The Ultimate Guide to Email Design and 10 Best Practices

Want to discover how email design can help you effectively reach your target audience, boost conversions, and build long-term relationships with prospects and customers?

By 2022, the number of email users around the world is expected to hit 4.3 billion.

Among these users are members of your target audience, that you can work to reach and convert via email. For this, it is essential that your email design needs to be on point.

In this guide, we\’ll talk about what email design is, cover 10 best practices, examples of successful email design, and offer some tools you may be interested in experimenting with. Let\’s get started.

Why is Email Design important?

Email recipients often scan information and abandon emails that don\’t offer them value or simply appear to be too dense. Therefore, a good email design helps you to capture the attention, and engage, your email recipients.

Let\’s dive into the 10 best practices for email designs that are attention-grabbing, aesthetically pleasing, and on-brand.

1. Craft a Strong Subject Line:

Your email subject line is the first thing they notice whenever you send them an email. It is a brief statement written to captivate the interest of your recipients. The purpose of a subject line is to make your recipients open and read your email. 

Here’s what a subject line looks like in your email inbox:


Here’s what a subject line looks like in your mobile device’s email inbox:


Characteristics of a Great Subject Line:

  • Keep it limited to as few words as possible (remember: less is more).
  • Create value that compels them to open the email.
  • Summarize what recipients are going to read and/ or see once they open the email.

2. Write an Attention Grabbing Pre-header:

Pre-header is a preview of what the email says and the second thing your recipients view. You can customize the pre-header to provide a peek into what your recipients are about to read in your email.

Here’s what a pre-header looks like in your email inbox:


Here’s what a pre-header looks like in your mobile device’s email inbox:


3. Be Concise:


Okay, so here\’s a question.

How many times do you open an email thinking, I just want to devote the next 5-10 minutes to dive into this email from Business X!

If you are like us, the answer is rarely or never!

Give your recipients the information they want and need directly without being around the bush. This proves you value their time which in turn improves your email subscriber retainment.

4. Keep your Email On-brand:


Keep your email on brand which means whenever your recipients open your email, they should know the email was sent from your company.

To keep your email on-brand, use the following tactics:

  • Use a tone in your emails that is in unison with your other content and marketing materials (like your website and social media).
  • Incorporate the same colors and fonts that you use in your other branding and marketing materials.
  • Include your logo, a link to your website, links to your social media accounts, and calls-to-action (CTAs).

5. Use the Layout to Enhance your Email’s User Experience:


Reading a cluttered and unorganised email drives your recipients towards abandonment.

To avoid this, organize your layout with user experience (UX) in mind — meaning, leave empty/ white space and place your written and visual content so it’s organized and easy to consume and navigate.

6. Personalize Every Email:


Email personalization helps you humanize your brand. Customizing your email and tailoring it to your recipient, feels more thoughtful, professional, and personal. This establishes a relationship between your business and email recipients and boosts retention rates.

7. Use a Responsive Design:


A responsive design means your email changes format to fit the screen it’s being viewed on, whether it\’s on a desktop, laptop, or mobile device. Recipients will be able to read your emails with ease no matter where or how they’re viewing them. By incorporating a responsive design, you\’ll be able to enhance UX and improve email retention across all devices.

8. Optimize your Email with CTAs:


Calls-to-action (CTAs) are used to convert your email recipients. For instance, you can use a CTA to get recipients to follow you on social media, visit your website, chat with a sales rep, or become paying customers.

CTAs should be visible, enticing, and clearly show why they’re valuable to click. Additionally, you might choose to personalize your CTAs to tailor them towards specific recipients — this tactic has been proven to increase conversions.

9. A/B Test your Design:


Similar to most marketing efforts, email design is an iterative process. You might determine you need to make changes and updates to get the most out of your email design.

Whether it’s modifying your CTA, colors, images, layout, or tone, don’t be afraid to A/B test designs to determine which one works best in terms of ability to reach, resonate with, and convert the greatest number of recipients.

10. Incorporate Unique Visual Content:


If recipients open an email and only see paragraphs of information, it’s likely going to be difficult to hold their attention and keep them interested in your message. Rather, incorporate on-brand and engaging images, videos, GIFs, animations, etc. to break up the written content and create a memorable experience.

Great email designs help you to reach and resonate with your audience members more effectively, allowing you to grow better. Eye-catching and impactful emails will help you build long-lasting relationships and convert more people into paying customers and brand advocates. So, begin designing your emails while keeping the best practices and examples we reviewed in mind.

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