Anything that puts a barrier between the reader and the ability to give should be eliminated. This includes the design of your emails and landing pages. There are several elements you should consider when you review the design of your email appeals:

  1. Layout
  2. Photos
  3. Fonts

The layout of your email should have a clear flow from your central proposal to the reader to the call to action. Multiple columns or embedded tables reduce comprehension for the reader and should be eliminated. In our testing, overly designed emails reduce response, in other words, the more graphical elements in your email, the less response you’ll receive. Believe it or not, but often (not always), plain text emails outperform graphical emails.

Mobile layout should also be considered when designing. According to MediaPost, 55% of the population reads email on their phone. If you have a large banner ad that isn’t mobile responsive, it can mess with the layout of the email and make it unreadable on a mobile device. Be sure to test your emails across a variety of devices and email clients.

If you’re using a photo in your appeal, make sure it relates to the appeal and adds emotionally to the decision point to give or not. I’ve seen situations where a photo of a smiling person in a full garden has suppressed giving as the reader thinks “they don’t need my help,” so selecting the right photo can make a big difference in whether or not someone donates.

You may consider eliminating the photo entirely in an A/B test. We’ve seen success with fewer images in emails (or none in our case).

The right font can make a difference in your email appeal and landing page. Both font size and font selection is crucial, if you have an older audience, selecting the right font size will impact the readability of your email. Use common web standards such as blue and underlined for links. Changing the way people expect something works leads to confusion and confusion leads to people deleting your email. Choose standard web fonts such as Arial or Verdana for your email to maximize readability.

Remember: if your recipients can’t read an email, they won’t give.