Keep email newsletters simple

Lewis Wake
Tuesday 6 April 2021

Email newsletters overflow everyone’s inboxes. They are often very brand focused and their designs are intended to be flashy and eye catching as if someone handed you a leaflet on the street.

We all know how we feel about those…

What’s the point in fancy email newsletters?

What is the real benefit of attractive newsletters?

Do they even have to be that flashy?

Of course they do. It’s just marketting 101.

That’s fine when it’s a physical medium like a shop window or a leaflet, but email newsletters are a digital medium. There are technical requirements to consider.

Man holding phone with busy email newsletter
Where do you even begin interpretting this email newsletter?

Technical considerations

One huge disadvantage to over-dressed email newsletters is they are rarely designed and tested to fit all of the different types of inboxes they will land in.

Your email client application will likely differ from even those you’re closest with. Each client will interpret and render the email differently, from font, to grid layout. Don’t forget about dark mode too!

I won’t be able to read your fancy email newsletter with all of the pretty graphics on my smart watch…

This is a huge problem for companies who are looking to send out stylised newsletters to a huge number of customers. It’s often an after thought how the email will display on a variety of apps and devices.

This should be the first step, not the last.

How can you guarantee email compatibility?

So, how can you guarantee that your newsletter will render correctly on as many devices and email clients as possible?

Keep. It. Clean.

  • Use barebones HTML
  • Keep headings, texts, and links as simple as possible
  • Only use imagery when absolutely necessary

Keeping it simple and clean is a blessing for accessibility requirements as well.

It doesn’t have to be fancy and pretty to guarantee success. More often, it’s easier to guarantee success with a simple and well thought out message.

A clean email newsletter
Our own digital newsletter is an example of simplicity. Not to toot our own horn…

Can you still use email newsletter services?

You can still keep it simple with newletter campaign services. They provide great analytics and usage data. They also simplify the management of subscribers to your newsletter.

But, just because they provide flashy templates, doesn’t mean they all work in every scenario.

Still aim to keep it simple.

A quote from Steve Jobs:

Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.

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