email marketing best practices

First Impressions: How Typography Helps (or Hurts) Your Email Marketing Campaign

We all know it’s inner beauty that really counts, but unfortunately, we form a first impression in less than two seconds, based entirely on superficial appearance and presentation. And, like it or not, first impressions influence our beliefs and ultimate receptivity to the whole.

Wait, you didn’t think we were talking about people, did you? While the power of first impressions upon meeting others is undeniable, the same principle applies to email campaigns.

You might have the most interesting, relevant, sexy, or innovative content in the world but your audience isn’t going to read it if your typography and design overwhelms it (in a bad way). Ensuring your email design and typography is clean and easy to read will eliminate any unnecessary communication barriers to your effective email marketing campaign.

A bit of consideration to formatting and clean typography will go a long way to getting your emails read, which leads to improved email deliverability, open rates, and click-through rates. In your email marketing campaigns, be sure to:

  • Simplify colors! No one needs a rainbow in their email. Keep a simple color palette of no more than 2 or 3 colors (at the most). Ensure your headlines are strong and easy to read, and use a secondary highlight color for any call to actions. Contrasting colors help define hierarchy, allowing readers to scan and easily parse out the most relevant information. Pastels and lighter colors are definitely to be avoided!
  • Minimize the number of typefaces, sizes, styles and weights. Don’t confuse your readers with a hodgepodge of fonts, sizes, and weights. As with colors, keep the typeface simple and clean.
  • Be consistent! Consistency is the key to effective presentation and responsiveness from your readers; after all, familiarity breeds comfort! When they become familiar with your clean and eye-catching emails, as long as your content is good your readers will look forward to scanning your emails for useful and relevant information. To ensure consistency in every email, spend some time crafting a good template of headers, subheads, colors, and so on.
  • Kill clutter. Maximize white space and ensure ease of skimming and reading by breaking up your content into small and digestible chunks. Use visual elements like bullet points, line spacing, and indentations to help distinguish points in your message and improve scannability.

Remember, email marketing best practices are not the same as novel writing best practices! People don’t curl up with their email, they get through them as quickly as possible – click, scan, delete. Combined with good content, design simplicity will ensure more email opens, increased email click through numbers, and higher email deliverability rates.

Published On: August 26th, 2011Categories: Email marketing best practicesTags:

About the Author: Sharon

Sharon Ernst from is on a mission to improve the business and marketing writing skills of today’s workforce with her blog, newsletter and online classes. Her newest class on intermediate email copywriting covers 19 tips and techniques non-copywriters can put to use right away for better results. The class has real-life examples and before/after comparisons to make the lessons stick. Find her class at When she’s not busy helping employees, managers and marketers master their writing skills, she and her husband are busy raising pigs, cows, chickens and vegetables on their 20-acre farm.

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