With an email template we can quickly and easily create an email. But what does a good email marketing template actually look like? Should it be more of a text email? Or would you prefer a colorful HTML email?

To the great delight of communications and marketing professionals, an Amazon email template was shared on Reddit a few months ago. The company had accidentally sent out a template with detailed instructions for successful marketing emails. Shortly after, the whole thing was on the web and we got a glimpse of how the Internet giant builds its email templates. For anyone who sends email, a bit of a godsend.

I took the opportunity to set up guidelines and best practices for email marketing templates. I then translated these findings directly into an example for our open source email marketing software Mautic. You can find our Mautic template at the end of the post.

First, let’s take a look at what the reasoning behind building Amazon’s email template is:

Amazon Email Template

What we want to achieve with email marketing

Basically, we as a company have a clear goal with a marketing email: we want to send a message to the person receiving it and trigger a reaction in that person.

For this to succeed, various hurdles must be overcome. On the one hand, everything has to be technically correct so that the e-mail ends up in the inbox (and not in spam) in the first place. On the other hand, the content of the email must also be convincing.

Challenges in email marketing

  1. The email must be opened by the customer
  2. Trust and relevance must be generated within a few seconds
  3. It must be possible to grasp the message and the added value quickly
  4. The right tone makes the difference, the content should entertain without appearing unprofessional.
  5. The desired reaction must fit and be easy to execute

Best Practices based on the Amazon E-Mail Template

Let’s look at the individual elements of the email template and their purpose in detail:

  1. Logo
  2. Stimmungsbild
  3. Überschrift
  4. Drei Text Paragraphen
  5. Der Call to Action (C2A)
  6. Footer Links

It is immediately obvious that it is an email from Amazon. This creates trust.

Stimmungsbild

The picture gives the first impression. The goal of the image is to set the mood, evoke emotion and get the recipient to read the headline.

For the image to meet this goal, it should attract attention, add value, be interesting, and match the content (Visual Newsletters, Nielsen Norman Group).

Photos of real people work very well here. Eye tracking tests(Photos as web content, Nielsen Norman Group) showed this more than 10 years ago. However, generic stock photos or mood images are often simply hidden.

It is also important that the image does not overwhelm the reader. Or, that it even completely distracts from the headline.

In addition, we must also take into account here that it is not displayed by default in many e-mail programs (e.g. Outlook).

Amazon has chosen a 600px x 200px image in their E-Mail template here. This provides enough room, but also doesn’t take up an overwhelming amount of space.

The headline sums it up succinctly

The headline is one of the most important parts of the entire email. Based on the headline, readers decide whether to read the rest of the content or ignore the email, delete it directly, or even unsubscribe from the newsletter.

A good headline is a small challenge. It is important to know the target group (persona) and their current needs (journey, job to be done). The headline sums up why this email is important. What added value does the email bring to the reader? What do they get out of it?

Remember what point in the customer journey your contact is at. Which persona does s/he correspond to? What is his/her current need? How can I bring him/her an added value with my email that costs as little (effort) as possible?

3 short paragraphs that create a melody

This is where the music plays! The text should be tidy, at the same time not a boring string of words. Start with short five-word sentences. Like the first sentence here. Because short sentences are easy to grasp. (Okay, that’s seven words now, too). Only in the second and third paragraphs are longer sentences used.

This text structure does not originate from Amazon itself. Writer Gary Provost published it in his book,Make Every Word Count. Provost understood that the combination of short and long sentences creates a melody of words that attracts readers.

The Call To Action (C2A) must create an urge to act

How do you create a C2A that generates a reaction. A C2A that makes the reader of the email click on it immediately? There is little scientific evidence to back this up. This is because the appropriate call depends on a number of factors:

  • the readers
  • the product
  • the sales argument
  • the general marketing strategy

It is therefore advisable to try out different texts using A/B testing.

The C2A should elicit an immediate response – a drive to act. Readers should have the feeling that they have to click on it because otherwise they will miss out on some of the value.

It sounds simple, but it is shocking how many companies “forget” this advice. Time and time again I see emails or marketing campaigns that just say “click here” or read more about it “here”.

With C2A, on the other hand, not too much pressure should be created. Words that want to force the reader of the email to do something should also be avoided.

Amazon would do well to remind the author of the email directly in the template.

Best practices for good email call-to-actions

So use words of things readers want to do!

Words to avoid in email call-to-actions are:

  • Buy
  • Register
  • Give
  • Invest
  • Donate/Support
  • Submit
  • Lock

Words to use in email call-to-actions are:

  • Received
  • Test/trial
  • Discover
  • Earn

Some examples of good email call-to-actions are:

  • View subscription options
  • Learn more about the options
  • Try for free
  • Discover now
  • Improve your email marketing
  • Get the e-book

Optimize the E-Mail template structure for scanners and screaners

We know from usability tests that only very few people read the whole email. Customers scan the images, titles and C2A. If they are interested in the content, they know to click on the C2A to get to the “right” information.

This again gives the text on the button a very important role. He decides whether the reader (or should I say scanner and screaner?) goes one step further.

The E-Mail template has a very prominent button, not just linked text, so it can be found quickly and evaluated for added value.

Again, the email must be tailored to the needs of the reader. The more personalized, the more relevant, the better the performance.

We can’t always be right about what the next logical step is for the interested reader (maybe the email is forwarded). Therefore, alternative links should also be available in the footer. So especially for those who scroll all the way down because they are still looking for something. In this way, interested readers can find an approach to the topic that suits them.

Our Mautic Template

We have combined all the best practices shown in a high quality E-Mail template. The template is of course responsive and appears attractive and readable in all common e-mail programs.

Mautic Template: E-Mail Image Text

In this way, we want to ensure that our customers can easily implement successful email marketing campaigns. With the template, they can focus entirely on the content. Who wants to constantly reinvent the wheel when it’s all about the load! For this reason, we also offer other best practice Mautic templates. For our customers we adapt the template to their own CI/CD. All receive this template for free as of today.

Even if you don’t use our open source email marketing solution Mautic yet, you can try the email template on our demo server for free, or get it from our template store.

All beginnings are easy.

Whether you are a marketing manager, founder or simply curious: Our 30min webinar is exactly for those of you, wanting to know more about marketing automation with Aivie.

Register now for our free Aivie webinar.

What did you do well? What do you like most about it? What has worked well before? I welcome comments and feedback.

Do you know anyone who could currently use an email marketing template? Then feel free to forward her or him this post.

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