If you studied marketing, you’re probably familiar with the 4 P’s that make up the marketing mix (Product, Place, Promotion, Price). I’ve even heard some are teaching the 4 P’s for digital marketing (Presentation, Presence, Personalization, Premise). These elements are the mix, recipe or formula that lead to successful marketing. Lately I’ve been wracking my brain to figure out which one of the 4 P’s typeface and fonts fall into. Okay, so it’s not quite as agonizing as I made it seem, but typeface and font are more important than you think and shouldn’t be dismissed. 

For marketers, fonts can be a recognizable asset for your company. Fonts can also position your brand or provide status. I attended a conference last summer where a speaker shared some research about how lettering changed people’s perception of products. A focus group was provided the same can of soup, but with different labels. One of the label was printed with an elegant font and another with a basic design, both had the exact same soup inside. After tasting out of each can, consumers indicated a preference for the soup dished out of the can with the elegant font.

So fonts matter. I could say more about the presentation or their research, but hopefully I’ve shared enough for you to get my point. Marketers care about aesthetics... And you should too! But just like the traditional 4 Ps have adapted to include the digital marketing mix, your fonts need to adapt as well.


Web Fonts vs. Web Safe Fonts

To put it simple, in the early days of the internet, fonts and styles were controlled by the settings of each web browser. And like most things from that era, the font designs were really ugly! That’s probably because they were chosen by a software engineer, rather than a designer, but I don’t know that for sure. It’s just my assumption, because most designers and marketers cringed at what was being used essentially creating two categories of typeface:

Web Safe Fonts
These are default fonts that are found across different computers, devices and operating systems. Since they exist on nearly any device, these are typically the default options in your email platform – Arial, Courier, Georgia, Times New Roman and Verdana are considered web safe fonts.

Web Fonts
These are fonts that are licensed for use on websites. They allow for more creativity from marketers, but are not typically found across multiple operating systems and devices.   


Email Marketing and Fonts

Knowing the right font can convey emotions, represent your brand, or simply look better than the limited web safe options – most marketers prefer web fonts because they have more visual appeal than the web safe options. Just remember that not all email clients will support your choice of web font, so when your email using Proxima Nova lettering is delivered in Calibri font, here’s why… 

Again, web fonts are not universally accepted by email clients. When this happens, your beautifully designed emails are displayed in a fallback font that is familiar to your email provider. These are generally generic sans serif fonts like Aerial (Gmail), Calibri (Outlook), Helvetica (iMail). So, if you’re like most marketers and want to have control over your font here’s a few things to consider.


Embed Web Fonts in Email

Campaign Monitor explains this better than I do and has a ton of resources to help those who are into coding. Rather than rewriting what they’ve already done a really good job of creating, I’ll just refer you to this great resource!


Know Your Fonts

A ton of fonts exist and if you’re choosing extremely rare lettering as your brand font, it’s highly likely that your digital marketing communications will end up being swapped for the fallback font nearly every time. Before you choose your next font, research to see what is commonly accepted by email providers. Typewolf seems to know their stuff when it comes to web safe fonts, so check out their recommendations.


Always Test

Simply stated, you don’t know what you don’t know. Change that by testing all of your communications in advance. Yes, most marketers already test, but this goes beyond the standard spellcheck and into formatting, design and fonts. In the digital marketing era, you need to pay attention to those elements as well.  

Typeface and font are an important element of marketing. When used correctly, they have brand identity and influence. But not just any font will do in the age of digital marketing, it’s important to understand how email and other digital platforms will respond to your choice of lettering and its impact on your audience. So be smart with your fonts, and if you’re looking to brush up in other areas of digital marketing – here’s a nice eBook to get you started.