If you’re doing any email marketing at all, know this: your layout is just as important as your subject line and content. It’s certainly tempting to use a lot of good, eye-popping graphics in your layouts. However, there is such a thing as having too many graphics.

Think about the amount of time each customer spends reading an email – recent studies show that customers tend to skim each email and spend an average of seven seconds on each oneThis is a variation on the first point, but here’s where things separate. Unlike graphics, email service providers will often block images altogether, leaving the recipient with the option of pressing a button so they can actually see them in the message. Use links to improve your email marketing reputation. Links are good because when you have an opt-in list and your customer clicks on them, it shows email service providers that your recipients are interested in what you have to say and that you’re not sending out spam. Create email accounts with major service providers like Gmail, Yahoo!, MSN and AOL. Most emails need some sort of copy in their layout, but remember that in this age of short-attention-span Web browsing, less is certainly more. Avoid long paragraphs and long-winded explanations. If your subject line can get customers to open your email, don’t squander the opportunity.

Good marketing emails are those based on permission. Essentially, permission means that the recipient of that email has explicitly asked for those emails, or explicitly consented to receive them. Permission is the big criterion when it comes to defining perfect legitimacy. But it’s not the only one. A related criterion is the idea of matching expectations. When someone asks to get your marketing emails, they have expectations of what they’re going to get. Many people collect email addresses with the intention of starting up an email newsletter. The longer the delay between signing up an email address and sending out the email, the more likely the recipient is to forget they signed up in the first place. And the more likely she or he is to have changed interests and needs. Recipients perceive spam not just as emails they never wanted but also as emails they don’t need.

That’s why it’s important to ensure you match the right email content to the right recipient through some consideration of targeting.