Email Template Best Practices


Email templates are critical for guiding a subscriber from open to conversion.

Yes, graphics are important for grabbing visual attention.


Yes, copy needs to connect on a relational and sales-driven level. (After all, your subscribers need to know WHY they should care). 

Packaging all of that up into a neat template has to be unique to the email experience. If they can see or read the content, then it’s just wasted effort.

There are five areas to think of when considering designing a conversion-driven email template:

  1. Above The Scroll
  2. Using Images in an Email Template
  3. Skimmable Content
  4. Clear Call To Action

    1. Above The Scroll

    Formerly known as “above the fold” in the days of paper-driven marketing, we now default to expecting users to scroll through all digital content.

    “Above the scroll” is the header of the email that subscribers will see immediately after they open the email.

    The content after a user’s screen size cuts it off is invisible to them at open. In order to view it, they need to scroll with their mouse or thumb.

    This area usually consists of two things:

    1. Your logo
    2. A captivating headline/image.

    There are two tricky parts to keep in mind when thinking about image sizes and headlines.

    Screen sizes vary widely.

    If most of your subscribers are generally desktop users, “Above The Scroll” is a much bigger space to play in.

    Your mobile users will have a much smaller window to grab their attention.

    Nailing down the exact area where “Above The Scroll” is is almost impossible for that very reason.

    Plus, people are accustomed to scrolling. It isn’t as big of a friction point for user experience as it once was as we all become fluent in using digital content.

    Email Client Information Takes Up Vertical Space

    As you know, your email doesn’t show up in an inbox exactly as you send it.

    When people open your email campaign, there’s usually the sender information and header combo from the email client (i.e. gmail, Outlook, Apple Mail, etc.) that can take up a large portion of the screen.

    This is especially true for mobile users.

    What that means for your template: make sure your logo isn’t taking up too much vertical space at the top.

    That’s precious real estate that could be devoted to a captivating headline that draws your subscribers’ attention further into the email content.

      2. Using Images in an Email Template

      Email marketing production gets complicated quickly, and you want to make sure your emails are not only eye-catching but readable.

      Testing of images in email varies widely. I’ve tested the exact same email content as text-only versus heavily image-based and the impact is only significant on specific types of campaigns.

      The main thing to think about is whether or not you have the internal resources to justify the extra work.

      Regardless, here’s what you need to know about using images with text on them in your email template.


      When you’re thinking about putting text on images, you can’t forget about how to keep your overall digital marketing strategy accessible.

      People who rely on text-to-speech readers on their computers and mobile devices rely on there actually being text that their technology can read to them.

      They can’t read the text that is embedded in your image.

      That’s why it’s imperative to include “alt-text” on each image. This option is available in every Email Service Provider.

      There will be a box in your image settings that is called “alt text” that lets you type out the text on the image.

      Mobile Responsive

      If you put tiny text in an image that is designed for desktop and shrink it down to mobile, you’ll want to check out how it reads on mobile.

      I see this all too often. Text placed on an image that looks okay on desktop, but is barely legible on mobile.

      Make sure your font sizes are at least 28px if you plan on doing this.

      Disabled Images

      Some email clients like Outlook and Gmail will auto-disable images from unknown senders.

      That means if ALL of your content is in images, these subscribers will have to go the extra step of enabling images in order to see your content.

      We know as marketers, that every additional step we ask a user to take, is a place we could potentially lose them.

      Having alt-text will help this OR limiting your use of images with text placed on them.

      Here’s what an email looks like if it’s all image with text on it and it has not been optimized for mobile or alt-text.

      Click the image to see a gif of what I mean.

      3. Skimmable Content

      The average session time on a website is about one minute. We can expect less than that from other forms of digital content.

      What that means for email: make your content skimmable.

      How do you make your email campaign content skimmable? Here are three things to know:

      Avoid big blocks of text.

      A run-on paragraph can look visually overwhelming. If it looks like a lot of text to read, people won’t engage.

      Shorten your paragraphs to one or two lines at the most. Again, people are used to scrolling. If your copy is engaging, they’ll keep scrolling.

      Add visual variation to your text.

      Again, a monotonous block of text is easy to skim over. That means you need to visually draw attention to the most critical parts.

      Usually, that’s the major benefits of your offer, key points your subscribers need to know, deadlines, or special offers.

      You can add visual elements to text in a few ways:


      1. Bulleted/numbered lists. If you are highlighting the benefits or features of your content, product, or service, break it out into a list.
      2. Text Decoration. That can look like font styles such as bolding, italicizing, or changing the color of specific sections of text.
      3. Font Size. Make sure to break up sections of your email with headers that can be a simple bump up of the font size.

      4. Clear Call To Action

      Your call to action not only has to be clear in terms of the copy but also the visual design.

      A clear call to action should be simple and short. It should tell your subscribers the next steps they need to take in order to take advantage of your offer or content.

      Visually, it can big, bold, hyperlinked text like this:

      Even better, a button with a contrasting color like this:

      You want your subscribers to STOP when they see it, so they know that there is more for them outside of the email.

      It’s the signpost in your email that tells them which direction to head in to guide them further down your funnel.


