5 tips to create engaging email campaigns

5 tips to create engaging email campaigns
March 17, 2015 Andrew Davey

This article explains five of the techniques that we employed in our recent email campaign. These tips, along with well-considered design & coding can result in emails that gain the desired reaction.

You can see the actual email here.

Email with images ON

1. The inverted pyramid model

  • Grab attention
  • Build anticipation
  • Call to action

The top section of the email, with a clear value proposition and benefit, directs viewing towards the call to action button.

2. Call to action

  • Specific
  • Benefit focused
  • Colour contrast
  • Size
  • Space
  • Audience ownership

Specify what benefit the audience receives when the button is used.

The colour yellow, a warning colour in nature, is believed to increase responses when used as a button as it triggers the amygdala part of the brain into fight or flight action. Being a good size and providing spacing around it adds to stand-off.

Changing the first person from subjective to objective (you to me) gives ownership to the audience which can significantly increase responses.

3. Animation

  • Arrow to button
  • Graph
  • Venn diagram

Having some motion in a busy inbox can really help get an email noticed. The top arrow also enforces the inverted pyramid design leading to the call to action.

Email with images OFF

4. Stylising for images off

  • Arrow text character used
  • Graph and Venn diagram graphic
  • Social links use brand colours

Given that much email software does not load images in emails by default, it’s important not to rely on them to get a message across. With images off, often the picture’s alt atribute will be displayed instead, styling these with text size, colour & using unusual characters can really add to the design. Using social media channels’ primary brand colours behind their icons makes it obvious what these ubiquitous buttons are too.

5. Image displays with images off

  • Avatar shows when images are off

For the more techie minded here, our avatar at the bottom of the email is actually a table of coloured cells (1,518 of them!) rather than an image, so it displays even when images are off.

6, 7, 8…

The techniques we illustrated here best explain the simple proposition 5 tips but there is a lot more that we do to ensure a campaign is a success, including many things we haven’t mentioned about this email.

Credit should be given to campaignmonitor.com, litmus.com, unbounce.com and getvero.com for all the great tips, blogs and podcasts over the years.


  1. Anne 5 years ago

    Hi, It’s great to see how this looks when pictures don’t load, especially your company logo at the bottom. Do you know how many people don’t load pictures?

    • Rhys Harry 5 years ago

      Hi Anne, glad you like the ‘images off’ work we’ve put into this, the RG icon took quite a bit of tweaking to get right. In regard to how many people don’t see images by default – it depends on your audience but as a rule of thumb the more office/business addresses the more likley it is that they won’t see images by default. Campaign Monitor have a great guide to which email applications do & don’t show images by default https://www.campaignmonitor.com/resources/will-it-work/image-blocking/

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