Why Beautiful Email Templates Hurt Your Business

Email Marketing

This article was originally posted at NathanBarry.com.

A core feature of nearly every email provider is the ability to design great email templates. Companies like Campaign Monitor even make this a core part of their messaging with their tagline “Create stunning emails.”

I believe that these email templates are not only a waste of time, but also harmful to your business. That’s why ConvertKit purposefully does not include fancy email templates.

You might be surprised to hear this from me, since I am a designer by trade. I spend my time crafting elegant designs that I hope viewers will love. These designs can help build trust, show credibility, and create a better experience. I think they are incredibly valuable, but they shouldn’t be used in email.

Why you shouldn’t use fancy email templates

Let’s take a step back and look at marketing in general.

You lose focus on your content

The best way to market online is to teach. Regularly delivering valuable content to your audience helps build a line of trust between you and your reader and eventually leads to them wanting to purchase products from you.

So when you send an email, what part of the communication delivers the most value?

That’s right – content. That’s why we should be stripping away everything else that isn’t necessary in order to focus on the content.

Multi-column layouts, background images, logos, and all the other nonsense that typically fills marketing emails doesn’t deliver value to the recipient. It’s really all about you, the sender.

Your deliverability gets hurt

Simple, plain text emails are more likely to be delivered into a primary inbox. Google often sees complex HTML emails, like the ones you get from retailers, and filters them into the promotional tab. By skipping the overly designed email templates that are full of images and video, you'll not only avoid falling in the wrong tab, you ‘ll also have faster load times and a better reader experience.

How to deliver value in your emails

It’s time to flip this all around and start delivering value. Here are a few tips to create email content that will actually be read.

Emulate the emails you want to read

Go look through the emails you’ve received recently that you actually wanted to read. They probably came from individuals. Not big brands or companies, but someone you have a connection with. Those emails certainly didn’t have a fancy template or design. They were just plain text, that got straight to the point.

Emulate those emails. Stop emulating the emails that never get opened or get sent straight to the trash.

Overly designed email templates

Why are you trying to copy emails that no one wants to read?

Focus on the content

So maybe I’ve convinced you that email templates don’t add any value, but how are they harmful?

It comes down to focus.

Everyone who is handed a what-you-see-is-what-you-get editor and told to design or customize an email template jumps right in and starts customizing everything. Let’s ignore that usually, since most of these people aren’t designers, the results end up pretty bad.

The true problem is that when crafting an email, 95% of the time is spent getting the design just right and only 5% is spent on the subject and content.

And again, where does the value come from?

Yep – from the content. Amateur marketers everywhere are using customizable email templates as an excuse to ignore writing the actual email (which is arguably the hardest part). By taking away the distractions of a fancy email templates, you are forced to focus on delivering real value to your customers.

If your email sucks it is because you wrote it poorly or had nothing to say.

Plain email templates

This image above is what one of my typical emails looks like. Note that it isn’t pure plain text (the link and other basic formatting), but it doesn’t have any fancy design either.

You don’t have to use plain text

Now, I’m not advocating for you to only and always  use plain text emails. Clickable links, basic formatting (bold, italics, etc), open tracking, and click tracking are all really important too.

What I’m urging you to do is to take your existing email templates and strip out all the other design elements.

If your email looks like it could have been sent to a friend using Gmail, you are doing something right.

So how do create emails that look simple, but are still dynamic?

ConvertKit email templates

I get it. Sometimes you want to create a more unique email template for your brand. That’s why we made it possible for you to create rich text email templates without writing any code.

In our email templates, you can:

  • Change margin spacing
  • Add color
  • Round corners
  • Add and edit images
  • Change font style, size, line height
  • Add and edit buttons
  • Change footer location
  • And more

ConvertKit email template editor

Are you ready to stop relying on overly designed emails to make the sale?

Your content is strong and it's time to put it in the spotlight. With ConvertKit email templates, you can create emails that look personal and still have personality without dealing with code or the fear of falling in the wrong tabs. And you can try it for free with our 14-day trial.

Create emails that deliver today

Nathan Barry

In previous careers Nathan has been a designer, author, and blogger. After learning the power of email marketing he gave up a successful blogging career to build ConvertKit. Outside of work Nathan spends his time playing soccer, woodworking, and chasing after his two little boys.

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