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Email design: tools & tips to perfect it

Email design tools, techniques, and tips that will help you create professional emails that inspire action and conversions.

First published

06.05.2022

Last edited

26.07.2022

Read time

13 minutes


    By Ilija Sekulov

    I'm from Strumica, Macedonia. It's pretty hard to find a movie I haven't already watched. An introvert who happens to be a good listener and even better team player. An economist by degree, a marketing manager at heart. Seeing my website on the first page of Google is what excites me most.

    Your email marketing effort can transform into an engaging venture that helps readers react to and engage more with your brand. We’re talking about one of the most essential marketing details – email design.

    Email marketing isn’t going anywhere, and if you do it right, you can expect great results.

    These points range from how you introduce the subject, to your call-to-action, to the tools available for incredible email design.

    So, let’s dive into email design and find out how to create powerful, high-converting digital mail.

    What is email design and why is it important?

    Email design refers to all aspects of creating an email for business, marketing, or other purposes.

    These aspects include choosing the color palette, the content, email subject lines, fonts, image selection, and much more.

    Image Source: reallygoodemails.com/vacasa

    Email design ensures the email and its content resonate with your target audience, especially your current customers and email subscribers. All this should be done once you’ve created your audience profile.

    Content from email marketers may include welcome messages and product updates.

    Aspects of email design

    Did you know every email you’re sending out should have the perfect design to drive awareness, the click-through rate, and sales for your business? You can do this by focusing on these essential aspects for distinctive marketing emails.

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    Header

    The header email section is like the envelope field. The header is the first thing readers see in their inboxes.

    The subject line also influences the reader’s decision to open your email.

    Since 53% of emails get opened on mobile devices, ensure the subject’s design conforms to the screen area. Four to seven words will work with the limited screen area of mobiles.

    The preheader

    Preheaders are the second subject line on mobile devices. Use the section to entice your reader further to open the email. Use five to eight words.

    Logo and colors

    The logo and email colors will be the first things your reader notices when they open the email. Use these elements consistently across your email contacts for easier brand recognition.

    Image

    Images help capture the reader’s attention visually. Opt for images that support the message in your email.

    The text

    Before reading an email on a mobile device or online, people scan the content. Your text should make the reader stop and be easy to consume.

    Larger headers will lead readers to the message body and the call to action.

    Your Call to Action

    Include a statement that tells the recipient what to do next. Perhaps you want the reader to call your store, visit a page, or redeem a coupon. Add a button to make your call to action recognizable and easy to click.

    The footer

    Your email design footer section should be the same from email to email. Include important contact information in the section.

    Consider including your social channels, so recipients know where to find you on their preferred social media platforms.

    Types of email design

    Any email campaign requires a specific email design. The following are the three common email design types available.

    Plain text

    Emails that use plain text feature a simple format. This email is popular for personal correspondence.

    The plain text email design offers several benefits, including:

    • Only vital information is in the email
    • Emails are mobile-friendly and responsive
    • The communication feels personal
    • The design is accessible

    Rich HTML

    A rich HTML email design looks like a mini landing page. You can use HTML to organize things such as coloring, unique structures, images, and beautiful typography.

    Rich HTML includes the use of CSS and HTML to convey your message.

    The main pros of this email design are:

    • It’s flexible
    • It has excellent formatting and organization
    • It’s mobile-friendly and responsive
    • It’s got great accessibility
    • It includes different information forms, such as dynamic effects, GIF animations, and images

    Interactive

    Interactive email design uses JavaScript to offer the email recipient multiple choices before the final destination. Readers engage with email content by swiping, tapping, or clicking.

    The influential wow factor of the interactive email design can win over your crowd, offering a better return on investment.

    Implementing AMP and interactive email designs entails some initial investment. The benefits of implementation include:

    • Your brand will stand out in a saturated market
    • You’ll be riding the leading edge of an enormous wave
    • It helps build stronger customer relationships
    • It improves brand awareness and loyalty
    • It offers your recipients options before they come to your website

    Overall

    You can break down each category into other types of email design, including:

    • Informative email designs
    • Re-engagement email designs
    • Behavioral email designs
    • Holiday email design
    • Promotional email designs
    • Seasonal email design

    Why email design is important

    Even if you are constantly managing your contacts list to ensure that you are only emailing those who are interested in what you are offering, you can’t guarantee that contact will even open the email, let alone take the time to actually absorb the information.

