Welcome to the first of my upcoming series in which I’ll be analysing various emails I receive. Seeing what they’re doing well, what they’re doing poorly, and what I would change.
This email analysis will primarily be from a design and code basis, rather than on a strategic level.
We’re going to kick off the series by analysing this email I received from Virgin Trains.
To see the full email, click here.
My first impressions of this email were very positive; I enjoy the colour scheme with the contrast between the reds and whites, the modular email design does a great job at splitting up the content in a readable fashion, and I was very glad to see it also renders well on mobile devices.
Layer by Layer
Now lets break the email down section-by-section.
The header section follows a very regular pattern featuring a logo in the top left and a View in browser link in the top right. It also has a call for the subscriber to add the email adress the email was sent from to their address book, and a bit of a subheader too. It’s a fairly standard section as I mentioned, but it looks good and renders well on mobile devices:
In the introduction section, as I’m calling it, they have used different shades of red to bring the content out and making it clear it’s an introduction. It’s a nice looking section that just features a few sentences to let you know what you’ll get by reading into the email. Once again, it responds nicely on mobile:
Hop to it
The first proper content block of this email, although they all follow similar design styles. It features a large hero image. Although this hero image doesn’t feature anything about trains or destinations, it does feature a typical spring image of lambs which is good choice seeing as the offer is a spring time offer. It then has a clear header which lays out exactly what the offer is. The next bit is a two column split between text describing the offer and a call-to-action.
The CTA ticks all the boxes for me; it’s clear it’s a CTA by the use of colours and the arrow image, it features an action in the words BOOK NOW, and it is created as a HTML element rather than an image. Here’s how it looks with images disabled:
In common with the previous sections, it looks good on mobile devices with everything scaling in and the CTA falling below the text:
Reasons to book online
The next content section follows exactly the same design as the section above, using a fairly ambiguous image followed by a header that describes the offer. Then a two column section with an actioned CTA (Book a ticket) and a bit of extra text describing the offer. Here is how it responds for smaller devices:
This section follows the same design pattern as the two sections above, but this time uses a specific image describing the offer with the header there to add colour. The CTA also features less of an action and more of a description in the words (£50 Virgin Vino Voucher). As all of the previous sections, it works well on smaller screen sizes:
In udder news
This section, like those above, follows the same design pattern, looks great on mobile devices and continues with the informal and humerous theme:
This section is a little different to the rest rough the use of a grey background and a two column layout. In the left-hand column we have the travel route of the offer. In the right we have the price and the Book Now CTA. This section works very well, in my opinion, because it really breaks away from the rest of the email. It responds nicely too, with the price and CTA falling below the route:
Again, this section uses a different shade of red to bring it out from the rest of the content. It’s a fairly simple section; two social media buttons and a call to action to follow on the platforms and stacking the content nicely with the icons falling below the text when viewed on smaller screens:
How it renders across email clients
Now for the big test for all emails; how it renders across different email clients.
If you would like to see how it renders across all different email clients, you can do so here.
The only two things I picked up on were that in Outlook 2002 and 2003, the content in the main sections sits to the left and has some incorrect spacing;
This is because they’ve coded it in a way they have tables centered inside tables, they just need to force that spacing rather relying on aligns to center the content.
The other thing is that in web clients on Firefox, one of the buttons needs a bit more width to fit all the content in:
Both of these changes are fairly simple.
From a code point of view
Taking a look under the hood, they’ve been thorough with the code. As we have mentioned above, it is mobile responsive so it gets a lot of points in that department.
The only thing I found strange was that for each of the content sections, rather than resizing the images to the width they want them using media queries they replace the images altogether. Resizing them is fairly simple and doing it this way, with multiple images for each section, forces the user to load in two sets of images. Not a major issue but it may slow down loading speeds on slower connections.
They’ve covered all their bases with stuff such as border=”0″ and alt tags. Nice job Virgin!
Overall this is a very cleanly coded email, it renders well across all the major email clients and looks great on all of them. The email itself has a nice, light tone of voice and uses good quality imagery to convey it’s point.
This was a nice email to kick off this series, I very much enjoyed breaking it down.
If you have any opinions about this email, be sure to drop a comment into the comment section below!