Propagating the Perfect Email Template

June 30, 2010

If we had more room in our header areas, I'd tack "for you" onto the end—that's one of the crucial points of this post, after all. In the course of doing what I do, I come across all kinds of email templates, and one truth emerges: the perfect email template is what works best for your organization and your readers. There's no one-size-fits-all solution.

Finding your own sweet spot, however, can be challenging. And while I was fully prepared to dive into the research and present some high-falutin' scientific evidence for your edification, I figured show-and-tell might be more meaningful. Let's take a look at some examples—two created by Digett, one not—that work.

Rancho Cortez

This design represented a couple of challenges, as Rancho Cortez could effectively bill itself as two businesses. On the one hand, you have a good, old-fashioned Texas dude ranch staffed by true cowpokes; on the other hand, you have a world-class fitness program run by a Cooper Institute-certified trainer. Moreover, because of their dual roles—plus the natural beauty of their Bandera surroundings—they needed a template that balanced imagery with copy, which is an ongoing discussion in any design shop.

The final design hits the right style notes (it's a dude ranch, not "Hee Haw") while remaining versatile enough for both aspects of the business. At the same time, Andrew provided ample space for artwork without crowding out the copy. Indeed, he did such a good job, it got a mention on Campaign Monitor's design gallery.

 

Digett

It's perfectly kosher for us to hold out our own template as an example of one that works, as we'd know. Granted, it's not untouchable; we've poked and prodded this thing since it went into rotation, but that's just a reflection of our neverending pursuit of perfection and Mark's ill-fated quest to end our midday nap time. In fact, we're working on a refresher as I write this.

Still, we've been using this template for a while, and it's proven to be a winner. Our greatest need was for one that could successfully and tastefully present the wide range of topics we tend to talk about on our blog. In addition, it needed to complement the clean lines and simple colors seen on our current website.

 

Help a Reporter Out (HARO)

I've been a recipient of HARO emails for some time; this service, established by entrepreneur and web celebrity Peter Shankman, connects journalists with sources in a pinch through thrice-daily emails. I'm not including a screenshot, however, because these emails are created in plain, boring text.

They really have to be, given the sheer volume of reporter requests listed in each email—one recent edition had 50, in relative detail. That makes an HTML template somewhat superfluous, not to mention unnecessary; in less than three years, HARO has grown from a small Facebook group to a list with more than 100K subscribers. I'd say text has worked well for them.

Working well, ultimately, is what it's all about. Whether your emails are created using sophisticated imagery and copy placement or with raw text, they need to serve your goals.