The other day I received another one of those “company email newsletters” which try to mimic multiple-column print layouts. Where do I start? Tiny, hard to read text on a PC screen; impossible to read on a mobile. Microscopically small photos. They say you get an impression of something in 0.7 seconds, but when confronted with something which looks like it’s going to be monumentally hard work, I doubt it takes most readers that long to be clicking the “next email” button. What’s worse, I’d be prepared to bet that on at least one email-reading program (perhaps an important one like GMail or Outlook), the whole design just collapses into a mess, so the recipients can’t read it.
Email is not an alternative way of delivering your print content, unchanged. It never was, but at least most companies realised that, many years ago. Emails need to be simple and to the point. They need to grab your attention, not require intense concentration. Above all, never forget that you’re trying to sell people something. Don’t make it difficult. If you use a commercial email service, they will offer you no end of templates, some of them extremely complex. This is not because the ones with all sorts of columns and other stuff are any good. It’s because customers who don’t know any better asked for them, and the email service designed them as they were asked. That is all.