Tired of Designing Emails? Don’t.

July 1, 2016

9:14 am

“Whenever there is a hard job to be done I assign it to a lazy man; he is sure to find an easy way of doing it.”

This quote isn’t always true. After all, if people even bothered to look up who said it, they’d stop attributing it to Bill Gates. Still, I enjoy being the person to find easy ways to do things. So I’m happy to be the one to tell you that you can immediately stop caring about the formatting of any email newsletter you’ve been working on: It doesn’t matter. Or more accurately, it’s hurting the emails.

Why Email Formats Are Hard

Whether you have an email update for your startup’s mailing list or a weekly email newsletter for your friends and family, formatting’s tough. It needs to work on desktop and mobile, it needs to work across any email client from Gmail to Outlook, and it needs to be tailored to your specific brand.

Why They’re Bad

When everything’s formatted in a cool way, nothing is. People check their inbox for worthwhile information, not a clever design. This isn’t just speculation, either: Consultant Grigoriy Kogan ran a recent A/B test on an email newsletter for 24,000 people. One version had a typical MailChimp one-column format, while the other was totally normal. The results: normal’s better.


Greg has four potential reasons behind the difference: Non-formatted emails are “less likely to be caught in spam filters, less likely to go into the “Promotions” tab in Gmail, don’t look like advertisements, and feel more personal.” Looks like another win for lazy email marketers everywhere.

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Adam is a writer with an interest in a variety of mediums, from podcasts to comic books to video essays to novels to blogging — too many, basically. He's based out of Seattle, and remains a staunch defender of his state's slogan: "sayWA." In his spare time, he recommends articles about science fiction on Twitter, @AdamRRowe

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