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Is page speed important when it comes to email marketing?

Guide
by Iain Thomson Head of Projects

The case for making web pages load as quickly as possible is well known – we’ve written about it a few times ourselves. It increases user engagement, reduces bounce rates, and could even have an effect on your search rankings, too. In summary, it’s a good thing. 

But what about emails? Surely they don’t need to be optimised for speed? After all, the recipient has no choice but to download it as soon as it’s sent to their inbox. Unfortunately, it’s that kind of thinking that has led to large, unwieldy emails being sent out. There are several disadvantages to this:

  • The email still has to download – some email systems download just the header to the device, and download the body of the email when you click it. That means the user will have to wait for a large email to load.
  • Larger files use up more network resources, which means you can slow down your and recipients’ internet, and eat into people’s data usage if emails are bloated.
  • Although there’s generally plenty of space to spare, inboxes, hard drives and servers can get full – and so can your own “sent” boxes. Larger files make that happen sooner.
  • Sending large, resource-heavy emails makes you look unprofessional, as though you’re not on top of the tech you’re using.

All the above refers to the email itself. Attachments are another thing altogether, and there isn’t much you can do about their size. It’s still good etiquette to warn recipients if there’s a large attachment incoming, or upload the files to a file-sharing service like WeTransfer so they can download it with a browser when it’s convenient for them.

Keeping email files as small as possible

The best possible way to avoid the pitfalls listed above is to ensure your HTML templates that make up the email are as small and fast-loading as possible. There are several steps to take to make sure that happens, but the first starts at the design stage. 

UX Implications

Emails can stand out and be effective communication and marketing tools without being image-heavy. Good use of colour, spacing, layout and typefaces can work wonders for the visual impact of an email. You often don’t need any images at all, except perhaps a logo. A few lines of code can fill spaces with colour or leave white space, and HTML with CSS lets you have complete control over the layout. You should not be using 100×600 pixel pure white jpegs to space out your sections.

Keep those images compressed

If images are absolutely necessary, make sure they are optimised, as small as you can get away with (without compromising quality) and, if possible, downloaded separately. That way you’re keeping the body of the HTML and the files as small as possible.

The code should be clean, minified and efficient, with any unnecessary lines stripped away. And finally, it should be tested on the complete range of email clients and web-based email solutions to see how they handle the files. This is all bread and butter work for a specialist HTML email coding agency like Gooey, but it’s amazing how often the rules are disobeyed (we do receive as well as send emails, remember …). When we build your company an email template, you can be sure it’ll perform to the best possible metrics, so your customers will get your message, however they choose to download it.