How to Create an HTML Email Template for Outlook

|by Demi-Leigh Donohoe

There are two types of email design you can use for your email marketing campaigns: plain-text emails and HTML emails

Plain-text emails are pretty self-explanatory – they only contain text with no fancy formatting, meaning they’re compatible with nearly all email clients and devices.

HTML emails, on the other hand, are formatted and designed using HTML, meaning you can display a variety of different images, fonts, colours, and backgrounds – just like a web page. They’re easy to spot – most of the marketing emails in your inbox will be HTML emails.  

Depending on the situation, both types of email can work well as part of your email marketing strategy, but more often than not, HTML email templates deliver superior results. 

What is an HTML email template? 

HTML is the code that defines the structure and content in an email marketing campaign. It lets you add different elements to your email, such as images and hyperlinks.  

An HTML email design means you can create enticing email templates with loads of visual appeal and interactive elements. You have the creative freedom to get your message across more effectively and stand out in a cluttered inbox. 

However, any developer knows that creating HTML email templates from scratch can be extremely challenging and tedious, not to mention there are now about a million different ways that email can render on desktop on mobile. 

How to create an HTML email template for Outlook 

If you aren’t an HTML expert (or even if you are) - there’s good news.  

Nowadays, most HTML email templates are designed in a drag-and-drop email builder, so you can easily design great-looking emails without having to manually write loads of complex code. 

Most tools that create and send emails, like Wired Plus, will offer ready-to-go HTML email templates that let you create and customise email marketing campaigns in minutes, so you can ensure your email campaigns will grab your subscriber’s attention.  

Using an HTML email builder makes sending out regular emails to your customers easy and quick. You can build fully-branded emails that are responsive on all devices, without writing a single line of code.  

What’s the difference between email coding and using a drag-and-drop editor? 

Email coding is a very technical process for creating responsive email templates. It usually requires a tech-savvy developer with an in-depth knowledge of HTML and CSS, while drag-and-drop email builders let you create HTML email template designs for Outlook and other email clients, with the ease of a visual email editor.

The email builder will create the HTML code for you automatically, meaning creating show-stopping emails is completely hassle-free. Designing and customising every element of your email marketing campaign has never been so simple, no matter how much (or how little) coding knowledge you have. 

HTML email design best practices 

Want to create effective HTML email templates that improve subscriber engagement and convert like crazy? Follow these best practices for maximum success: 

Stick to a simple layout 

Keep the design of your HTML email simple. Your email template should guide the viewer to what they should check out first, and where they need to go next. They should be able to scan-read the email content quickly with a concise header, followed by a short description and a call-to-action at the bottom.  

Lots of successful email campaigns follow the f-shaped structure in order to engage the reader from the onset and encourage click-throughs. 

Choose fonts that are clear and easy-to-read 

Using the right font and font size makes your emails easy on the eyes. 

Like anything else with HTML email, there are some limitations.  

Although web fonts are generally more creative and fun, it’s important to keep in mind that not all email clients will support web fonts, and each email client has a default font which it displays instead, so it’s best practice to use web-safe fonts. You will have a selection to choose from in your email builder.

Additionally, make sure your font size isn’t so small that your readers have to strain their eyes to read tiny text. As a minimum, use 13 pixels for the body text, and 20 for the titles. This will ensure your email is readable on any small screen. 

Display a noticeable call-to-action button 

CTAs are the heart of email marketing campaigns. They tell readers what to do next, and when done right, they encourage your readers to take the desired actions.

Your buttons need to be large enough so your subscribers can easily click on them, no matter what device they’re using. 

It’s most effective call-to-action buttons are located above the fold. Whether readers are viewing your email marketing campaign on a desktop or mobile device, placing the CTA above the fold is the best way to ensure that it will receive more clicks. 

By using a clear, easy-to-read font on a coloured button, the CTA stands out throughout the email in a way that’s likely to improve engagement rates. 

Test how it renders in different email clients and spam filters 

The rendering of an individual email campaign changes depending on the email client, the device, the browser, and the spam filter.

Before sending your campaign, you should check things such as whether or not any links in your email are broken, or how likely the email is to land in a recipient’s spam folder.  

A powerful marketing automation platform should give you the ability to preview your emails in different email clients and devices in minutes. Check and test every email you send to ensure a great brand experience and watch your engagement rates soar. 

Include a plain-text version of your email 

Although they’re not quite as pretty as HTML email templates, sending plain-text emails alongside your HTML email is still super important, in case the recipient’s device or email client has trouble displaying the HTML version. 

Many marketing automation platforms make it incredibly easy to generate a plain-text version of your HTML email template inside the email builder.

Drag and drop your way to an awesome HTML email template 

Marketing automation platforms like Wired Plus make it easy to enrich your subscribers’ experiences with great-looking emails that convert. Choose from a library of pre-built HTML email templates, or build your email campaigns from scratch, then measure your results with real-time reports.

Book a demo to see it in action.

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