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10 Email Newsletter Design Best Practices You Should Consider

Last updated
March 18, 2021
Read time
9 min

There are about 4 billion email users globally, and this number grows by 3% each year. Those users include your target audience and people from your customer segment. So, not putting these pure statistics into your business thinking is simply unacceptable. Numbers like this can be great compasses that direct marketers where to start and bring in more people ready to spend money on your products.

Although we have already made a short reference to Email Marketing in one of our previous articles, we believe this topic deserves a separate post. Considering that 73% of marketers rated the ROI of email marketing as either good or excellent, we believe that you should definitely consider the latter as one of your primary digital marketing strategies. However, the key point here to remember is that sending dry texts won’t add any value to your brand. Therefore, as in your website’s case, an on point design should be your number one priority in your email marketing campaigns, too. Sending stand-out and attention-grabbing emails is the only way to keep your customer segment engaged and leave a positive impression.

Thus, in this article, we will discuss why you should pay more attention to your email design and look through 10 brilliant design elements peppered with different examples, just to inspire you!

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Table of Contents

What Is Email Marketing

Email marketing is the practice of using email to promote the products and services offered by your company. The application of this digital marketing strategy allows you to inform those who are included in your email lists about the availability of new products, sales, and other special offers. Moreover, besides being an informative technique that periodically reminds your customer segment about your brand, well-organized email marketing campaigns help build strong customer-brand relationships and generate more leads for your website.

Furthermore, email marketing is considered to be one of the best-performing digital marketing strategies. Despite the emergence of different technologies with their respective opportunities, marketers keep going back to email marketing. The reason behind this is quite obvious: each dollar spent on email marketing generates 38 dollars in ROI, which is the highest ROI so far for the last ten years in a row.

Why is Email Design Important

However, keep in mind that bombarding your recipients with unattractive and dull emails won’t help you increase your customer segment. Moreover, most of them will probably unsubscribe and doubt your professionalism. This definitely is the last thing you need for your business. For this exact reason using well-designed newsletter templates is extremely important.

Remember that you are not writing an email to your professor asking to review your grade. You are trying to SELL your products. So, make sure that it’s convincing. Try to strategically incorporate several email design elements which are close to your recipients’ preferences as much as possible. Your email design should be aesthetically pleasing and match the concept of your brand. For instance, if you are selling stainless steel cookware sets, then the use of intense pink would not really suit your brand.

Email Design Best Practices

Now when you know what email marketing is and why it is essential to have well-designed emails, let’s delve into the matter and observe 10 great email design practices. So, in the next paragraphs, you will find 10 excellent email design practices that we recommend you consider before running your campaign. And of course, we did not forget to pepper the article with great newsletter examples to get you on the right track.

1. Create a Catchy Subject Line

The subject line of your email is the first thing that your recipients see. So, it sets their first impression and makes them either ignore your email or click and open it. Studies have shown that about 47% of recipients open the email based on the subject line only. So, it is very important to create a catchy subject line that triggers your recipients’ interest. To write a good subject line, try to grab your reader’s attention and provide them with a summary of what they will see once they open the email. Just try to avoid words such as “free,” “help,” or “reminder” since, according to a recent MailChimp report, they affect the open rates negatively. For some ideas, see the newsletter examples below:

Email newsletter subject line do's and don'ts phone screenshot
Email newsletter subject line do's and dont's list

2. Create an Informative Pre-Header

The pre-header of your email is the second thing your customer segment sees. Most of the companies write the first sentence of their email as a pre-header. However, why not use every design opportunity to make your email look more attractive? So, it would be smart to customize the pre-header of your email. What about giving your audience a short description of what is included in that specific message?

3. Use the Layout Smartly

Make sure that your layout is organized. Would you be enthusiastic about reading a messy email? I am pretty sure that the answer is “NO.” So, unorganized emails will increase the abandonment rate and won’t even stimulate your recipients to go further and view your website.

To avoid this kind of undesired ending, you should use the layout smartly and create organized newsletter templates. We analyzed several crucial web design elements in our previous article:

  • Those included fast navigation
  • The usage of white space
  • The strategic placement of your main message

The elements you should incorporate in your email marketing design don’t differ from those used in web design very much.

For instance, look at the newsletter example below. The creators used a proper contrast of colors, which is also quite minimalistic in this case. The information and the clickable buttons are placed in the middle of the layout to draw the viewers’ attention to the product and to the actions they want them to take.

Email newsletter CTA placement example

4. Add Call-to-Action Buttons

CTAs are one of the most important buttons for your conversion. Through adding these buttons, you can convince your recipients to take different actions, from following you on social media to shopping on your website. Furthermore, according to a Campaign Monitor study, you can increase your click-through rates by 28% through replacing simple text links with Call-to-Action buttons.

Keep in mind that Call-to-Action buttons should be visible and attention-grabbing. For instance, in the example, above we can see how strategically the CTAs are placed. Moreover, it is worth noting that in this case, the picture is clickable, too. So, the viewers will find themselves on this brand’s website even after accidentally clicking on the image.

5. Personalize Your Emails

Try to send personalized emails to your audience. Customized emails create a more humanized and personal connection between your brand and your customer segment. If you opened your mailbox and came across an email which is more or less tailored to your needs, you would be more inclined to open it, right?

