All Posts By

Gabi McInnes

Mail Designer 365 1.4 Update Guide

By | Mail Designer 365 Blog
Hey designers! As you may have heard, macOS Mojave launched on Monday and to celebrate, we’ve got a brand new version of Mail Designer 365 for you which works perfectly on the new OS! Version 1.4 comes loaded with a huge new range of features including colorful image effects, brand new device previews, as well as a sleek new interface for Mojave’s long awaited dark mode.

Mail Designer 365 in Mojave Dark Mode

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How to Make Your Email Campaigns More Inclusive and Accessible

By | Newsletter Academy Mail Designer 365 EN

Our world is diverse and your customer base is too. With marketing becoming increasingly globalised, it’s important to ensure that your campaigns reflect and support the huge variety of customers your business has. Even small businesses cater to a large range of people differing in age, gender, race, religion, physical ability, etc. These are all qualities which make your customers unique and for this reason, it’s great for your business to celebrate and recognise them where you can. Here are some ways you can make your email campaigns more inclusive and accessible to your customers.

Get to know your target audience

The more you know about your customers, the more you can directly target your campaigns. For example, if you know the majority of your customers are from one country, you can make an effort to recognise national holidays which would be important to them and form a closer bond. You can use questionnaires, Twitter polls, and detailed sign up forms to try and find out more about the demographic of your customer base and adapt your marketing strategy accordingly.

This fun email design from Love Culture Clothing gives back to customers of Mexican origin with a 20% discount for their Cinco de Mayo celebrations.

Avoid generalisations or stereotypes

Because our world is so diverse, it is important to recognise that your customers are not a homogenous group – they each have different needs and different interests. In the past, businesses have experienced problems by trying to use stereotypes in their marketing campaigns. These types of generalisations may be funny to some, but will cause offence and upset to others. A prime example of stereotypes gone wrong is this very subjective idea of the “perfect body” from Victoria’s Secret. This marketing campaign received a barrage of complaints for featuring just one body type and failing to represent its hugely diverse global customer base.

This shortsighted Victoria’s Secret campaign rightfully sparked complaints from customers worldwide.

Think carefully about your images

Continuing from the previous point, it’s also important to show diversity in any images you’re using in your email designs. A picture is worth a thousand words, so it’s important to choose the right image for your campaign. If you can, try to choose a photo where you can see a range of different people doing different things. The more diverse the photos you include in your emails are, the more inclusive they become. Here are four great examples of brands who use diverse imagery to create inclusive marketing campaigns…

Nike’s Pro Hijab campaign

Dove’s Real Beauty campaign

Lloyd’s TSB 2012 Paralympics campaign

Tesco’s Food Love Stories campaign

Make your emails accessible

One way you can ensure your email designs are inclusive is by making them accessible to people of varying abilities. Here are three simple steps you can take to make your email design more accessible using Mail Designer 365:

Create a plain text version of your email design. Customers with visual impairments may use a special screen reading device to read your email message. These devices struggle with HTML emails, which is why it is good practice for you to always include a plain text version which summarises the contents of your email. This is easy to do in Mail Designer 365, simply switch to the plain text/Apple Watch view to create the non-HTML version.

Create a plain text version for visually impaired recipients using screen readers

Be careful with your colors  For readers with visual impairments such as color blindness, it can be difficult to decipher a HTML email design. Some popular color combinations which can be particularly confusing for users with color blindness include: green & blue, green & red, blue & grey, and blue & purple. Try and avoid these combinations where possible. Strongly contrasting combinations work well – use a light hue for the background and a darker, bolder hue for your text to make it more prominent.

Use a clear typeface There are also many steps you can take for recipients with reading difficulties such as Dyslexia or Alexia. Try and use a sans serif font where possible, as the individual characters are easy to identify. You should also try to avoid using italics or calligraphy style fonts, as these distort the words even more. Use a fairly large font size and avoid using justified text, as this is very difficult for the majority of dyslexics to read.

