In today’s world of permission-based marketing, lead nurturing through email marketing is an important component of your in-bound marketing efforts.


Email has been identified as the best converting on-line communication medium, better than search engines and social media.

Here are 7 email design tips to improve your email open rates and click-throughs:

1. Use graphics selectively.

There are email clients that block images by default. Unless the user selects to show images in incoming emails, they’ll see empty spaces where your images should be.

While you don’t need to eliminate graphics, it’s a good idea to review your email in both blocked and unblocked versions prior to hitting “Send”.

2. Leverage ALT tags.

An ALT tag is an HTML tag that provides alternative text when graphics cannot be displayed. You can use this feature to your advantage if graphics are blocked.

Effective ways include describing the blocked image, promoting the email content, or having a CTA (Call to Action) that encourages the user to download the images (“See what you’re missing by right-clicking here!”)

3. Avoid “Call to Actions” in graphics.

Don’t embed telephone numbers or CTAs (Call to Actions) in your graphics. If the graphics are blocked, your readers miss the opportunity to take action with your email, resulting in a reduced response rate.

4. Leverage the email client’s reading pane.

Given the volume of email we receive, we usually scan our inbox and delete emails that don’t capture our interest. Use all four elements – the subject line, sender name, the related “From” address and email snippet – to best advantage.

There are two goals we want to achieve when your email is displayed in the user’s email reader:

  • Promote the brand of our company,
  • Increase open rate of your email

From the branding perspective, the sender name should include the name of your company. Email clients may display the “From” address instead of the sender name, so use an email address that reflects the true sender – for example,

The subject line provides a third branding opportunity, while motivating the reader to open the email. A good subject line is 50 characters or less.

If you have given your newsletter a name, keep it short and start the subject line with the name so that readers scanning left to right gain familiarity with that brand combination over time.

5. Use the full line of your email entry

Use your subject line to best advantage per above, then leverage the following for more space to induce a click through.

Most email apps show the email subject line and then a snippet of text from the email. Take advantage of this by putting a short piece of text ahead of your company logo.

If it’s your newsletter, make that text snippet include a headline or a “In this issue, read about” teaser. Promotional emails can use this space to highlight a value proposition and/or a CTA.

Her are some examples from my in-box:


6. Minimize coding to maximize readability across different devices.

Avoid cluttering up your email with navigation bars and links. Mobile device email readers may transform your design into plain text, and can turn your “Buy Now” button or links to your site into full-blown multi-character URL links that fill up the small screen.

Also, keep text and size formatting within the HTML of the email itself – don’t have references to external style sheets (CSS).

As well, some email readers may not recognize paragraph breaks <p>. Consider using line breaks </br> to create spacing between blocks of text.

7. And finally, Test

When publishing emails and newsletters, you’ll want to do everything possible to increase your open rate. This means taking your email and trying out a second version with an alternate subject line, or maybe a different CTA within the email body.

Take 10% of your email list and split it into two. Send one half version A of your email and the other half version B. After two or three days, see which email scored the highest open rate. Use the higher performing email to broadcast to the other 90% of your list.

For an overview of B2B web marketing strategies, read 10 Essential Steps for On-line B2B Lead Generation