Email marketing is one of a few marketing channels that are wide open for cannabis brands to generate leads and connect with consumers (both B2C and B2B) across the entire customer journey. However, people’s inboxes are cluttered these days, and email service providers (ESPs) – like Gmail, Outlook, Apple Mail, and others – use extensive algorithms to keep unwanted email out of recipients’ inboxes. As a result, this wide open marketing channel can be difficult for cannabis brands to effectively leverage.
The email marketing topic is a big one, and there are many things cannabis brands can do to ensure their campaigns make it to inboxes and drive the actions from recipients that they want. One of the things your cannabis or cannabis-related business can do to achieve success with email marketing is to understand how design influences results and what trends are currently helping brands get positive results.
Following are three key design trends that matter today:
According to research by Litmus, the average time recipients spend reading an email messages is 10 seconds. That means you need to get your point across as quickly as possible, and that point needs to be something that recipients want to hear from you. Clarity is absolutely crucial to email marketing success today. This includes clarity of your subject line, message, offer, and design.
The reality is, it’s extremely unlikely that someone will receive your email message and read it from start to finish. Most people consume email messages and digital content by scanning first for relevance. Hence, clarity of message is critical, but the layout of the message can either aid or hinder a recipient’s ability to quickly scan your message content for relevance. Remember, this evaluation happens on average in fewer than 10 seconds, so your email marketing campaigns should use a design layout that aids clarity.
Nielsen Norman Group conducted eye tracking research to determine how people consume digital content, and the results showed three common scanning pattern: F-Pattern, spotted pattern, and layer-cake pattern. Scanning using the F-pattern is most common when content doesn’t include headings or lists to guide the eye. In this situation, people scan left to right starting at the top of the page. They read more text on the top of the page and on the left side of the page and use that information to determine if the content is useful to them.
Scanning in the spotted pattern happens when the eyes fixate on specific words or phrases throughout the page. Usually, these words visually stand out in a different font, color, or style. Alternately, the words may resemble a word or phrase that the scanner is looking for to accomplish a task or learn something specific.
The layer-cake scanning pattern also focuses on areas where the eyes fixate on the page. Those areas are mostly headings and subheadings in the layer-cake pattern, and very little other text is scanned. This is a scanning pattern people use when they’re trying to determine if the content they’re specifically looking for is on a text-heavy page that includes headings and subheadings.
Depending on who you’re emailing, what your relationship is with them, and what content you’re sending to them, one of the three scanning patterns listed above will likely be used to review your content prior to reading the entire message. With that in mind, use a design layout that makes it easy for people to scan your messages. Use headings, subheadings, lists, and white space to highlight the most important parts of your message and guide the eye.
Personalization is a critical part of email marketing today. If you’re sending generic messages to bulk audiences, ESPs will know it. As a result, more and more of your messages will go to spam or junk folders rather than inboxes. The way to get into inboxes today is to segment your lists into smaller, hyper-targeted groups and send content that is personalized to their wants, needs, problems, and pain points.
In email marketing campaigns, personalization goes far beyond a person’s name in the greeting. Personalization includes the content, images, links, and experiences. Your goal is to segment your list and send the best possible messages and designs to each person on your list.
Of course, you can create different versions of each email campaign you create and replace text, links, images, colors, and so on in each message to match the recipient audience. However, if your email marketing software includes dynamic content features, you can automatically display specific text, images, and so on for each specific target audience. It’s an excellent time-saver and reduces errors in your campaigns. The result is more personalized messages that people actually want to receive and respond to.
Minimalism in email marketing design encompasses fonts, images, colors, and layouts. Remember, your messages must be easy to scan, so don’t clutter them with a lot of different design elements. Instead, use design to complement your message and improve scanning.
It’s also important from a user experience perspective that your messages load quickly on desktops and mobile devices. Minimalistic design helps your messages load faster so recipients actually see them rather than clicking away because they’re impatient.
Email marketing design trends are minimalistic these days for another reason too. ESPs use spam algorithms to review your email campaigns, and they look for specific flags related to design. For example, if your message includes more images than text (based on visual layout), ESPs could send it to spam or junk folders rather than inboxes. Similarly, if the HTML file size of your message is over 100kb – which usually happens when it includes a lot of code, big images, or animated GIFs – the message could be flagged by ESPs as spam.
There are many design-related spam triggers built into ESPs’ algorithms, so to avoid having their messages flagged as spam, many email marketers are following the minimalistic design trend. Of course, if ESPs think you’re a good sender, many of these spam flags won’t affect your deliverability, but the more things you can do to keep ESPs happy, the better for your long-term email deliverability.
Key Takeaways about Email Marketing Design Trends and Cannabis Brands
Email marketing is a great marketing opportunity for cannabis brands, but you need to follow best practices to ensure your messages get to recipients’ inboxes. You also need to send messages that are relevant to recipients and can be scanned quickly.
The keys to do it using design are clarity, personalization, and minimalism. Follow these trends and more people will actually receive your email marketing messages, read them, and respond to them in the ways you want.