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How to create a style guide for your email marketing

Category: Email Marketing

Imagen How to create a style guide for your email marke

Where do you check which corporate colours you have to choose for your email marketing campaigns? Do you know what kind of images or emojis are suitable for your newsletter? All the answers are located in the same document: a style guide. It is where you will find the necessary references so that all brand communications are coherent, including those sent by email.

A style guide includes not only where the logo should go or design ideas but also copywriting considerations, such as how to address customers (in a formal or informal way?). Each company creates its own style guide with general recommendations that work either for websites, landing pages or even social media, for example: what kind of illustrations are preferred; how to write numbers and abbreviations; or which acronyms are accepted.

Although the starting point is common and must be respected in order to be consistent with the brand, special features of each channel must be taken into account and small adaptations should be made. That is why more concrete specifications are included, such as the applications of the style guide for email marketing that we are going to review.
 

Visual style

Let's start with the design of the template:

  • Logo: how is it included in the header? Is it customised for email campaigns? Will it be changed to create seasonal versions? 
  • Colours: How are they applied to highlight headlines and buttons? What will be the colour of the text, pre-header and footer? Is there a specific one for the background of any design element? 
  • Font: which is used to differentiate headlines and body copy? Is there an alternative? 
  • Image and text balance: which percentage is recommended for each type of mailing? Are there any occasions when only text or only images are sent? 
  • Images: when to use your own product or service photos, stock photos or illustrations? Do you have to round the edges or frame them? Do they have a watermark? What size should they have for the different campaigns? Which is the recommended extension? In which folders of the email marketing platform should they be uploaded? 
  • Animations: when is the use of GIFs acceptable? Which ones should be avoided? Is there a maximum number of animations per campaign? 
  • Buttons: are the borders rounded? Are they full width? Do we have a minimum/maximum number of buttons per campaign? 
  • Accessibility: which images should not include the ALT attribute? How should the rest be worded? 
  • Versions: in which situations should the text or online version be modified? 

The template editor of your email marketing tool will help you to create several templates so that they always arrive in the inbox with a style aligned with your brand. For example, with Acrelia you can set blocks or also reuse templates. 
 

Textual style

When it comes to writing the campaigns, you need to consider questions such as:

  • Subject line: what tag is used to personalise? Are emojis used? What are the preferred formulas? How many characters are recommended? 
  • Pre-header: How is it used in relation to the subject line? What is the maximum number of characters we should use? 
  • Sender: What is the standard name and address? When can it be changed and by whom? 
  • Spam: what words should be avoided both in the subject and the body of the message? 
  • Greetings: What welcome/dismissal should be used to address customers or subscribers? Will it be different depending on the type of mailing? 
  • Structure: Will a table of contents or index be inserted at the beginning? How many columns are allowed at most? 
  • Calls to action: what is the recommended formula? When should more than one call to action be used? 
  • Capital letters / Italics: are they appropriate in any case? 
  • Personalisation: which tags should be applied to each type of mailing? Which ones should not be used? 
  • Content Blocks: which ones should be usually used? Which ones should be used in specific situations? Which ones we should not use too much? 

In general, the style guide also covers the tone of communication, e.g. more or less informal, or humorous on certain occasions.  
 

References to the strategy

The style guide document is not the place where email marketing strategies are set, but it can still include some general indications to reinforce concepts such as: 

  • Language: in which languages will the mailings be sent? How will translations be handled? 
  • Frequency: what is the maximum number of impacts a contact can receive? 
  • Segmentation: to whom is each type of campaign sent? Are potential customers differentiated from the rest? 
  • Header: how often will it be changed? 
  • Footer: Which is the standard legal text? What other approved versions are there? 
  • Forwarding: What changes will be made to campaigns of this type? 

This is a good time to keep in mind that every style guide is different, although ideas from other companies may be used, either because they stand out visually or because of their copywriting. In any case, the aim should be to test and incorporate these proposals into the strategy.

Other sections of the style guide

We have asked you many questions and only you have the answers. Write your guide answering them and include examples so that there is no doubt, both of good practices (general and specific for each element we have seen) and of mistakes to avoid. This way you will always send messages that respect both the brand image and strategy. 

Finally, a section that should include the style guide is a contact person to consult in case of doubt. It is usually someone who knows well the advantages of email marketing and web designers, so it can be a bridge between the two worlds to avoid risks and do not send something incorrectly.

Having a style guide is very practical for a consistent digital marketing strategy over time. It's a long-term commitment that can be built at a stroke when you build your brand or as you go along as you need it. If your company doesn't have one style guide yet, you can start by reviewing your latest mailings and jotting down what they have in common to build it little by little.


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