Providing your users and customers with beautiful and functional emails is a challenge. Emails need to be “frictionless,” meaning that your subscribers shouldn’t have to go to a lot of effort to do what you want them to do in response to the email. But actually removing all those barriers is easier said than done.

Worse still, achieving the goal of better emails is complicated by the fact that new apps come out all the time and that there are constant updates to CSS and HTML support. These, in turn, can affect your design campaign, and not always in a positive way.

Here is the lowdown on building beautiful, helpful emails.

Optimize Your Settings For Image Blocking

AOL’s Alto Mail app, as well as the more ubiquitous Outlook 2016, both, use image blocking technology, partly to reduce the amount of bandwidth consumed by email, and partly to provide extra security. As a result, designers need to think carefully about their emails before sending them out. Emails that aren’t optimized for image blocking will look unformatted and messy – not something subscribers or customers like.

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As a result, marketers need to adopt a bunch of defensive strategies. These include doing things like bulletproof buttons and ALT text, as well as getting the balance of images and HTML text right to fight against image blocking.

Always Be Accurate With Typefaces

Not all of your users or marketing material will use standard characters. Some will use modified letters and numbers, depending on their language and culture. You may also need to use special characters to interact with the computer’s typefaces when sending emails.

Find a list of characters in alphabetical order containing all possible permutations of letters that you might use. Then deploy special characters where needed, especially when it comes to people’s names.

Use Mobile-Friendly Elements

The latest data suggests that around 55 percent of all emails are opened using mobile devices. This means that it’s now more important than ever for emails to be optimized for mobile users.

It’s a good idea, therefore to use large, touch-friendly buttons, as well as larger text and a single-column format for when people are using their phones in portrait mode.

Find Out Where Your Audience Is Opening Their Emails

It’s a good idea to research industry-wide open email trends. They’re a great indicator of the type of devices your customers are likely using, and how you should tailor your emails. Between 2014 and 2015, for instance, there was a 22 percent increase in the number of people opening emails on their iPhones. Now iPhone email opens comprise more than 33 percent of the total.

The good news is that the iPhone has great CSS and HTML support, meaning that you can safely use the latest HTML5 techniques on mobile. For instance, you could include a background video in your email that will help boost its marketing appeal.

Data analytics like these can be found on sites like the one run by Litmus Software, although you’ll have to pay for the privilege.

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