    Today, people don’t have the time to read everything – no matter how much they engage with your brand. They scan instead of reading.

    The primary objectives for designing emails are:

    • To encourage email recipients to read your email newsletters
    • To captivate recipients with a beautiful design
    • To encourage recipients to take action immediately and reduce your unsubscribe rate

    Advantages of email design

    Can your business afford to do without these advantages?

    Tracking email metrics

    You must track how your efforts are engaging with your target audience. Otherwise, you won’t have a method to refine your email marketing campaign iteratively.

    Email design offers you a chance to construct metrics for your campaign. Plus, you can make adjustments that improve success.

    Optimize rate of information uptake

    The human brain recognizes images in fewer than 13 milliseconds. Your brain responds faster to imagery than to text, something email design should consider.

    Imagery is an integral part of figuring out how your readers’ brains work.

    A strong hero image as the lead instantly captures the eye and ensures the email engages with more people.

    HTML and interactive designs can help create an appealing email that visualizes content in the best way.

    A responsive design displays content best

    Mobile browsing and desktop browsing are standard. So, you need to create email campaigns that adjust to the recipient’s device and screen size.

    Once you get it right, you can present your services and products in the palm of your reader’s hand.

    Get it wrong, the email won’t display correctly, and your email will probably end up in the spam folder.

    Responsive emails have a significant impact on click-through rates. Use a responsive email builder to create emails that render perfectly on all devices.

    What good email design looks like

    Before we show what an excellent design looks like, it’s important to stress that misunderstanding your audience makes for a poor design. The email design may be attractive, but it’s not a good design.

    90% of the US population uses email. But there’s no single email design style that is appealing to all readers.

    These three Cs are universal concepts that can help ensure your email design looks good and is effective:

    • Clear – Your email’s aim is obvious
    • Captivating – Your email’s content grabs the recipient’s attention
    • Creative – Your email stands out

    However, you don’t need to develop the brightest idea to have a good design. Instead, examine your current emails and find things you can improve on.

    14 email design tips for effectiveness

    Here are some email design guidelines and tips for creating an effective email campaign.

    Have an irresistible subject line

    The brief statement should pique the reader’s interest, so make it relevant, personal, and engaging.

    The best subject lines:

    • Capture the reader’s attention in a few words
    • Offer a value that makes the recipient want to open your email
    • Summarize the email content

    Keep it short and sweet

    Offer your email recipients information without making them wait. Doing this shows you respect the reader’s time, which will improve your subscriber retention levels.

    It is essential when writing your content that you keep it as relevant as possible and use wording that they will understand.

    And whatever you do, make sure you avoid using any potential spam trigger words.

    Make it as personalized as possible

    Email personalization is a critical way of humanizing your brand. A personalized email tailored to your reader feels more professional and thoughtful.

    Your email preheader text is an excellent place for personalization. Simply adding the recipient’s first name will get them hooked.

    Use select and relevant images

    Paragraphs of information in your email make it hard to hold a reader’s attention.

    Instead, add on-brand and message-specific images, GIFs, videos, or animations to break your written content.

    Pictures are expressive and evoke emotion. However, don’t overuse images and ensure they are the correct size across all devices.

    Be mobile-friendly

    Do you know mobiles are the most popular places for opening emails? Therefore, your email design should accommodate all screen sizes.

    It’s as vital to take a mobile-first approach to email design as it is to take a mobile-first approach to web design.

    Use the principle of responsive designs to adapt your emails to the optimal proportions for different screen sizes and windows.

    Always include a Call to Action (CTA)

    Calls to action are among the most critical elements of a good email design. Call-to-action buttons on your emails are the magnets that open doors to landing pages, so make them prominent.

    Use the CTA to echo an offer or as a logical culmination of your email content. Personalize CTAs by tailoring them to a segment of readers or a specific recipient.

    Have an unsubscribe option at the end of your email

    Many regulations require the inclusion of an unsubscribe link. Make sure the unsubscribe button is prominent.

    The button should offer an easy way for readers to opt-out.

    This strategy will help build good customer relationships while keeping your subscription list healthy and clean.

    Test out different email designs

    Do you want to know which email campaigns will catch the reader’s eye? Try A/B testing different email designs.