Mail Designer 365 has a range of text options to make your email easy to read

Celebrate everyone

We touched upon this earlier on, but it’s good to get involved in as many celebrations as you can. Celebrations and holidays such as Pride Month, Black History Month, International Women’s Day, etc, are all super positive ways of celebrating our diverse world and will make your email campaigns much more inclusive. This inspiring campaign from Everlane acknowledges Pride Month by celebrating humanity.

This email design from Everlane is super positive and inclusive

We hope we’ve managed to inspire you with these tips on how to make your marketing campaigns more inclusive and accessible for your diverse email audience. With just a few small changes, you can work wonders with an inclusive email marketing campaign. Try it out in Mail Designer 365!

Until next time!
Your Mail Designer 365 Team

Give Mail Designer 365 a try today for free…

Mail Designer 365 helps you create stylish, professional HTML emails on your Mac. Download for free to see what you can achieve.

 

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Epic Email Design Fails and How You Can Avoid Them…

By | Mail Designer 365 Blog

We don’t know about you, but when it comes to email fails, we’ve witnessed a lot go wrong over the years… We’ve seen everything from mobile design disasters, to missing call-to-actions, and list segmentation blunders that have left even big name brands feeling red faced!

As email geeks, we want to make it our mission to prevent these epic fails from occurring ever again! In our latest Newsletter Academy post, we’ve collected some of the most facepalm-worthy email design fails, along with tips on how you can avoid them with a little help from Mail Designer 365.

Head over to the Newsletter Academy for more!

Check Out these Epic Email Fails You Should Avoid at All Costs

By | Newsletter Academy Mail Designer 365 EN

To us email geeks, it seems like common knowledge that an all-image email is just not the way to go when it comes to email design best practice… So why is it that so many businesses (big and small alike) are still making this mistake as well as a variety of other “rookie” design errors? To find out how big the problem really is, we’ve scoured the web for some of the most *facepalm* worthy email design fails and what you can do to actively avoid them!

Mobile respon-what?

In this day and age you’d think it would be obvious that anything digital/HTML based (we’re talking websites, emails, etc.) should be optimized for viewing on smartphones. Mobile responsive design is massively important, as studies show that 75% of consumers check their emails most often on their smartphones. If this really is the case, why are businesses still forgetting to make their designs mobile-friendly? I hope you’ve got your magnifying glasses at the ready, because here are a few painful examples of brands who did not get the mobile memo…

If you’re wondering how to avoid this mishap without using any complex coding methods, Mail Designer 365 automatically creates a mobile optimized version of every email design. Switch to the mobile view and you can create content especially for people viewing your email on a smartphone. Clever right? Things like shorter text segments, single-column layouts, and mobile-friendly fonts are all great for your responsive design.

Mobile view preview

A picture DOES NOT speak one thousand words…

…If your customer’s email client doesn’t automatically display images! We know it’s tempting to create email designs that are all image based. They look cool and you can probably enjoy more design freedom, but it’s not good practice.  Here’s a few reasons why you should avoid image based emails where possible:

They’re way more likely to end up in the spam folder
Spam filters are getting stricter and most spam filters are programmed to watch out for all image emails; probably because it’s not good practice and not something to expect from a pro designer! Once your emails start landing in the spam folder, your deliverability rates are going to start going downhill, and the content you spent so long working on will be missed. Is it worth it? Definitely not! This email design from Mara Hoffman sure looks cool, but it would have been 10x more effective if it didn’t land in my spam folder.

They load much slower
It’s fairly clear that an image (especially a high resolution image) will load slower than text. This is why we always advise a healthy balance of both image and text in email newsletters. The images keep things interesting, whereas the text ensures readers still have some content to go on if the images take too long to load – especially important when using a slow public WiFi or a 3G connection. Obviously an all image email won’t provide this balance, and if it doesn’t load, you’re left with something like this…

…Not really a great selling point for your product.

If you want to create a similar effect to the previous design from Mara Hoffman, try using a photo background. This way you can still incorporate real text in your email, as well as creative, colorful design.

If you think this is bad, even big name brands are guilty of it too! Yes we’re looking at you Google.. This all-image email design is definitely not on point.

