King Content Has Been Overthrown. All Hail King Design!

What if your email is the first communication a super busy consumer has ever received from you? Do you really expect her to read through even 100 words of good content when your brand is still a relative stranger to her? If so, your efforts are wasted.

You can labor over that language for as many hours and days as you want to invest, but all that text won’t be what sucks her into your email. The design will.

And as mobile only gets more mainstream, that design becomes ever more important. It becomes the new king. Yes you need to publish quality content as it has a big role to play but then guess who does the heavy lifting and engages the consumer who opens? Your email design, that’s who…or what. King Design.

How many seconds do you have?

You literally have only a split second to interest someone in your email —a microsecond, an instant. You’re making a first impression and it happens lickety split, then sticks around forever.

The first impression is not made when they take the time to read your text. The first impression is made in an instant when they first see it. Boom! Impression made. Impression stuck.

So what constitutes good email design?

Not that I’m saying your email should be all graphics. Au contraire! Making design the new king does not a despot make. Design is much more like a benevolent ruler, and just enough will suffice. Plus you have to factor in that not all subjects will have images turned on in their email clients. Therefore, cramming your email template full of visuals is not the answer. Being thoughtful, careful, creative is…plus testing: lots and lots and lots of testing your emails.

Heck, your great design can be super duper simple, so simple it might only consist of:

  • One priceless picture
  • One quick question
  • One hot headline
  • One bold background
  • One crazy call to action
  • One sizzling sentence

I’m not saying every design should be so stripped down as to have only one element, but I am trying to help you see that you don’t have to go overboard with the email design to make something impactful. Just put a whole lot of thought into making your first impression exactly what you want it to be, using whatever design elements make it so.

The old adage “content is king” existed long before instant communications, fancy smart phones and short attention spans. Content can only reign supreme when the people you’re contacting want to invest some time in figuring out what you have to say. I think that makes it more of a page these days, don’t you?

All hail the new king of email design!

Scott Hardigree

Neck deep in email marketing since 1997. Founder of Email Industries , the folks behind Indiemark, Email Critic and Alfred Knows email verification recommendation service.