The short answer is: hell yes! Let me expand. If you think of your marketing message, regardless of media, as being targeted to a person whom you want to be engaged by that message, then good design can only tilt the field to your advantage. Conversely, poor design can garble a potentially interesting message, leading to confusion, disinterest, and a quick disconnect. And I do mean “quick” – because in today’s tsunami of emails, tweets, texts, and social media interactions, you really have only a few seconds to stake your claim for attention. Here are a few ways good design can help:
- Does your landing page match the design of your email? If not, your corporate identity is clashing with itself. Customers may feel – and rightly so – that they have clicked to the wrong page.
- Is your layout clear or confusing? It’s always tempting for marketers to cram in every last selling point about their product or service, but – as has been true since Shakespeare’s Web 0.0 days – brevity is indeed the soul of wit. Avoid busy backgrounds, a cacophony of fonts (it’s best to stick with one), miniscule fonts (use 10 pt type or larger), long (and reader-intimidating) blocks of copy, or a call-to-action that is anything less than crystal-clear.
- Be careful with your graphics. Especially with regard to emails, this can be a fatal design flaw, because not every e-mail reader (or mobile phone) is set to accept graphics. Unless you’ve used ALT tags in your images, your recipient won’t even know what the graphic was supposed to represent. Use teaser text and HTML colors and layout rather than an image, so readers can get a “quick-scan” sense of your e-mail, even if images are disabled.
- Put it at the top. All important content – your offer, call to action, key “what’s in it for me” benefit, etc. – should be at the top, or as much at the top as possible. Because if you can’t hook your reader with that info, you really haven’t given him or her a good reason to keep reading.
- For websites only. Try captions under images, zoom in and zoom out features, call-outs, video messages and/or demos, slide presentations, and text pointers in images.
- This is only a test. Consider your digital marketing efforts to be a continually evolving work in process. Test and tweak. Test and tweak. And test and tweak again! Direct marketers don’t merely guess what will work, they know what will work because they have hard real-world data. Online marketing, with its cornucopia of metrics and analytical tools, is a smart marketer’s dream come true. You can test subject lines, offers, lists, copy, etc. – and you can test specific design elements such as color, graphics, layouts, font, font size, short vs. long messages, etc.
- Avoid expensive lessons. Working with a designer or (ahem) agency that is already knowledgeable about what works online and what doesn’t can streamline your learning curve. After all, why pay for lessons or tests when you already know the answers . . . or already know someone who does?