Marketing has changed over the last few decades, and that too substantially. The traditional marketing methods have taken a back seat and made way for the more technology-driven methods of marketing products, services, and solutions. With the advent of the latest technology and digital media, communication channels have also changed. Social media marketing and email marketing have been driving most of the marketing campaigns these days.
Emails are a huge part of our professional and personal lives, and holds equal importance for us as consumers. Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach and engage with your audience. The very first and critical aspect of email marketing is to create an effective email template. In this article, we will guide you in creating a responsive, modern outlook email template from scratch, while understanding the various challenges involved in doing so.
So let’s get started!
Before deep-diving into the process of creating business email templates, let us first understand the challenges attached to creating HTML email templates. Email development is a ponderous task for many web developers or email developers who are not used to it. There are many factors which are to be kept in mind while developing them.
You need to ensure that your Outlook email is responsive for different screen sizes and devices.
Your emails should not be too heavy, taking ages to load. They must load quickly.
The dimensions are also to be considered. Make sure your email is no wider than 650px.
Ensure that background image support for Outlook is available
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Creating responsive email templates from scratch
1. Creating a Boilerplate template
Developing an Outlook email template is a daunting task, which requires a lot of patience. A seemingly small formatting issue can make you pull your hair. A boilerplate template comes to your rescue here. A Boilerplate template is a starter layout which is required to make the HTML work. It acts as a platform for you in developing the email template. Starter layouts include all the necessary CSS, tags, and attributes that are required to render an email, so that you don’t start the code from scratch every time. It includes the following attributes:
2. Building an email body
The body of an email is the content that you first see when you open an email. It includes the header, footer, call to action etc. The overall structure of an HTML email starts with a <body> tag. It is essential to set the margins and paddings of the body tag to zero, so that there is no unexpected space around the layout.
Plain white can work well if you intend to go for a minimal design, otherwise, you should define a default background color of the body. Some of the email clients do not support body CSS properties. So, create a full-width table and set the background color to it. Make sure your table’s cell padding and cell spacing are set to zero – to avoid unexpected spaces.
3. Defining Grid Structure
Grids bring order to a layout. Readers find it easier to navigate through information with the help of a grid structure. The grid-template CSS property is a shorthand property for defining grid columns, rows and areas.
The email width should not be more than 650px to maintain design consistency across email clients. Whatever content you have, it should be organized between 650px of canvas.
The grid structure is a technique of creating different columns inside full width (650px) table. These grids(columns) are used to define the title, images and text for various kinds of content. It increases readability and design consistency of an email, leading to better audience interaction and engagement.
Another point to remember is to make grids responsive. It helps in striking design consistency and behaviour across multiple platforms – desktops, tablets, mobiles, email clients etc. A responsive grid provides flexibility to create one email (web version), which is adaptive to all the mobile devices as well as email clients.
4. Following best CSS Practices
CSS refers to the styling part of an email template. There are numerous styling options available these days, and the CSS properties are exponential. However, not all the CSS properties work properly across leading email clients. Therefore, using traditional CSS, which renders for all the versions of email clients and browsers, is the best practice. Latest CSS techniques like flexbox, animations and transformations are not supported by HTML emails. Always use table layout with inline CSS to build a Hybrid email design for popular email clients and browsers.
5. Ensuring Accessibility
The number of people worldwide with some sort of visual impairment is in billions. With the availability of various adaptive technologies, such as screen readers and screen magnifiers, or the eye-tracking technology, visually impaired and disabled people use computers, tablets and smartphones, and access the internet like never before.
A logical order must be followed while designing the email template. The text and the background must be contrasting colors to ensure good visibility. Include semantic elements as it allows readers to scan through an email by its header. You can do this by using <p> and <h> tags. Use big fonts and make all the links clickable. The voice assistants like Siri and Cortana must be able to recite the email.
6. Making it Outlook ready
A broken email means a disappointed subscriber. A lot of email components which work on the browser, do not work on email clients. An email which works completely fine on Gmail, might not work on Outlook, because of specific components. You should stick to the best coding practices to create a responsive email template and maintain design consistency across platforms. We will cover this in-depth in a separate blog altogether.
You’re all set to launch your email campaign now. An Outlook email template is best suited to address a larger audience and creating marketing campaigns. Combine the HTML and images, and upload it to desired ESP. You can create beautiful personalised campaigns and automations, across multiple devices, without worrying about rendering issues using our ready-to-use responsive email templates. Get started!