These Apps Solve All of Your Ugly Email Problems
August 22, 2016
The average email user sends and receives around 105 emails per day.
Out of those emails, surprisingly only 19% of those emails are spam, which means that each legitimate email message wanting to be opened and read, has a lot of competition.
Whether you’re sending email newsletters or simple notifications, you want your email to stand out. Design is a big factor in whether or not someone reads your email and decides not to keep it (or whether they decide to completely unsubscribe).
Your email designs are also important as a part of your overall brand recognition. The more memorable your designs are, the more likely your users will open them. Industry stats show us that not every subscriber scrolls down past the header. In fact, 51% of them will delete the message within two seconds of opening it.
When it comes to creating and sending those emails, however, there are really only a couple ways to go about it. You can manually customize or design them directly from WordPress, or you can use a third-party email marketing app to manage your email designs on your behalf.
Better Emails in WordPress
Okay, so technically speaking WordPress doesn’t actually send out robust HTML emails like newsletters automatically, which is a bummer for many users who want to keep their forms, databases and emails all in one central location. But WordPress does have notification emails, and the good news is that there are plugins that allow you to fully optimize those emails without having to use a third-party app.
MailPoet allows you to create newsletters, automated emails, post notifications and more directly from WordPress. It comes with a few templates, and there are some basic customization features and branding options that let you personalize the emails as well.
Newsletter adds a real newsletter system to your blog and comes with a drag and drop editor to help build beautiful emails with both HTML and text versions.
WP Better Emails lets you make the default email notifications “prettier” for better readability in different email clients like Gmail, Yahoo Mail and more. While not as robust as some other plugins, it’s handy for quickly cleaning up notifications without a lot of effort.
Coding HTML Emails
A typical single-column HTML email layout consists of a header containing your logo and navigation, some stories or images with news or product features, and a footer with navigational links and unsubscribe instructions. In all honesty, you probably don’t need much more than that.
You can also include a two-column layout (or variations of two-column and single-column) with some additional navigation and links at one side, which works well for email newsletters or for certain types of visual content.
There are also a few things to keep in mind, like being sure to use HTML-friendly text and fonts, limiting your width to 600px, and having a backup for no images just in case. Digital Telepathy has some tips for designing effective emails here.
Groupmail also has some advice for formatting your HTML emails for better readability in any and all email clients.
Better Emails with Apps
Of course, if you’re not into coding and designing each individual email in WordPress, you always have the option of integrating with a third-party app.
One of the benefits of using a third-party email marketing app is that they often come with pre-made templates in addition to features like list management and segmentation. Having pre-made templates can come in handy when you want beautiful emails but can’t spend the time designing them from scratch.
Just because you have templates ready-made doesn’t mean they will automatically be eye-catching. Here are a few ways that some of our recommended email marketing apps maximize your email’s design potential.
MailChimp’s drag and drop editor is a great tool for designing clean HTML emails without needing to know a lot about coding. This is helpful if you’re running email campaigns but either don’t have a designer on hand or have one that’s too busy to create each individual email.
You can either choose a basic template and then customize it in the drag and drop editor, or you can select from a handful of pre-made templates and customize only what you need.
They also have an email design guide on how to use images, fonts and CTAs to improve your emails.
GetResponse also features a drag and drop editor for emails and allows you to create your own templates for future use. While you can choose from a variety of templates, GetResponse also allow you to code from scratch and save for later, or import an existing template.
It also allows you to build landing pages for your emails to capture leads and provide more information on your product or services, which can be helpful for those looking to capture leads and increase click-through rates.
Another drag and drop design aficionado, AWeber comes with pre-made HTML templates that are mobile responsive, so the work on your end is minimal.
One of its biggest pieces of advice when it comes to designing great emails is to “code like it’s 1999” – meaning that simplicity is key. Even if your design is image-heavy, you should plan for image blocking by including text in your image descriptions so people still understand what they’re looking at it should an image load incorrectly.
iContact also uses a mix of templates and HTML, but one thing that sets iContact apart is that it works with you to create the templates, so you really don’t have to mess with anything unless you want to.
It has a dedicated Design Services team that helps build your branding into pre-made templates (or the team can help you make a template from scratch) so that your emails don’t suffer from any accidental unprofessionalism.
Which App Is Right for You?
Whether you choose to use pre-made templates to simplify the process or code beautiful emails from scratch, the keys to a successful email are all about creating something beautiful and functional.
When choosing an app that will help you do both of these things, you should look at a few things:
- Do you want to use a third-party email marketing app or send directly from WordPress? Then a plugin like MailPoet might be best.
- Do you (or your designers) want to use a basic template and customize as needed? Or do you want to create something from scratch? An app like GetResponse will help you do that.
- On that same line of thought, do you want to have someone else take care of your designs for you, so you can sit back and relax? iContact is a good choice for those who don’t want a DIY approach.
There’s really no wrong answer, but your priorities will determine which method is best for you. Just know that you definitely have options, whichever way you choose.