Designing for users who scan rather than read is essential for email marketing's survival. Scannability is important for websites as well, but it’s about 50% more important for email marketing. This implies the need for layouts that let users quickly grasp each issue’s content and zero in on specifics. Content and writing styles must support users who read only part of the material.
Email marketing must be current and timely. This is backed up by a report by the Nielsen Norman Group shows that this accounts for three of the four main reasons that users listed for why a certain newsletter was the most valuable they received. All of the following four reasons were given by more than 40% of users:
Informs of work-related news or company actions (mentioned by two-thirds of users)
Informs about personal interests/hobbies
Informs about events/deadlines/important dates
There is pretty much a “what have you done for me lately” phenomenon at play, where email marketing has to justify its space in the inbox on a daily basis. Having been relevant in the past is not enough. Because of the immediacy of the medium, email marketing must be relevant today and address users’ specific needs in the moment.
Because email marketing build relationships with readers and because it’s so easy to ignore individual issues, email marketing does get some leeway if it is predictably relevant at certain times. During those periods when email marketing isn’t relevant to the user’s immediate needs, the user might simply ignore it rather than unsubscribe. This is important to understand as this example shows:
A speech pathologist at an elementary school said that she could only purchase new products at the end of the school year, and so ignored product-related newsletters most of the year. Still, she didn’t unsubscribe, and simply receiving the sales newsletters reminded her of the brand when she received her budget - at the end of every year, she became a valuable customer once again.
Users will often avoid signing up for email marketing because they feel crushed by information overload. It is the job of the email marketing publisher to convince users that the email marketing will be simple, useful, and easy to deal with.
A predictable publication frequency that is not too aggressive is usually best. We suggest a minimum of once a month. A regular publication schedule lets users know when to look for the email marketing and reduces the probability that they’ll confuse it with spam and delete it.
Also, writing good subject lines is crucial, both in encouraging users to open the newsletter and helping them distinguish the newsletter from spam. We recommend including content from the issue in each subject line, even though it's a difficult job to write good microcontent within the fifty- to sixty-character limit that many email services impose.
These examples are custom designed HTML using method #1