Readability through scannability.

Our email content and design must lend itself to being as readable and scannable as possible. Don’t make the user hunt for the content. Expose it for them so they can quickly determine what is and isn’t valuable to them.

  • If sections of text start to get too long, break them up or edit them down.
  • Lists lend themselves well to scannability.
  • Use your headings to highlight the most important benefit and value of the email.

If an email is long, it doesn’t mean it’s bad. What it does mean is that readability and scannability need to increase. A good rule of thumb: the longer the email, the easier it needs to be to scan.

Help them go fast.

Although recent studies show that the length of time users are giving to emails in term so of attention is growing, we still don’t want to waste our users time. At best, studies show that users will give you 11 seconds, in reality it’s likely much less than that. The faster we can prove the value of the email and grab our users attention, the more effective the email will be and the more value the user will place on our email communications. So get to the point. Use hierarchy to convey importance, and make sure the key content is early in the email.

Make it high quality

One of the reasons why Treehouse stands out amongst its competitors is our high quality of content. Emails should reflect this high standard by adhering to our brand and email guidelines.

Speak to the audience

As you're making design and copy decisions, keep the reader in mind. Curate the content so it speaks as specifically to the audience as possible. Emails can be directed to a wide audience, or a more specific audience. Specific audience can include: beginner coders, professional coders, admin users (often learning and development professionals), etc. It's also helpful to consider the funnel state they're in: leads, nurture stage, free trial user, active/engaged user, paused user, or cancelled user. Put yourself in the user's shoes and try to imagine what type of email is most likely to speak to them. These stages often carry very different emotional states, and effective emails should be mindful of that.

Prove the value. Now prove it again.

We have 2 opportunities to prove and then convince the end user that our email is worth their time: in the subject line of the email, and in the email content itself.

  • Make sure the subject line doesn’t just tell them what’s in the email, but sells the benefit of opening it.
  • Use teaser and preheader text to do the same thing. Give users a glimpse of the value and benefit they will gain through opening the email itself.
  • Once a user has opened the email. Make sure we live up to whatever value and benefit we promised within the subject. The more we can live up to that, the more success we will see with emails.

Make it consistent

Having a united email communication strategy sets up Treehouse for success. It builds up our brand equity and sets expectations for our users which ultimately provides a comfortable space for learning how to code. We have a few different products and a handful of departments creating emails, so this email style guide is a resource for getting everyone on the same page. From a marketing perspective, we want emails to sound like they're coming from a single voice (the Treehouse voice) that effectively informs our users about our products. From a design perspective, we want emails to be user friendly and have a consistent look and feel across devices and email clients. From an engineering perspective, we want emails to adhere to standards and load quickly.