HTML horror stories

Many common email mistakes often arise from bad HTML or coding gone wrong. HTML can be tricky to work with. Even if you make one tiny mistake, it can have massive consequences on your email design. To save time and money, there are quite a few businesses who attempt to use DIY coding methods which don’t always go to plan. This paired with a lack of proper testing can lead to email blunders such as this one from West Elm… This is exactly why a WYSIWYG editor is always a good idea guys!

Segmentation Gone Wrong…

Segmentation can also be a huge problem when it comes to email marketing. Just one wrong click and your email could be sent to a completely different target group than what you expected. Take this example from PopSugar: “Win a trip for 2 to Sri Lanka” – sounds pretty exciting, right?! Too bad you can’t enter because of your location… Oops!

Another shudder-inducing example was the infamous baby registry email from Amazon a few years back. A harmless transactional-style email designed to inform parents-to-be of a new gift went terribly wrong and turned into a PR nightmare for the global brand. Instead of sending the email to expecting couples, it went to people not expecting a baby at all! Awkward for Amazon and another reason to pay close attention when hitting that send button.

Catastrophic Call-To-Actions

Any email marketer will tell you that the call-to-action (CTA) is the heart of your newsletter. If you get this wrong, then your email isn’t likely to succeed. Despite having this drilled into them since day one, many designers still manage to get it wrong. Generally speaking, your CTA should be prominent and easy to find. In this design from Macy’s, there are so many different CTAs that the customer doesn’t know where to look (or click.) If it were me opening this email, I wouldn’t be inclined to click through to their website. Too much choice is never a good thing when it comes to email marketing…

On the other hand, with this email from Tom Ford, it seems the designer was trying a little too hard to be minimalistic. So much, that the reader can barely find the CTA.. Your customers definitely won’t click on your links if they can’t even see them in the first place!

Hopefully you’ve found these epic newsletter fails somewhat amusing if not helpful! If you come across any more cringe-worthy email fails you want to share with us, drop us a tweet or send us an email!

Until next time!

Your Mail Designer 365 Team

Give Mail Designer 365 a try today for free…

Mail Designer 365 helps you create stylish, professional HTML emails on your Mac. Download for free to see what you can achieve.

 

Try for free

Useful Email Marketing Resources for Small Businesses

By | Newsletter Academy Mail Designer 365 EN

Email marketing is a huge topic, and for small businesses, it might seem like finding the appropriate tools to get the job done is an almost impossible challenge. It’s clear that there are plenty of expensive resources in place for corporations and big businesses with massive budgets and years of experience, but what about those of us who are just starting out? From one growing business to another, here are some of our top recommendations for useful email marketing resources designed to help out small businesses.

Stage One: Planning and strategy

One of the first big steps to take when planning your email marketing campaign is developing an email marketing strategy unique to your business. In our experience, blogs are a great place to find ideas and tips about best practice for email marketing. There are loads of email marketing blogs out there but two which we would really recommend are the Email on Acid blog and the Campaign Monitor blog. Both of these are run by email experts and regularly cover a wide range of interesting topics. It’s definitely worth checking them out.

Use email marketing blogs to get ideas and tips

We’ll also take this opportunity to plug our two blogs: The Newsletter Academy offers an intensive set of useful email marketing tutorials, designed to help you build up an effective email marketing strategy from the ground up. The 365 Blog is your insight into everything email. Here you can stay up to date on what’s new in the email world – perfect for keeping informed.

The Mail Designer 365 Newsletter Academy offers insightful email marketing knowledge

Stage Two: Design inspiration

Design is obviously a huge part of your email marketing campaign, as it’s often the thing which attracts your customers in the first place. Even if you don’t have a professional designer on hand, or if you’re just starting out, you don’t need to panic! There are plenty of resources out there to provide you with design inspiration and cool ideas for your next email. Really Good Emails is a great resource for businesses looking for ideas. They post best practice examples of really good email designs (the clue is in the name really) to inspire businesses and designers.

Really Good Emails showcases some of the best email designs

If you’re a Pinterest fan, then good news! As well as being an awesome place to find life hacks, cool recipe ideas and genius travel tips, Pinterest is also a great tool for your business. Thousands of designers use Pinterest to collect ideas and inspiration, and it’s easy to find amazing email designs to help you gain some new ideas. Create your own board of pins, or check out our huge selection of curated email design examples.

