E-mail communications can seem like a dream-come-true for advertisers: a large audience, low costs, and even pathways to finding interested segments of that audience. Unfortunately, because of the hazards of relying on internet communications (read: spam galore), many web users are becoming increasingly wary of all kinds of e-mails, even those that seem to cater to their interests. As users become more disenchanted with e-mail communications, it is important for organizations that use e-mail marketing to design their e-mails carefully so that they don't turn away potentially interested readers.
The "E-mail Diva" of MediaPost Publications, Melinda Krueger, recently wote an article, "The Four Deadly Sins of E-mail Design" about MediaPost's E-mail Makeover Panel at its Insider Summit. In her article she outlines a few of the Makeover Specialists findings--more specifically, what went wrong that can put readers off. So what are the 4 deadly sins? They're more traditional than you might think: envy, gluttony, pride, and and sloth.
All of the "sins" relate to one central mistake--ignoring the e-mail as a specific medium, which has rules that can greatly vary from other types of advertising. Designers "envy those who do print ads" and often focus their efforts of the entire page, ignoring the fact that the people they are trying to impress will only see it in pieces as they open the e-mail and read through it. They are "gluttonous" with graphics, failing to respond to the tenet that "the role of graphics is to guide the eye through the copy, not dominate the view." They are guided by "pride" rather than fact, refusing to do marketing tests even though e-mail marketing can be "counterintuitive." Finally, they commit "sloth," avoiding the extra (but important work) of asking: "how does it look when rendered by the many different e-mail clients and ISPs?" E-mail marketing may seem like an effortless task, but to be truly effective, it's important to remember that e-mailing requires some efforts of its own.
Source: MediaPost's E-mail Insider (must create free MediaPoster account to view article)