    A/B testing compares two versions of email design layouts and visual elements until you narrow down the comparison results.

    Data from A/B testing is robust, from conversions to click-through rates, and will reveal how recipients react to changing variables.

    Testing is an excellent optimization tool for understanding audience response when changing email calls to action, background colors, and layout.

    Match your brand identity

    When an email recipient opens your message, they should know that it has come from your company. So, brand your email.

    Keep emails on-brand by:

    • Using a consistent tone in your emails, website, social media pages, and marketing materials
    • Including a link to your website, a blog post, your logo, links to social media pages, and calls to action relevant to your services and products
    • Using the same color scheme and fonts in other marketing and branding materials

    Should you use emojis?

    An emoji may sound like an unprofessional extra for an email. However, emojis can be helpful in various ways.

    Adding an emoji to the subject line and email copy will help increase your click-through and open rates.

    However, make sure you understand the meaning of each emoji before using it. Also, ensure to make sure your audience fits in with a group that will respond positively to emojis.

    Have an email signature

    A signature is an excellent way of infusing a professional and personal feel to your email content.

    Some important information to add to your email signature design includes the first and last name of the sender, contact information, and role or title in the company.

    Include a link back to your website

    Adding a link back to your website is an excellent way to push traffic to critical areas of your blog, privacy policy, support team, and social media, as well as simply to your website in general.

    Stay on top of the latest trends

    Change is the only constant; this applies to email marketing too. Significant advancements and innovations allow designers to explore more customized dynamic content for subscribers.

    Stay ahead of the competition and consider these three dominant trends:

    Keep accessibility in mind

    Your email design must offer a comfortable user experience for all groups of people.

    Fortunately, you can achieve accessibility easily with these tips:

    • Create an optimal contrast according to level AA standards
    • Avoid green and red when creating your visual elements and use safe colors such as pastels instead
    • Don’t rely solely on images
    • Stick to reasonably large font sizes
    • Avoid content-heavy designs
    • Make email buttons easy to tap and clickable

    10 tools to help you with your email design

    There are several email design tools with various capabilities. Here are the ten most popular options out there. All prices are accurate as of May 2022.

    1. Constant Contact

    Image source: Constant Contact

    Constant Contact is a user-friendly platform with a powerful email marketing tool. The platform offers hundreds of beautiful email templates, while a simple drag-and-drop editor makes designing email newsletters effortless.

    Automation features help keep the audience engaged, building stronger relationships and turning more leads into clients.

    You can upload contact lists from Salesforce, Excel, and any other platform.

    Pros:

    • Automated email responses for sending high-volume outbound emails
    • Integration with multiple platforms
    • Easy email customization according to your brand identity and style

    Cons:

    • The User Interface (UI) requires some improvement
    • Builder is outdated

    Pricing:

    Core plans cost $9.99 a month, while the Plus plan starts at $45 monthly.

    2. Stripo

    Image source: Stripo

    The HTML email template creator software Stripo can help you build beautiful emails. You get an easy-to-use, no-code email builder tool with over 500 HTML email templates.

    Pros:

    • Integrates with most email marketing platforms
    • Ready-to-use email templates are inspirational and allow customization
    • A user-friendly UI design

    Cons:

    • The drag-and-drop feature has bugs
    • The platform is slow sometimes

    Pricing:

    The free plan has limitations. For $150 a month, you can enroll in other plans.

    3. Postcards

    Image source: Postcards

    Postcards from Designmodo is an effective email marketing platform for teams. The drag-and-drop tool is highly intuitive and features over 100 templates.

    Pros:

    • A comprehensive list of highly customizable modules
    • It helps ease custom email design
    • A simple and modern UI for easy user

    Cons:

    • Hiding some template elements instead of adding new ones is difficult
    • The file organization feature requires improvement

    Pricing:

    The free plan has limited access. The business plan starts at $17 monthly, and the Agency plan from $29, both offering unlimited emails.

    4. Unspam

    Image source: Unspam

    Unspam is an online email spam tester tool. Use it to improve the deliverability of your emails by getting a spam score and predicting results using your email newsletter’s heat map.

    Pros:

    • Includes a domain checker for detecting and getting the email domain
    • Single email verification allows verifying questionable email addresses individually
    • The deliverability check offers the status of emails and detailed insights

    Cons:

    • Doesn’t provide mail server validation
    • No email list management capability

    Pricing:

    The free plan has limitations. The Basic plan is $9 monthly, the Business plan $19 a month, Agency $29 per month, and the White Label plan gets customized to the client.

