Designing triggered email templates presents a number of challenges to account for. Dynamic content, changing product recommendations and responsive design are just some of the hurdles eCommerce email marketers deal with every day. Lucky for you, we’ve outlined our top best practice do’s and don’ts so you can be sure to design triggered email templates that are both beautiful and effective.
1. DO think of your template with varying numbers of products
eCommerce emails can and should always vary in the number of products that are displayed, based on the type of email that is being sent or the type of products being recommended. Because of this, product grids are specifically built to allow for varying numbers of products. This allows for marketers to maintain a sufficient email volume by sending promotions to customers that viewed either one product or six. All of our layouts center when there are less than the desired number in a given row.
2. DON’T overlay links or dynamic text on images
Although text overlays look great in some emails, it usually isn’t worth the headache it causes. Since background images and positioning properties are not available in most email clients, elements like this require complex slicing, dicing and fancy code work in tables that fall apart in mobile environments and create the dreaded QA nightmare. The only other option is to go outside of your email creation flow, use a tool like Photoshop or some other software to add text on top of your image, and reload it back into the email building tool. This process, however, is cumbersome, especially since you can’t make any changes or updates. It’s best to put function ahead of form here and avoid this practice.
3. DO keep personalized content above the fold
Bluecore emails have higher success rates in clickthrough and conversion for a good reason. They are personalized to the customer. If a customer opens an email and just sees a giant banner like any other newsletter, performance will suffer. Don’t do yourself a disservice by hiding the personalized recommendations further down in the email. Put your best foot forward and display them at the top to grab the customer’s attention.
4. DON’T hide desktop content on mobile
Sometimes templates can create very different mobile and desktop experiences by hiding desktop content on mobile and hiding mobile content on desktop. There are a few reasons this is a bad practice. One is that many email clients, Gmail being the number one offender, clip an email that becomes to large. When there is a lot of hidden content in a template, hitting this limit becomes common and causes footer elements, such as unsubscribe links, to be clipped off taking away CAN-SPAM compliance.
The other reason for this is email forwarding. If a user forwards an email with hidden content, that content will no longer be hidden from the recipient, causing the email to appear broken to them. While we can never guarantee the fidelity of a forwarded email, we can be assured hidden content will break this functionality without question.
In the end, the only element we recommend hiding in mobile is the desktop navigation at the top of the template and moving this to a list format at the bottom of the template for mobile. This is standard practice and the only real necessity in terms of cross-device support.
5. DO always include related products
Related products are secondary products that are related in some way to the primary input products. These commonly appear as something like “You May Also Like” or “Our Best Sellers.” These are best placed in a second section below the primary input products as they have slightly less relevance to the customer, but could be of interest to them based upon the products interacted with above.
6. DON’T use custom fonts stacks
There are many special considerations when it comes to typography in emails. Although it may be tempting, marketers should avoid using custom fonts. Custom font stacks are not currently supported by the most popular email clients, so it is important to design all dynamic text content using web-safe fonts. If marketers do try using a non web-safe font, it simply won’t show up correctly on most computers or browsers. It’s just like downloading a PowerPoint that uses a font your computer doesn’t have installed – it changes the font to something else outside of your control, and generally looks pretty bad. Web-safe fonts marketers should use include Arial Black, Lucinda Grande, Tahoma, Trebuchet, Verdana, Georgia, Palatino, Times New Roman, Courier New, Courier and Impact.
7. DO design to support retina displays
With the rise of retina displays in the most popular devices, it is recommended that marketers design in such a way as to support this without imagery becoming fuzzy. The best way to do this is to double the size of all design assets and allow for resizing these to fit the 600px maximum. So a template intended to be 600px wide should be designed at 1200 px and a mobile template intended to be 320px should be designed at 640px. This will allow you to build templates that maintain a high quality output in screens with high pixel density.
For more best practices and email design inspiration, download our new Triggered Email Template Design Lookbook