Designing Inbox Optimized Email Templates: The Do's and Don'ts

Level 10 - Community Advisor Level 10 - Community Advisor
Level 10 - Community Advisor

In today's digital era, email remains a significant channel for communication and marketing. However, the success of an email campaign depends not only on the quality of content but also on whether the email reaches the intended recipients' inboxes. 


To ensure your email stands out and comes to the notice of recipients, your email design should be on point. Therefore, it's essential to follow best practices when creating email templates to ensure optimal delivery rates. 


In this quick read, I’ll walk you through the do's and don'ts of designing an email template to maximize the chances of email delivery in the inbox.


Common Mistakes to Avoid While Designing  Email Templates


Without a doubt, the right email template can benefit your marketing campaign. Here are the 8 common pitfalls to avoid:

  • Don't Use Excessive Images or Large File Sizes: Heavy emails with excessive images or large attachments may trigger spam filters or lead to slower load times. Optimize your images and keep the email size reasonable. 
  • Avoid Excessive Formatting or Coding Errors: Use clean HTML coding and avoid excessive use of formatting, or Flash elements. Poorly formatted emails can trigger spam filters or render incorrectly across different email clients. 
  • Don't Overlook Mobile Optimization: With the majority of emails being opened on mobile devices, make sure that your email template is mobile-optimized. Failing to optimize your email template for mobile devices can lead to a poor user experience. Therefore, it is key to test your emails across various mobile platforms and ensure that they are easily readable and interactive on smaller screens.
  • Excessive Links or URL Shorteners: Including an excessive number of links or using URL shorteners in your email can raise red flags for spam filters. Ensure that your links are relevant, authentic, and lead to reputable destinations. Shorten URLs sparingly and avoid using suspicious or unknown URL shortening services.
  • Don't Overcomplicate the Design: Avoid overly complex or cluttered email designs that may confuse or overwhelm recipients. Keep the layout clean and focused, ensuring that your message is clear and easy to read. 
  • Don't Neglect Email Previews: Email previews or preheaders are short snippets of text that appear in email clients before the email is opened. Don't leave them blank or use generic placeholder text. 
  • Don't Forget to Test Across Email Clients: Different email clients and devices can render emails differently. Don't assume that your email will look the same across all platforms. Test your email templates across various email clients, browsers, and devices to ensure consistent rendering and functionality.
  • Don't Neglect Email Deliverability Best Practices: Ensure that your email templates adhere to email deliverability best practices. Avoid using spam trigger words, excessive punctuation, or misleading content that might trigger spam filters. 

Best Practices for Creating Inbox Optimized Email Templates


Now that I’ve established what common mistakes can fail your email templates from optimal delivery rates, here are the best practices that you can follow to make your email templates inbox optimized:

  • Use a Responsive Design: Opt for a responsive email template that adapts to different screen sizes and devices. This ensures that your emails are easily readable and visually appealing across desktops, laptops, tablets, and mobile devices.
  • Maintain a Clear and Concise Layout: Keep your email template clean and uncluttered. Use a clear hierarchy with headings, subheadings, and appropriate spacing to enhance readability. Include a prominent call-to-action (CTA) that stands out and guides recipients toward the desired action.
  • Personalize and Segment: Leverage personalization tokens and dynamic content to tailor emails to the recipient's preferences and interests. Segment your email list based on relevant criteria, such as demographics, purchase history, or engagement levels, and deliver targeted messages to improve engagement rates.
  • Optimize Load Times: Large email file sizes can lead to slow loading times and potentially impact deliverability. Optimize images and other media files, use web-safe fonts, and limit unnecessary code to ensure faster loading and a better user experience.
  • Include a Visible Unsubscribe Option: Provide an easy and visible way for recipients to unsubscribe from your emails. This helps build trust and ensures compliance with email regulations.
  • Include a Text Version: While designing visually appealing HTML emails, don't forget to include a plain text version as well. Some email clients and spam filters may prefer or require a text-only version. Providing both versions improves accessibility and ensures your message reaches a wider audience.
  • Multiple Email Clients Support: Email should be designed in such a way so that it would render fine in all the email clients like Outlook Win 10 Microsoft devices, Gmail, and Yahoo including mobile devices.
  • Maintain the Width of Your Email within 640 Pixels: It is important to maintain the width of your emails within 640 pixels to ensure that your emails can be viewed clearly in each and every email client.
  • Use Tables When Possible: Instead of relying on divs and floats, you can use tables to get a consistent layout and align attribute, which was the predecessor of modern CSS floats.

Wrapping Up

Creating an email template that ensures email delivery in the inbox requires adherence to best practices and a keen focus on UX and relevance. By following the do's and don'ts outlined in this blog post, you can increase the chances of your emails reaching the intended recipients and improve overall engagement and conversion rates. Remember to constantly monitor your email performance, adapt to changing trends, and stay informed about email deliverability best practices to maintain a successful email marketing strategy.


By implementing these guidelines, you can enhance your email deliverability, maintain a positive sender reputation, and drive better results from your email marketing efforts.