We just finished the "Save the Date" HTML email, self-mailing postcard, and logo for the New Orleans Botanical Garden's Magic in the Moonlight event for 2020. Some of the elements in the email led me to compile a simple list of do's and don'ts for those of you that use Mailchimp, Constant Contact or some other HTML email editor.
Don't put critical info in an image only
Take a look at the screenshot below and notice we repeated the date in the body text of the email. This was important to make sure that all recipients would be able to see the date quickly and easily. Since this is a "Save the Date" email, it obviously should very clearly display the date. One option we presented to the client had only the Magic in the Moonlight logo in the banner image without the SAVE THE DATE, THURSDAY NOVEMBER 5, 2020 text. But they really loved the way the banner image looked with the text, so we kept it in the image and included it in the body text as well. Why, you may ask? Because some recipients use a web browser to view their email (e.g., Gmail) and some browser based email apps to not show images by default. We also consulted the client on using the event name in the subject, and the date in the pre-header.
Don't crowd the email with extraneous content
The average US business person gets around 120 emails per day. If you want the end user to read the email, keep it short and simple. Use links to allow the user to access more content if needed.
DO brand your emails and keep your style consistent
We want the recipients to know right away that the email is from the botanical garden. We used their main layout and their logo at the top, and only made minor tweaks to the colors in the body of the email.
DO use links to increase engagement
Clicking the big image in the email or the text link will send recipients to the Magic in the Moonlight website where they can get all of the details. Another nice option for this email would have been a button link that would have allowed users to download the event in a calendar friendly .ics file format. Unfortunately that didn't make it into this email, but we'll add it to the main invitation email when all of the event details are finalized.