How to Design Emails to Reach the Inbox

When you send out an email blast you hope and pray that it reaches your intended recipients. You cross your fingers that it doesn’t get tripped up in spam filters or sent to junk, and let out an emphatic sigh of relief when you know your email made it through the gauntlet. Email deliverability and trust is important to your reputation as an email sender, but what are some best practices to maximize the probability that it reaches the intended inbox and differentiates you from a dreaded spammer?

Take a look are some helpful hints to ensure that your emails are making it into the inbox where they belong, and being accepted as a trusted email by the recipient. And if you want more tips, be sure to download our complete Email Review–Design and Creative Checklist for even more best practices.

Message and Creative

For email marketing deliverability and success, the message and creative composition is a key component to overall campaign performance. Here are some helpful tips you should keep in mind when crafting your message and creating your email:

  • Offer and content match subject line
  • Offer explains What’s In It For Me (WIIFM)
  • Headlines are calls-to-action
  • Content blocks are easily scannable
  • Bullet points are present
  • Images support copy
  • All images are clickable
  • Alt text is on all images
  • Text based calls-to-action
  • Sense of urgency

Preview Pane Elements

When evaluating email marketing deliverability, you need to determine how your readers will view your email. Many readers will glance at the email in the preview pane  before they decide whether they are actually going to open it or not. Pay attention to ensuring the following elements are present in order to get your best messaging across in the preview:

  • Preview pane looks good when the images are turned off and turned on
  • The key 2-3 inches of screen includes compelling text
  • Viewable online link is present
  • Viewable mobile link is present
  • Logo and images have alt text
  • Clear call-to-action above the fold

Email Trust

In order for your emails to be read and opened, you have to build trust. There is so much spam out there infiltrating email in boxes, that you need to pay extra attention to various elements in order to enhance and build trust with your email receivers. Here are some essential features you want to include:

  • Unsubscribe language
  • Company name
  • Company address and phone
  • Company URL
  • Privacy policy URL
  • Copyrights/trademarks
  • Change email preference language
  • Language that indicates “you have received this email because, this email was sent to, add to address book” etc

Common Spam Signatures to Avoid

You don’t want the end up caught in spam. There are numerous ways you can prevent content based spam filtering, so make sure that you avoid the following traps when creating your email.

  • Font size should be between 8-14pts
  • Repetitive use of keywords
  • Flash or rich media
  • Misspelled words
  • Invisible fonts (white on white)
  • Full capitalization of words
  • Light grey and red fonts
  • Missing  <title> tags
  • Phishing URL
  • Java script
  • Attachments
  • Forms
  • Embedded images

Email deliverability and spam laws keep getting more complicated each year, so it is important to know what they are for your industry and region. Remember, that your reputation as an email sender depends on implementing some best practices. For the complete checklist, download our Email Review–Design and Creative Checklist.

Related Resources

  • Sunday

    This is a very helpful article and should be a must read for email marketers. The comment below was shared in – the IM social site where this post was “kingged”:

    You cannot really blame targets who don’t get to open “well crafted” or “well intentioned” email, spammers are all over the place! However, if a marketer should take time and apply the required best practices, then the deliverability chance of the email into the inbox will increase!

    Dayna Rothman’s best practices should be adopted. However, the key is to build trust first and create a message that is easily accessible and not crafted to presell the reader. Invariably, emails that get delivered into inbox faster are those providing valuable contents.
    Sunday – contributor

  • MJ

    I have an idea…

Dayna Rothman is the Sr. Content Marketing Manager at Marketo. She runs the Marketo content initiatives and is the managing editor of the Marketo blog. Dayna has extensive experience in content marketing, social media, marketing automation, and inbound marketing. She has an MBA from Golden Gate University and lives in Oakland, CA.

Read Dayna's Blogs

How to Design Emails to Reach the Inbox

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