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Laying out your content in an email usually requires building tables in HTML and using Cascading Style Sheets or CSS to tell your recipient's computer how to display your content. If you're not interested in programming your own layouts, you can use pre-designed email templates that are ready to receive your text, images, links, and other content. Email templates are available from email marketing providers. Many providers include templates that are ready to use as is, as well as templates that can be highly customized without any knowledge of HTML.
Content that draws the eye to a specific section of your email are called visual anchors, because the content acts like an anchor that causes the eyes to stop on that content while scanning through the email. Visual anchors include the following types of content: images, headlines, links, icons, divider lines, background colors, and borders. When laying out your content, the most important content should reside in the upper-left quadrant of your email, because most people start scanning an email in the upper-left.
Also, most mobile devices display emails beginning with the upper-left, if the whole email doesn't fit on screen. One word of caution. It's important not to place too many visual anchors in all four quadrants. Doing so makes your email difficult to scan, because the eyes can't decide what is the most important section of the email. Organizing your content into columns is another great way to make your email easy to scan. And columns make it easy to organize related groups of content so your audience can scan each column as if it's a mini version of your email.
There are three basic choices for laying out columns effectively in your email. You can use columns of equal width to avoid emphasizing the content in one column over the other. You can put a narrow column on the left side of your email to emphasize the content and a larger column to the right. You can also put a narrow column on the right side of your email to emphasize the content in a larger column to the left. If you feel like you have so much content in a single email that you need to organize your content into more than two columns, you may want to consider breaking up your content into multiple shorter emails and sending with a higher frequency.
That way your emails won't be so daunting when your subscribers receive them. Speaking of email content, the next few sections of the course show you how to make your content valuable and effective by including links, information, offers, and a call to action.
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