    5. MailChimp

    Image source: MailChimp

    MailChimp is one of the biggest brands in the email marketing software sphere. It’s a handy email tool for B2B organizations with sales teams.

    The user-friendly email editor is professional and attractive. Outstanding geo-tracking, Google Analytics, and social media reporting ensure email clients get value.

    Pros:

    • It integrates with over 41 different apps for payment processing and subscription management.
    • Advanced marketing tools on all paid plans help track multi-step customer journeys.
    • Flexible pricing plans
    • A drag-and-drop email builder helps you design campaigns on the fly

    Cons:

    • Multi-list subscribers count multiple times in the monthly bill
    • Too basic for setting up automation

    Pricing:

    The Free plan lets you send out 10,000 emails a month. Essentials start at $9.99 a month with up to 50,000 contacts, Standard at $14.99 with 100,000 contacts and 1.2 million monthly emails, and Premium at $299 monthly with 3 million email sends.

    6. SendInBlue

    Image source: SendInblue

    SendInblue is an email template software that also offers chat, email API, and SMS marketing design features.

    Pros:

    • Has a handy A/B testing feature
    • Personalize and design your email message, and you can choose the recipients too.
    • Segmentation lets you send out specific emails to your target audience.

    Cons:

    • Contacts management is challenging
    • Email templates require improvement and more customization options

    Pricing:

    You get a Free plan. The other plans will cost $25 monthly.

    7. BEE Free

    Image source: BEE Free

    Use the content design software Bee Free to design emails, pop-ups, and landing pages.

    The no-code tool is free to use and features email templates in different categories, including usage, automation, and industry.

    Pros:

    • Create mobile-responsive emails easily
    • Easy integration with MailChimp, SendInBlue, HubSpot, and Gmail

    Cons:

    • The free version has integration limitations
    • Rendering issues when you add brand fonts

    Pricing:

    The Free plan comes with limited features. The freelance plan starts from $15 monthly, while the Team plan costs $30.

    8. VivaDesigner

    professional email templates

    Image source: VivaDesigner

    VivaDesigner is a Desktop Publishing (DTP) program that can help you design professional email templates.

    The program features several graphic tools for optimizing images in your emails and can run on your desktop or the web.

    Pros:

    • Supports a wide range of layouts
    • Cross-platform compatibility on desktop and over the web
    • Onetime payment

    Cons:

    • No pre-made templates

    Pricing:

    The Personal edition costs $139, and the Commercial plan is $399.

    9. Moosend

    Image source: Moosend

    Moosend is an easy-to-use email design tool for small businesses. Use the platform to create subscription forms, automate your marketing effort, landing pages, etc.

    The email template builder gives you access to over 70 responsive, ready-made templates.

    Pros:

    • Detailed email analytics for tracking clicks, opens, product views, social shares, etc.
    • A forever-free plan
    • Marketing automation
    • Allows adding custom fonts, countdown timers, and videos
    • Easy-to-use drag-and-drop editor

    Cons:

    • Few pre-made templates
    • Limited third-party integrations compared to other tools

    Pricing:

    Offers a 30-day free trial. The Pro plan starts from $9 a month. Get in touch with their sales team for enterprise plans.

    10. Campaign Monitor

    Image source: Campaign Monitor

    Campaign Monitor is a web app that helps you capture and manage data in an online mailing list.

    You can import a client email address list into the platform from various database formats, including XLS, CSV, and ZIP. The email platform also allows sending autoresponders to new subscribers, for example.

    Pros:

    • An easy-to-use interface
    • Beautiful and robust templates
    • An excellent selection of web fonts
    • Comprehensive, easy-to-use, and powerful automation features

    Cons:

    • Expensive
    • Support is email-only

    Pricing:

    The Basic plan costs $9, Unlimited is $29, and Premier is $149.

    Conclusion

    Email design is an integral component of any good email marketing strategy.

    Use it to improve engagement and conversion rates. But make sure you understand what email design is and explore different tools for an effective campaign.

    Above all, keep these tips in mind as they will help you crank out exceptional emails quickly.

    See how Mailbutler can help you out with email templates:

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