Check out Pinterest for creative inspiration

Stage Three: Creating your email

There’s no beating around the bush here, HTML can be hard work. Especially for small businesses and startups with a lot going on, email design can be time consuming, and, if you don’t know the ins and outs of coding, it can also be expensive to try and hire someone who does. This is where Mail Designer 365 comes in (#shamelessplugalert.) With Mail Designer 365, you can make the most of a drag and drop email builder with countless design resources and creative tools for building mobile-responsive email designs. Find out more here.

Mail Designer 365 is brilliant for quickly creating stunning HTML emails

Another great tool to help you build up your email is Unsplash. The Unsplash platform offers you free access to a huge library of license-free stock photos to use in your email designs. These images are fully licensed for use in both creative and commercial ventures, so you can find the perfect image for your design without having to worry about high costs or copyright issues. The best part? Unsplash is fully integrated within the Mail Designer 365 app, so you can search for amazing, high-quality images with no extra hassle.

Explore Unsplash for a huge range of license-free photos

Stage Four: Compatibility check

One hugely popular resource for testing the compatibility of your HTML email is Litmus. Litmus is a great resource, as it allows you to preview your email in dozens of different email clients, and also offers tools for spam testing. However, plans are pretty expensive. Basic plans start at $79 per month, and for access to spam testing, you’re looking at the Plus plan for $159 per month. There’s no denying it’s a great resource to have, but for small businesses and startups looking to save money where possible, it may not be a realistic option.

Litmus is a good but pricey option for compatibility testing

Included in the price of a Mail Designer 365 plan, users also have access to the Test Flight feature. With this, you can send a test version of your email design to up to 8 different email addresses for inbox preview. By using test accounts from the most popular email clients (e.g. Outlook, Apple Mail, Gmail, etc.), you will still gain a pretty good overview of your design’s compatibility:

Mail Designer 365’s Testflight service for testing emails before sending

In terms of spam testing, you can use the free spam checker at mail-tester.com to find out how your email rates in terms of spam filters etc. Also not a bad idea for those of you looking to save money.

Check your email for spam risks at mail-tester.com 

Stage Five: Email Service Providers

After you’ve tested your email and been given the all clear, you’re ready to send. There are tonnes of different services available for you to use to send your emails, but one of the most popular options is MailChimp. With flexible plans and the option to directly send emails from Mail Designer 365, this is definitely a resource we would recommend. Depending on the size of your email list and the volume of emails you send out per month, you may even be able to use MailChimp completely for free.

Send directly via MailChimp in Mail Designer 365

Stage Six: Performance review

The work isn’t over just because you’ve sent your email out! You want to be able to check how well your email performed so you can improve your strategy and start the cycle all over again for next time. Good marketing is all about learning and adapting from past experiences. One great tool to help you keep track of your email performance is Google Analytics. You can set up Google tracking links to help you assess how many of your readers clicked on a particular link in your email. For more detailed advice on how to set this up, check out this guide.

Use Google Analytics to check your email’s performance

We hope that you find these email marketing resources for small businesses helpful in planning and creating your next email campaigns.

Until next time!

Your Mail Designer 365 Team

Give Mail Designer 365 a try today for free…

Mail Designer 365 helps you create stylish, professional HTML emails on your Mac. Download for free to see what you can achieve.

 

Try for free

Best Google Fonts for Business Email Designs

By | Newsletter Academy Mail Designer 365 EN

The world of web fonts is huge and offers you a vast amount of potential for your email newsletters. While this may be an exciting prospect for creatives looking to try out new things and create fun and vibrant designs, for our business users, it’s a whole other story. Professionalism, branding, and consistency are all hugely important in business designs, which could put many users off the idea of web fonts. Of course, it’s easy to stick to the familiar email-safe fonts we are used to, but actually, there are fair few web fonts out there which you can use to create professional, refined email designs that still look good. Here’s our quick guide on the best Google fonts for business designs.

