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HTML Email Newsletters for Artists

By Paul Watson on .

I’m going to concentrate on HTML email design here rather than best practice for sending your emails or building your email list.

Suffice to say that you should never email someone without their clear and express permission (opt-in NOT opt-out should be your strategy) – don’t get impatient and cut corners because your email list is growing too slowly for your liking.

Many people still want to receive update via email, and it’s certainly something I continue to get a good response from (here’s my sign-up form if you want to subscribe).

Here’s an example of one of my email newsletters (it might be worth opening it in a new tab or window while you read this post). I want to explain why I design it like I do.

1. Minimal design & branding:

I’ve noticed a growing tendency to “over-design” HTML emails – too many emails use far too many graphics and fancy layouts, trying to emulate a web page.

However an email is not a web page and shouldn’t be designed like one. I use minimalist “branding” and layout – a red bar across the top and a graphic at the top right.

2. A big font size and lots of whitespace:

Emails are full of text trying to impart information and promote your artwork.  Reading emails with small font sizes makes reading all this text hard work – your readers are likely to ignore your email.

I use a nice big 16px sans-serif font combined with plenty of whitespace that makes it easy for people to scan through the email.  This makes it more likely that they’ll (a) bother reading it, and (b) be able to quickly spot something they’re interested in.

I also insert quite a few sub-headings in bold to further help people scan through the email and spot items of interest.

3. A personalised salutation:

Any email that includes my real name clearly at the top gets far more attention than a non-personalised email.

The inclusion of my name means I must have provided some information (my name) to the sender and so the email is far less likely to be spam – and far more likely to be something I actually want to (and have asked to) receive.

4. A few small graphics:

To break up the text and provide elements of interest I include a handful (just two images in the example) – large images take longer to load and clutter up the email.

Typically the images I use are around 100px square – although I have occasionally used slightly larger images if it’s justified.

5. Clearly defined links with relevant link text:

I use a red colour for links (as I do on my website) and always use relevant link text.

I frequently use bulletted lists to list recent blog posts rather than just a link to the front page of a blog – it helps the email recipient scan through the posts and go directly to one which catches their attention.

6. Clear unsubscribe link at the bottom:

Don’t be tempted to make this smaller to put people off unsubscribing – they’ll just flag your email as junk mail if they can’t easily unsubscribe, and that could end up with your email being blocked for people who do want to receive it.

If you have any comments, please leave them below.

And of course you can always sign up to the (approximately monthly) Lazarus Corporation email newsletter for the latest updates on the artwork from the artists here.