How should I design and lay out my HTML e-mail templates for maximum delivery, open and interaction rates?

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Answer: Consider the following tips:
  1. Ensure that the “send from” name is recognizable, displaying either your company name—perhaps including a specific division—or the specific name of the person within your organization that the recipient will recognize.
  2. Use a dedicated domain, as opposed to your day-to-day e-mail domain, in the sending address (for instance, [email protected] rather than [email protected]).
  3. Ensure that the subject line accurately reflects the content of the e-mail and also grabs attention.
  4. Consider an “above-the-fold” design to counter some of the effects of image blocking. Research suggests that 50% to 70% of recipients of b-to-b e-mails have image blocking enabled. (Above-the-fold refers to the area the recipient sees within the preview pane.) Within this area should be key information such as company name, date and section links to content within the e-mail.
  5. If the campaign is light on content, make the call to action prominent at the top of the e-mail. Be sure to include a text link—not only an image—to counter image blocking.
  6. Use images within the e-mail campaign as appropriate, but balance them with text. Ensure that “alt” tags are added to every image. (Alt tags are descriptions of an image that will appear in place of an image if image blocking is enabled.)
  7. If your e-mail campaign is heavy on content, use short introductory paragraphs with “read more” links to full content on your Web site or a campaign-specific microsite. As a rule, the e-mail should be no more than two to three screens deep.
  8. Use a sender reputation authority to ensure that your e-mails will be widely accepted. These companies check authentication, infrastructure and black lists to clear sending IP addresses and domain names for safe passage to recipients.
Anthony Green is president of Concep New York (, a global marketing technology and services provider, and oversees the company’s U.S. operations.
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