Quick reminder

Before you get started, as much as we encourage you to try out these business-style fonts, please remember to include at least one fallback font in the style section of your design. While the majority of email clients nowadays do support web fonts, there are still some that don’t (*ahem* we’re looking at you Outlook…) You can easily configure a fallback font for every text style in Mail Designer 365 by clicking on “Add fallback font.” This font will then be displayed if the web font is not supported.

Always add an email-safe fallback font to your text style

Open Sans

To kick things off, we’re starting with our go-to font, Open Sans. Open Sans is a great choice for minimalist business designs. With a variety of different styles available, there is something for everyone. Use the “Light” style for modern, stylish feel in your meeting minutes, or go all out and define key points with “Bold” or “Extrabold.”

Open Sans is great for minimalist business designs

Roboto

Similar to Open Sans, Roboto is a very simple all-rounder. This clear, easy to read font style is perfect for the main text of your newsletter and still makes a change from the likes of Arial and Times New Roman. Because this is such a simple typeface, it is easy to pair with another, more unique font (e.g. your logo or typical brand font) without appearing to clash or be distracting.

Roboto is a clean option for professional newsletter text

Athithi

Athithi is a nice choice for a tech newsletter. If your business is tech oriented or you work in the IT business, you might want to try using this font to add a modern twist to your design while still remaining serious and professional. Try using “Medium” or “Bold” to give your headlines some emphasis.

Athithi is a stylish choice for tech firms

Cormorant Infant

Breaking away from the sans serif styles, Cormorant Infant is a serif font which offers a much more traditional feel. While sans serif fonts are more modern and simplified, serif fonts are great for the more classical business vibe. Try using “Bold” for an assertive headline for your business consultancy agency or legal practice. Alternatively, “Light” and “Regular” work well for a twist on standard newsletter text while still remaining clear and elegant.

A very traditional serif business font. Great for legal practices.

Montserrat

Another highly popular Google font, Montserrat brings a bit more attitude to your design. This font choice would work extremely well as a CTA for your email newsletter.

A powerful typeface to bring definition to your CTA

Playfair Display

A slightly more interesting choice, Playfair Display is an elegant, serif typeface, well-suited to announcements, updates, or company news. Give this font a go in your shareholders’ newsletter or your monthly round up.

An elegant font great for business announcements

We hope you have found these Google font tips for business designs helpful and that you’ll give them a go in your next email newsletter. As you can see, it definitely makes a nice change to always using Times New Roman and Arial and all fonts are available license free in Mail Designer 365. For more help with downloading web fonts, check out this FAQ.

Until next time,

Your Mail Designer 365 Team!

Give Mail Designer 365 a try today for free…

Mail Designer 365 helps you create stylish, professional HTML emails on your Mac. Download for free to see what you can achieve.

 

Try for free

NEW Mail Designer 365 Now Supports the macOS Mojave Beta: All You Need to Know

By | Mail Designer 365 Blog
The moment we’ve all been waiting for has finally arrived – the macOS 10.14 beta is live! The best news? You can already start testing it out with Mail Designer 365! After weeks of speculation, macOS Mojave was announced on Monday at the annual WWDC. With an interesting set of new features and some significant changes within Apple Mail, we’re going to take you through everything you need to know about using Mail Designer 365 together with the Mojave beta. Read More

Keep Customers in the Loop: How to Craft an Engaging Email Newsletter

By | Newsletter Academy Mail Designer 365 EN

We’re all familiar with the typical email marketer’s arsenal; you have the standard set of transactional emails, as well as the odd sales or promotional email, but there’s one more thing which often goes overlooked – the email newsletter.

Although widely accepted as a key part of email marketing, the email newsletter is not something which is utilised by every business. This is a mistake! An engaging email newsletter is the perfect way to keep your customers up to date and informed about what is going on in your business. Unlike a generic sales or transactional email, the newsletter gives you the opportunity to combine multiple marketing elements into one email and, at the same time, provide your customers with interesting content about your field of business. Here are our top tips for crafting engaging email newsletters.