      There are four areas to think of when considering designing a conversion-driven email template:

      1. Above The Scroll. This is precious real estate. Use it wisely.
      2. Using Images in an Email Template. If you have the resources for developing them, make sure they’re accessible and readable on mobile.
      3. Skimmable Content. You have less than a minute for your subscriber to read the content. Avoid big blocks of content and add text decoration.
      4. Clear Call To Action. Make sure you have a clear signpost in your email that directs your subscriber to take action.

      The Correction Email: How to Turn Around an Email Marketing Mistake

      How to Turn Around an Email Marketing Mistake


      Seriously. We’ve all been there. 

      In my case, it’s hitting send on an email, and realized I sent it to the wrong list. 

      It’s seeing the final email launch after four people reviewed it, and there’s a typo in the subject line.

      It’s checking the date of an event five times, and you saved and sent the wrong version.

      And then begins the endless cycle of beating yourself up. Running through every possible worst-case scenario in your head.

      No one is ever going to think I can do anything ever again. 

      I’m going to get fired.

      I just lost a ton of money. 

      My customers are going to hate my brand and complain about me on social media.

      I’m here to tell you, it is going to be okay.

      Seriously. It is going to be okay.

      Everyone makes mistakes. E-v-e-r-y-o-n-e.

      Anyone who tries to tell you there isn’t room for mistakes is seriously delusional (or a robot). 

      We are all human. And messing up is inevitable.

      The best part about messing up?

      You learn from it!

      Some of the best lessons I’ve learned are from falling flat on my face. Take your mistake, learn what you did wrong, and find a way to correct it in the future.

      Most of the time, when I make a mistake, it’s because I need to do one of two things: 

      1. SLOW. DOWN.  You’re doing too many things at once, trying to get through them all.  Take a breath, and give yourself some time and space to focus on one thing at a time.
      1. Ask for help.  It’s okay to say you can’t do it all.  Because guess what?  You can’t.  Sorry to break it to you.  We all need help sometimes and guess what?  Most of your friends, family members, and colleagues are MORE THAN HAPPY to help you.  Because it’s the right thing to do and It just feels good.

      So how’s an email marketer supposed to turn what seems like an unforgettable error around??

      The question is – How to send an apology email for mistakes and typos?

      • Do you send a typo correction email?
      • Do you send a typo apology email?
      • Should you resend an email with a typo? (gasp!)

      Just call it for what it is – an Oops!

      Here are the three things to keep in mind when drafting a Correction Email (aka Oops Email) 
      1. Have Fun with Your Oops Email
      2. Own the Mistake in Your Email
      3. Correct the Mistake In Your Email

      Have Fun with Your Oops Email

      Yes, you’re mortified that you just made a mistake.

      Guess what? We all do it.

      Sorry to be the one to tell you that you’re not special in that regard.

      There’s nothing better than deflecting embarrassment with humor in a typo correction email or typo apology email.

      A weird coping mechanism? Maybe.

      It’s definitely not something I would do in an inappropriate situation.

      But it does put people at ease. They forget to be mad when they’re smiling. 

      Check out this apology email subject line and email from Fab.  I mean, what’s funnier than a cat on a laptop, making the same face you did when you realize your mistake??


      Own the Mistake in Your Email

      Pinpoint what happened. Name it. Say it out loud.

      Do what you have to do to identify the mistake in your typo correction email or typo apology email.

      What’s worse than making a mistake? Not admitting to it and naming it. 

      Eh, it wasn’t that big of a deal, you didn’t notice anyway.

      Because come on, you’re just insulting someone’s intelligence if you don’t think SOMEONE will notice you used ‘their’ instead of ‘they’re’

      People feel like they’re having something pulled on them because it lacks transparency.

      Name it so you can move on. 

      This typo correction email sample from Framebridge perfectly captures the ‘humble’ in their P.S. saying they know they made a mistake but they’re always looking to improve.  (Aren’t we all?)


      Correct the Mistake In Your Email

      In case this isn’t obvious, give them the correct info in the follow-up typo correction email.

      Give them the opportunity to take the action you wanted them to take.

      BONUS: Can you give an apology offer? Maybe a discount, a freebie, or a sweet pic of your baby niece (with mom’s permission of course)?

      People appreciate it when you go the extra mile any time during their customer journey. Don’t let this opportunity be any different.

      Check out this correction email from Gobe. They blamed their website (as they should) and offered a nice little discount code.  Short and sweet!


      People LOVE Oops Emails.

      Sending ‘sorry for the typo mistake’ emails tells them there is an actual human being on the other side of the campaign because SHOCKER it IS one human putting it together.

      It kind of explains why we’re all obsessed with reality TV, because it’s proof that regular people and famous people are all a mess just trying to get through life. 

      Even if five people review and approve your emails, mistakes still happen. 

      But when you own it?

      People appreciate it, they love it, and it builds… BRAND TRUST.

      So welcome! You’re officially an email marketer!

      Your mistake is not the first, and it certainly won’t be the last.

      Unless we finally do get taken over by robot-aliens, and then I suppose we have bigger things to worry about than typos.

      Come up for air when you’re ready and keep emailing!

       If You Need a Pep Talk The Next Time You Make A Mistake, I’m Here

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