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Most people will tell you that they are more inclined to read an email that is visually appealing, and there are several reasons for that. The primary reason is that designed emails are easier to navigate. How many times have you deleted an email simply because it looked like it would be too much work to get through it? You’re not alone.

Visually appealing emails get more clicks and that can mean better results for your marketing campaign objectives. So before you launch your next email campaign, take the following visual design practices into account for a healthier result:

1. The meat goes above the fold

Quite simply, there is no reliable screen size anymore. While analytics can tell you which browser sizes users are viewing, there is usually a great variety. The good news is that recipients will scroll if the subject and headline are compelling and relevant. But in general with desktop layouts, it’s important to include the vital information and at least one call to action above the fold, meaning within view upon opening the page, without scrolling.

2. White space is a very good thing

Many marketers make the mistake of cramming too much content into their emails. Make use of ample white space to make the desired path stand out. By not crowding buttons or copy, users are more likely to see and interact with them. Putting space around important elements of the layout makes them stand out. There is the understandable temptation to fill the page to maximize the communication opportunity, but it will kill campaign performance.

3. Images should support, not detract

Always assume that recipients will NOT see your images. No critical information should ever be presented as an image. Many (if not most) B2B email recipients have images set to “off” by default for security reasons. Here are a few tips on using images effectively in marketing emails:

  • Include ALT text for every image. Make it descriptive and related to the content of the email.
  • Keep images to a minimum. Never use more than 5 images.
  • Lean toward simple compositions with good contrast and detail when selecting imagery. Simple visuals will help communicate the concept quickly and also work well on smaller displays.
  • Expect high-resolution mobile displays. While mobile devices have smaller screens, their resolution is generally much higher than desktop machines.
  • Test your image-to-text ratio before sending emails. Too many images compared to text in an email can trigger spam filters.
  • Since 53% of emails are opened on a mobile device, having images – and emails – that are responsive to screen size, is vital.

All in all, there are many ways to style your emails to encourage more reads within your audience. Aside from design practices, there are, of course, many other rules of thumb for marketers to follow, like an enticing subject line, A/B testing, and consistently sending useful content to well-targeted lists.

For more tips on composing a marketing email that gets reads, see our infographic on The Anatomy of a Killer Marketing Email.