The eye-catcher

To kick off your newsletter, it’s a good idea to include an eye-catching graphic or header image to set the tone of the email, and, most importantly, grab your reader’s attention. This could be an image, text style, or a GIF, but the main thing to think about is whether it is fitting to your email message and on brand for your business. Don’t forget to prominently position your logo at the top of the email design so that your readers know straight away the email is from you. In this Valentine’s Day themed email from Philosophy, the brand’s logo takes center stage at the top of the page, followed by a dazzling pink graphic which conveys the theme of the email straight away.

The colors in this vibrant design are great at generating attention

Introduce the theme

In an email newsletter, it can be beneficial to include a short and friendly introduction to give readers overview of the theme of your newsletter. This should get them on board from the get go. Make your introduction snappy, engaging and, most of all, interesting enough that customers will want to read more. In this example from Boots, the reader receives a nice welcome to the newsletter, giving  them a quick overview about the theme of the email and enticing them to read on for more information.

Include a welcome message like this one from Boots to introduce your theme

Layout

The layout of your newsletter is important, as it determines whether or not your reader will be able to clearly follow the information you have provided. Too much text is long and boring, and too many images make the email difficult to load and may cause viewing problems in some email clients. Try to include a healthy balance of text and images in your email layouts. We would always recommend including at least one main text block so recipients who have disabled images in their email client can still see the main message of your email.

Try out the combi layout blocks in Mail Designer 365 to create a clear and stylish design.

Great content

Of course, the most important aspect of your email newsletter is the content you include. If this content does not interest your readers, they will be less likely to open your emails, and could even choose to unsubscribe. There are three key things you can work on to make sure your content is engaging for your email newsletter:

1. Relevance: Is this content relevant to my field of business and to my target audience? Your customers have most likely chosen to subscribe to your newsletter as they have an interest in the industry you are in and want to hear more about it. It is good practice to consider how relevant your newsletter content really is before deciding to include it in the final draft.

2. Variety: Is this content unique and interesting? There’s nothing worse than sending dull and repetitive emails, your customers will soon get bored and lose interest. Try to make sure you have a good amount of variation when it comes to your newsletter. You can try switching between factual articles, review-style blog posts, featured product launches, news about your business, or other media such as gifs and videos, to keep things vibrant and interesting.

We like the variety included in this newsletter by Typeform.

3. Promotion: Is this content helpful in promoting my product or service? Although email newsletters go further than the standard sales email, the main goal is still to market your business. Make sure that your content always works to promote your product or service. You could include product reviews, customer testimonials, example of how your product could help solve a common problem in the industry, useful tips or tutorials, and more, to paint your business in the best possible light.

Call-to-Action

Your email newsletter goes way beyond the email itself. As with any marketing material, your newsletter should contain at least one CTA (call-to-action) to direct customers towards your website, online store, blog, or whatever it is you are trying to promote. This post will tell you more about how to create CTA buttons that shine, but the main thing is to remember to make them stand out amongst the rest of your content. The bright pink CTA buttons in this design from Oasis are standout and work great with the summery theme of the email.

Vibrant CTAs like these ones from Oasis are super effective

Don’t forget the footer

Last but certainly not least, the footer. As well as giving you the chance to leave a lasting impression on your readers, this is also the most common place to insert any useful company information, disclaimers, and contact details, as well as the super important unsubscribe link.

We recommend that you always use a standard footer and only edit the information when absolutely necessary. That way, your designs remain consistent for your readers and you can be sure that you have all of the necessary information. Use the footer to link to your social media sites, your blog, or your customer support system.

Make sure your design footer contains relevant and essential information

This footer by H&M is informative and provides readers with all important links such as social media sites and the sign up page for a customer loyalty card. In addition, the company also protect themselves by including a legal disclaimer and an unsubscribe link.

Final thoughts

If you stick to these tips, you should be well on the way to crafting amazing email newsletters full of engaging content that your recipients will want to read. To go one step further, it’s great practice to also stick to a regular sending schedule (i.e. once a week every Tuesday or the first of each month.) This will help to get your customers used to your email newsletter and look forward to your emails, and also helps you to provide consistent content and plan better. Happy Designing!

Until next time,

Your Mail Designer 365 Team

Give Mail Designer 365 a try today for free…

Mail Designer 365 helps you create stylish, professional HTML emails on your Mac. Download for free to see what you can achieve.

 

Try for free