When it comes to getting in touch with your audience, building a customer relationship, and driving sales, there’s one weapon in your arsenal that’s more powerful than the Death Star, the Elder Wand and Oathkeeper combined (I mean, can you even get more powerful than that?): email marketing. We’ve got the four top email design tips you need to know to make the most (and get the most) out of your marketing emails.

Remember: email marketing is a prime opportunity to sell your products or services and get tight with your audience. But if your emails aren’t awesomely designed, it’s a prime opportunity to completely miss the mark.

1. Make the most out of your email content

Obviously, you know it’s important to send killer content in your marketing emails. But what you might not know is that how you design your content might even be more important than the content itself. The most successful email content is designed in a way that encourages engagement with your reader.

Start with the important stuff

Getting people to open your email is hard enough, but if they have to scroll for miles for you to get to the point? Forget about it.

by MailDesigner

People will judge your email based on the first thing they see or read. That’s what helps them decide whether they want to keep going. Start your email design with the important stuff, whether it’s a special offer or details about an upcoming event. That way, you get your important messaging across, even if your audience only reads the first sentence.

Have a singular focus

Choose one area and make it the focal point of your email by visual hierarchy to call attention to it. If you have too many conflicting messages or areas of focus, your reader is going to get confused about what your email is all about.

Keep it short and simple

The saying “the longer the better” just doesn’t apply to email design. If someone looks at your email and sees that it stretches on for days, they’re not going to read it.

Get to your point, and get to it quickly. Lead with the important stuff. Since you have no idea how long people will read your email, kick things off with your most important messaging. You’ll grab their attention, and your message won’t get lost in the too-long-email shuffle.

by stefanficu

Make it scannable

So, true story: people don’t actually read your emails. They quickly scan them to see if there’s any useful tidbits of information, and then they go along their merry way.

Don’t be offended! It’s not you. It’s just the way people digest information these days (thanks internet!). If you want your emails to deliver the kind of results you’re looking for, you need to make them scannable.

Use headers and bullet points in your email design to emphasize your content. Use short paragraphs and avoid large blocks of text.

Link all the things

The first rule about email marketing: you don’t talk about email marketing. And the second rule or email marketing…? But seriously, a cardinal rule for email design is that everything in your email—from your images to your header to your text—should be linked.

If the only link in your email is the word “here” hidden somewhere in paragraph three, your email-driven traffic is going to hover somewhere around the zero mark. Wherever people click on your email, it should take them somewhere you want them to go—like a landing page, product page or special offer.

Bottom line: link all the things and make everything clickable.

Drive results with your CTA

In the end, email marketing is all about results. And how do you get results? You ask for them.

by charlim888

Make sure your call to action (CTA) is crystal clear so your readers know exactly what you want them to do. Use design elements, like arrows or boxes, to draw the eye right to the CTA. Make sure that your readers hear you loud and clear, then watch your conversions shoot through the roof.

2. Leverage your design’s layout

If content is king, then consider layout the queen. How you organize and layout your email design is just as important as what’s actually in it.

Wise up on width

When it comes to creating good-looking emails, layout is key. Don’t stretch it out! An email that’s too wide just doesn’t work. If your readers have to scroll from side to side on their device to read the content of your email, they’ll click unsubscribe so fast it’ll make your head spin.

by Grigoris G

Keep your width to 600 pixels to make sure all of your content appears on the screen—no scrolling required.

Cultivate the right columns

If you’re sending more of a newsletter format or have multiple content pieces you want to highlight, you might be tempted to section your content out into a million columns, but don’t.

With the 600px width limit, more than two or three columns feels way to crowded.

Build a hierarchy

No one likes to stare at big blocks of text. It’s visually overwhelming and will remind people of a textbook (and the last thing you want your audience thinking about when they read your email is homework).

Use text hierarchy, like sub-headers, quotes and font formatting like bold & italics to organize your copy and visually illustrate important points.

Don’t forget about mobile

If your email only works on a desktop, you’re missing out on a ton of opportunity. So many people read their emails on their phones, and if your email isn’t optimized for mobile, all they’re going to see is a hot, jumbled mess.

by mecolvin

Make your email design is fully responsive. Your readers should have a positive, well-designed email experience on whatever device they’re using. Check your email on every application and device to get a sense of user experience across the board.

And just to cover your bases, add a “view in browser” link. That way, if all else fails and your email still looks wonky on their device or email client, they can still access your content.

3. Flirt with fonts

Just as important as what you write in your email is how your words appear. That’s right, I’m talking about fonts.

by stefanficu

Use the right sizes

Even if your email content is Pulitzer-worthy, it doesn’t matter if no one can actually read it. Make sure your body copy font is readable! Size 14 to 16 point is a good rule of thumb.

Use the right fonts

One font: good. Two fonts: fine. More than two fonts? Visual overload. Choose one font for your headlines and another for your body copy.

And as much as you might be dying to write the body of your email in some crazy font, restrain yourself. Web-embedded fonts won’t show up on your marketing emails, which means your content won’t look exactly how you want it to. For body copy, stick to the basics like Arial, Times New Roman, Tahoma, Verdana, Courier and Georgia.

4. Prettify your email design

Even if your content is amazing, if your email looks like an artistically-challenged grade-schooler scribbled all over the screen, people won’t read it. If you want to see results, you’ve got to prettify your email.

Play with color psychology

The colors you use are more than just pretty. They can be powerful, too. Make strategic use of the rainbow and leverage color psychology.

This is especially important with your call to action. Use action-oriented colors like red or orange to drive conversions.

Use images wisely

Images can definitely add to an email, but there’s something to be said about too much of a good thing.

Don’t use too many images or your content might get lost. Never lead with an image unless it’s your logo. Make sure you include some content first so your readers know who you are and what your email is about. If you’re using a lot of images or photos, keep the rest of your design simple and allow them to take center stage.

by thecreatv

Find a palette

Color is one of the first things people will notice when they look at your email, so you want to use it well. Use complementary colors and keep your palette to two or three colors to avoid visual headaches.

You can also use color to section out your email. Use different colors to separate the header and footer of the email.

Don’t forget about white space

Color is important. But so is a lack of color.

White space helps to visually break up your content in a more digestible way. It can also help you bring emphasis to key points and section out different areas of your email.

by mary_25

Use white space to make your email feel more spacious, bring attention to important messaging, make your text and visuals pop, and really just make the whole thing easier on the eyes for your audience.

Format your images

No matter how many images you use, make sure you size them correctly for your email template! No one wants to see a distorted or out of shape graphic taking up space in their inbox. You can also add CSS styles to images to make sure they display correctly in clients that support alt tags.

These email design tips deliver

Get ready, marketing ninja! With these email design tips, you’ll have all the weapons you need to storm the email world like the marketing master you are. Happy designing!

Got a handle on how your email should look? Launch a contest to get your own custom email design.