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Effective emails are made up of several key components. Learn about best practices surrounding the main components of your email message below.

1. From Name & Email Address

Your From Name and From Email Address are your calling card. They should be recognizable and clearly indicate from who the email is coming. This information signals to the subscriber that the email is coming from a trusted source. Follow these Do’s and Don’ts when determining your From Name and Email Address:

  • Don’t use a “no-reply” email address. For example, This sends the message to your subscribers that you don’t care about their feedback.
  • Do Encourage subscribers to engage and reply to your emails. When subscribers reply to your emails, it boosts your sender reputation.
  • Don’t use false or misleading header information to stay CAN-SPAM compliant. Check to ensure your From, To, Reply-To, and domain name are accurate and correctly identifies your nonprofit.

2. Subject Line

Most email clients won’t show more than 43 characters of a Subject Line in mobile view. Keep this in mind to ensure your Subject Line won’t get cut off. Follow the Do’s and Don’ts below when crafting your perfect Subject Line:

  • Don’t use deceptive subject lines. The Subject Line must accurately reflect the content of the email.
  • Do run A/B tests with two distinct versions to see which Subject Line is most likely to earn a higher Open Rate.

3. Preheader Text

Preheader text is a short summary that follows the Subject Line when viewing an email from the inbox. Utilize this space to expand on your Subject Line and further entice the subscriber to open the email.

4. Image

Every component of your email should have a purpose and your email image is no exception. For each image in your email, consider why you are including it. Does it relate to your content? Does it convey the message you want? Ensure your image relates to your content and placed optimally to support your message. Follow these tips when building your email:

  • Do strive for a balanced image-to-text ratio. Emails that are too image heavy can trigger spam filters. Aim for a minimum of 60% text and a maximum of 40% image coverage, with at least 400 characters of text.
  • Do include a descriptive alternative text (alt text) for images to help subscribers get a sense of the message content if images are not rendered. Alt text is also read to visually impaired subscribers who are using screen readers. If an email is missing alt text, this can be a spam filter trigger and your emails may be diverted to the spam folder.

5. Personalization

Personalize the body of your email, Subject Line, or Preheader to make it more relevant to your subscribers. Instead of receiving an email with generic messaging, your subscribers will receive an email that is targeted directly to them. Personalization can help increase your engagement rates.

6. Body copy

Subscribers spend an average of 8 seconds on an email. Craft concise and compelling copy that focuses on a single call to action to engage your Subscribers. When putting your email together, the following tip will help further drive engagement.

  • Do ensure any hyperlinked text is descriptive. Avoid hyperlinking ambiguous phrases like “click here”.

7. Call to Action button

A good call to action tells subscribers exactly what you expect them to do. Use action oriented words that are clear and concise. Follow these tips when designing your email call to action button:

  • Do use color contrast to make your CTA button stand out
    Don’t get fancy with the design of your buttons. If your buttons don’t actually look like buttons then subscribers may not realize they are supposed to click.
  • Don’t use images for your call to action buttons. Build your buttons with code instead. By only using code, the button will display in all email clients even with images turned off.

8. Unsubscribe link

You must include a way for subscribers to unsubscribe to stay CAN-SPAM compliant. Never hide the unsubscribe link. Opting-out should be clear and easy for the subscriber. Including an unsubscribe link to the footer of your emails is an easy way to achieve this. Follow the additional tip below when putting together your email footer:

  • Do offer a one-click unsubscribe as well as a way to “opt-down” through a preference center. This helps put the subscriber in control of what types of emails they receive from you.

9. Physical Address

To stay CAN-SPAM compliant, you must include your physical business address in your email. Include your physical business address to the footer of your emails.

10. Mobile-friendly email design

Create templates that are mobile friendly to ensure your emails displays optimally between a desktop or laptop and a mobile device. Screen space is very valuable on mobile. Maximize space by being concise in your template design and content. Follow these tips when creating mobile friendly emails:

  • Do Use a single column template. Often, with multi-column layouts, your subscribers have to zoom in to see everything. Using a single column template will make your content much more flexible for all screen sizes.
  • Don’t use tiny fonts. Make sure your text can be read easily. Use a minimum of size 14pt font for body text and 22pt for headlines.