So, put your first-hand individual experience into business thinking. Personalized emails will help to increase your retention rate, which in its turn will lead to higher conversion. Personalized emails may include newsletters that inform your subscribers about the new arrivals that may interest them based on their previous purchases or viewed items or a special email wishing them a happy birthday. Let’s agree that receiving such an email would make most people feel special. You can even add a little bit of spice by giving them a birthday discount. Just like in the example you can find below:

Email marketing newsletter personal birthday example

On this note, it is essential to mention that sending a birthday email is a smart investment. Experian Data found out that birthday emails have 481% higher conversion rates than direct email marketing campaigns. These kinds of numbers and contrasts shouldn’t be taken for granted. So, if you were lost and had trouble figuring out where to start, this short fact should put you on the right track 😉

As mentioned above, personalized newsletter examples may also include recommendations. Imagine opening an email informing you about the available sales and recommending you some items that suit your taste. This kind of approach saves your recipients’ time and once again makes them feel special. Trust me; it’s a great way to show your professionalism and boost your customer loyalty. Take a look at the newsletter example below for some inspiration.

Email marketing newsletter personal example

6. Add Visual Content

Imagine opening an email and seeing several paragraphs of information without any visual treats. It would be incredibly boring, and you wouldn’t even read it. Is that a company trying to boost its business or a letter from the municipality? Ah, wait, not the best comparison. The chances that you would eventually read the latter are higher. A recent study found that you can increase your click-through rate by 300% by just including a video in your emails. Crazy, right?

So, try to give your audience some visual treats. Flavor your emails with different engaging images, videos, GIFs, or animations. See a couple of brilliant examples below:

Email newsletter engaging image gif example
Email newsletter engaging image example

7. Use Emojis

We have already discussed the use of emojis as an effective and appealing graphic design trend. For the same reasons mentioned in this article, the use of emojis in your emails can increase your click-through rates. Emojis, at first glance, may seem unprofessional and even repellent. However, studies have shown quite the opposite. According to a study conducted by myclever Agency, 56% of brands experienced higher open and click-through rates after including an emoji in their subject lines. So, don’t be afraid of peppering your emails with emojis. Just make sure that they walk harmoniously with the concept of your brand and your message.

Top emojis to use in email newsletter subject lines

8. Make Your Design Responsive

Make sure that your design is responsive. As discussed in one of our previous articles, responsive design is one of your website’s most critical design elements. The indispensability of this design element doesn’t diminish when it comes to newsletter templates or general emails that are aimed to market your brand. Through having a responsive design, you enable your recipients to read your emails conveniently despite what kind of device is at hand. Did you know that 41.9% of all emails are opened through a mobile device, and 42.3% of recipients delete those emails not optimized for a smartphone? So, making your emails fit any screen will improve your recipients’ user experience and, of course, your retention rate.

9. Be Brief and On Point

Ah, what a lovely day to sit down and spend a couple of minutes of my life reading an email from this store. Did I sound weird? I was just joking. This might be a scene from a parallel reality, but it definitely has nothing to do with the one we live in. If you received boring and time-consuming emails from shop X, you would probably unsubscribe.

So, remember that it’s important to value people’s time. Give your recipients the information they need and try to skip the details. This will help to reduce the unsubscription rate.

10. Have an "Unsubscribe" Button

On this note, I would like to mention another essential design element. Despite how weird it may sound, that element is the “Unsubscribe” button. Keep in mind that email marketing is effective only if you provide your recipients with content that more or less fits in with their interests. However, people change with time, and so do their tastes and needs. So, over time, your content may become irrelevant to some of your audience.

Thus, considering the above-mentioned circumstances, it is vital to give your recipients a chance to leave on a positive note. Rather than get annoyed and disappointed by your company/brand. So, don’t forget to add a visible unsubscribe button to your newsletter template.

P.S. don’t forget that besides being an important email design element, this is also a legal requirement. According to the law, you should inform your recipients how not to receive emails from your company in the future. So, having this button is not an optional design addition.

Final thoughts

So, Email Marketing is one of the most efficient Digital Marketing Strategies. However, you should remember that it’s not about sending texts to your potential customer via email. It’s about convincing that your product is worth buying. Therefore, it is important to make sure that your emails are on point and eye-pleasing. With this article, we gave you 10 excellent email design elements that will increase your conversion and retention rates, allowing you to impress your customer segment. All you need to do is put them into practice. Once you have done it, you are ready to go and conquer new digital horizons for your brand.

General FAQ

What are email newsletter design best practices?

  1. Create a Catchy Subject Line
  2. Create an Informative Pre-Header
  3. Use the Layout Smartly
  4. Add Call-to-Action Buttons
  5. Personalize Your Emails
  6. Add Visual Content
  7. Use Emojis
  8. Make Your Design Responsive
  9. Be Brief and On Point
  10. Have an “Unsubscribe” Button

How do I grow my email list?

A solid social media strategy, value propositions, consistent high value content, awesome lead magnets, landing pages, free incentives and always evaluating new methods.

What makes a good newsletter template?

Clean design with clear CTA’s and a fully mobile responsive layout.

About Passionate

Passionate is a full service design agency specialising in providing branding, graphic design, web design and WordPress, Shopify and Webflow services.

We pride ourselves on our meticulous attention to detail, speed of delivery and the genuine advice we provide throughout the process. Last but not least, we try to be as flexible as possible, within your budget and deadlines. So if there is something you think we can help with, feel free to just book a call and we’ll walk you through the rest! 

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