Let's face it: Your audience is bombarded with stimuli and efforts to gain their attention throughout the day--from the traditional phone call to instant gratification tools like chat services and social media. Email, while easily the most pervasive method, must cut through the clutter to reach its target. With so many channels competing for your audience's precious time, you need to find ways to maximize your email marketing campaign efforts and deliver results.

One clear method for generating attention is leveraging design capabilities. When time is in short supply, an eye-catching, strategic design can draw in your audience and elicit a response.

Email Design Tips

How can you compel readers to give your email those extra seconds of attention? Consider the following 5 tips:

  • Assume Short Attention Spans - Your target audience's email box may be flooded with hundreds of emails a day. After they open an email, you need to hit them hard and fast with your message. Design your email so that it's concise and the key messages are front and center. Remember, you want impact. If you have several messages, break them up into a multiple email campaign.
  • Avoid Clutter - White space is a good friend. An email with too many design elements can seem overwhelming, confusing the reader and causing the message to get lost. Though you want to get your ideas across, you need to space out the content. Gap does a nice job applying this principle. People tend to scan email before a focused read. Bulleted or numbered lists and section headers can help to highlight the key points. Spacing them out encourages readability.
  • Call-to-Action Strategy - Your main goal with email is to generate a response. A call-to-action (CTA) is the primary result you want to achieve with your email. It may be clicking a button to enroll readers in a newsletter or to taking them to the company website. Whatever you choose as your CTA, you want to present it to readers multiple times throughout the email, as AT&T does in their email marketing campaigns. Make sure you design your email with the CTA displayed at various points.
  • Remember the F-Pattern - Eye tracking studies have long confirmed that people read from left to right in an F pattern. As much as you may want to exercise your design chops, keep in mind the habits of your audience. If there are key takeaway points you want to deliver in your email, it is wise to consider the value of placing them on the left side of the screen. Want proof? Check out this example from Room & Board - the images are literally positioned in the shape of an F.
  • Design for Audience Preference - Where is your audience reading their email? Data indicates that a growing number of people are opting for their phones and tablets rather than a PC. If that's true for your audience, you need to ensure your designs are optimized for those smaller screens. No one wants to scroll or resize images on an email.

A carefully designed and well thought-out email is one of the most successful methods of reaching your audience. Employing the email design tips described above will enable you to increase your chances of success.

Want More Email Tactics for Engagement?

Check out 4 Email Practices of Marketing Masters for more insights into how to drive engagement with email.