How to Design an Act-On Email for Deliverability

  • Updated

Marketers should design their emails with Deliverability in mind. There are a few things that you should consider when creating an email for deliverability in Act-On. 

Subject Line Tips

  • Create an engaging subject line that invites your contact to read your email.
  • Keep your Subject Line and Preview Text under 65 characters to ensure that they fit no matter what browser, email client, or device is used.
  • Do not use all caps, as this may send you to the spam folder.
  • Be conservative with punctuation. Do not use multiple exclamation marks.
  • Don't use Emojis, they aren’t supported in most email clients. Your contact may see a ☐ character instead.

Design for Mobile

Most contacts open their emails on a mobile device followed by webmail, and desktop respectively. See Opens by Environment (Litmus) for more information.

  • Turn on Responsive Design: In the Act-On Message Composer on the Design Tab, select StationeryMake sure Responsive Design is set to On
  • Set your message width to 600px (recommended) to render properly in most settings.

For even more tips on how to design your email for different screen sizes using Act-On, see Create a Mobile Responsive Email Design and Create Responsive, Adaptive, and Mobile-friendly Designs.

Use Alt Text for Images

When adding an image, always include alt text. When an email client doesn't automatically download images, alt text shows the message across to the email recipient and improves deliverability. This is also important for your recipients who have images blocked, turned off by default, render images slowly, or are visually impaired. Alt text is also used by web crawlers and bots for indexing.

Alt text for each section should provide context for what the reader is missing when there is no image. They can be short phrases or words, and typically not longer than 1 or 2 sentences.

To add an image with alt text:

  1. Drag and drop the image block in the message composer to your desired location
  2. Click Add Image to select from your Image Library
  3. Enter your desired Alt Text
  4. Click OK


Make sure that your images and fonts are visible on all platforms and load correctly:

  • The minimum legible font size for most mobile inboxes is 13px.
  • Keep images for viewing quality, but optimize for load time with a resolution of 72 dpi.

Email Links

When adding links to your emails, keep these things in mind.

  • Always use secure URLs. Look for the ‘s’ in HTTPS to make sure that your outbound links are secure.
  • Do not use URL shorteners. This may cause you to go to the spam filter.
  • Always validate your clickthrough links in the message composer to make sure the links pass and go where you are expecting.
  • Additionally, send a test and click every link in the test email to make sure that they go to the correct destination URLs.

Tips for creating HTML Messages

If you are creating HTML and uploading that to Act-On, focus on three things:

  • Keep it simple. The more complex your email design, the more likely is it to fail on one of the popular clients with poor standards support.
  • Take your coding skills back to 1998. That often means nesting tables and bringing CSS inline.
  • Many email clients ignore background colors specified in your CSS or the <body> tag. To work around this, wrap your entire email with a 100% width table and give that a background color.

Don't Fear the Opt-Out link

The opt-out link is your friend. Providing a clear and simple way to opt-out or manage one’s contact preferences allows users who are no longer interested to leave without marking you as spam. 

If someone doesn't want your email and they cannot find an unsubscribe link, they may mark you as spam. Make sure it is easy to find!

Test Your Designs

  • Test your email designs regularly. Just because a template looks nice in Hotmail today, doesn’t mean it will next week.
  • Use our integration with Litmus to see how your messages will render across different devices and email clients.


Still need help?

You can also review our Best Practices for Email Design, and if you need additional help with your email deliverability, our Deliverability Services team can help! Reach out to your Account Manager for more information.

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