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Graphical Email Best Practices

January 17, 2016 // Insights

Catchy Communication: Graphical Email Best Practices

By Lacey Carrier, Technology Solutions Designer and Samantha Phillippe, Account Manager, Attend-eSource® Services

As the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words” – and the same is especially true for event communications. When sending out an initial email to event or conference attendees, what your message looks like can be almost as important as what it says.

No matter the event, a graphical email’s use of colorful images, creative fonts and attention-grabbing design make it a very powerful marketing tool. At metroConnections, we have clients who request graphical emails to be designed for internal use, such as a holiday party or employee outing, all the way up to messages intended for vendors, partners and conference or event attendees. Whether it’s being sent to a small office or to thousands of contacts, there are certain design standards and best practices to keep in mind in order to ensure the most effective, successful communication.

Cast Your Line

When a client approaches our design team, the email creation process can vary – some clients have already created a brand for their event and send our designers the graphics they want to use, while others come to us empty-handed. In the latter situation, our designers work with clients to create a website that reflects their event ideas and then match the theme of the website to an email design. We prefer to build the website first, as it tends to be more expansive in its design; it’s easier to pare it down to create the graphical email, as opposed to starting with an email and having to add more design elements to build the website.

Creating a graphical email requires a fine balance between text and imagery. Too many words can be overwhelming at first glance; too many graphics and the message gets lost. There are some definite must-haves when it comes to information, such as the event name, location and dates, and occasionally our designers will also include additional key details or registration instructions. A well-selected graphic can often speak for itself in regards to the theme or location, saving you from having to spell it out. Many events are promoted with a series of emails, so it’s important to keep each individual message concise in order to effectively convey your particular objective.

Get Them Hooked

Graphical emails work particularly well for save the dates and invitations, as they are an easily-accessible, cost-effective way of getting event branding in front of the attendee. Rather than a dull, text-only email, something a little more fun and flashy can really generate excitement and buzz. We like to use the graphical email design throughout the entire event or conference process, from registration to final wrap-up, in order to reinforce branding – that includes the event website, mobile app and even décor at the actual event. Since graphical emails are usually the first time attendees are seeing the event branding and theme, our designers make sure that the emails accurately reflect the feel of the event.

Of course, an exciting email design isn’t worth much without the important details, so include high-level essentials in the initial email. From there, readers can be directed to the website for full agendas, conference or event logistics and any additional information they may need.

Reel Them In

So you’ve got an attractive graphical email design… now how do you make sure that it actually gets read by its intended recipients? Regardless of the type of event, it is important to have a catchy subject line to make sure the email gets opened. For example, “Enjoy Sand, Surf and S’mores at our Annual Company Beach Bonfire!” will definitely get more attention than “Annual Company Outing Information”.

Though you may have a clever subject line, some email service providers have filters that block images, even work-appropriate ones, so it’s important to ensure that the graphics in your email aren’t the only way to convey information. Add a text line at the top of the email that directs recipients to a web version of the message, so those with overly-stringent email filters can also view it.

While you may have a subject line that draws readers in and a good-looking email that provides them the necessary information, your graphical email’s job isn’t done yet! If it is important to the client that they receive RSVPs for both attendees and those declining, they will get a much higher response rate if both options are included in the email in button format. This encourages additional action from all invitees, particularly those not attending. When presented with RSVP buttons in the actual email, rather than having to click a link to load the event website and reply there, recipients will appreciate the time-saving option and be more likely to reply.

Don’t try to save time by sending a text-based email for conferences or events. Graphical emails are enticing to readers, and including only the most relevant information will ensure that key points are remembered. A series of graphical emails can generate excitement while increasing anticipation of the event. Plus, armed with the above recommendations, you can count on increased involvement, interest and engagement.

Lacey Carrier joined the metroConnections team in 2006, working first as a registration manager before moving into her current position of technology solutions designer. Carrier demonstrates attention to detail, combining a tech-savvy nature with creativity to excel in her position. As a designer, she builds registration forms, event websites, mobile apps, event emails and event surveys, working with clients’ account managers to see a project through from start to finish. Carrier holds a B.S. in Marketing from St. Cloud State University.

Samantha Phillippe began her work at metroConnections in 2014, joining the team as an account coordinator. Now an account manager of Attend-eSource® Services, Phillippe works with clients on registration technology and attendee management needs, providing attendees with a great first impression of the event. Prior to working at metro, she earned a B.A. in Communication Studies and Sociology from Concordia College and served as a community engagement event planner at Thrivent Financial.

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