Top 5 Design Tips for Email Templates

By Wired Messenger Email Marketing

Struggling to come up with a new layout for every email? Save yourself time by investing in email templates for your marketing campaign.

With the right design, email templates can do more than just beautify your message. They can also:

  • Streamline operations: With the design already done, you can focus more on your message and get more emails out quickly.
  • Unify your brand: Using elements pulled from your overall brand design, you can give your company a cohesive look with every message.
  • Drive engagement: With expertly designed email templates, you can ensure that every outgoing message follows email marketing best practices – increasing results with readers.

While it’s fun to get creative with your email template design, certain elements (like sizing and CTA placement) can play an important role in driving conversions with your email marketing campaign. Here are our design tips to get the most out of your email templates:

1. Check the size.

Sizing is an important part of email template design, and can have a big impact on your response rate. If emails are too large, they take more time to download – which could lead to subscribers deleting your message.

And now, with more subscribers checking their emails on mobile devices, you should create a responsive design that works well for both desktop and mobile viewing. We’ll cover more sizing tips for mobile devices in a bit – but when in doubt, follow these general marketing rules for email sizing:

  • Desktops: 600 pixel width
  • Mobile Devices: 320 pixels vertical and 480 pixel horizontal view

These general guidelines will help your emails download quickly and prevent your readers from having to scroll around to view your message – no matter what type of device they’re using.

2. Build an email marketing pyramid.

When it comes to providing email content, follow the pyramid model. Start your email with the most important details first, drawing in subscribers so they will continue reading. Even if they’re just scanning your content, they’ll still get the key message you’re trying to send – whether it’s details for your latest promotion, a confirmation for their latest order, or news about a new product or service that your company is introducing.

You can also follow the pyramid model when it comes to design elements as well. Use headers, subheaders, and quotes to create a “text hierarchy” that makes your email template visually appealing and easy to read.

Check out the pyramid design in action with this email from PELOTON:


Image Source: Really Good Emails

3. Multiply your calls to action.

Calls to action (CTAs) are an important element of email marketing; they’re what drives conversions and measurable traffic for your campaign. However, email marketing novices often fall in the trap of leaving one CTA button at the bottom of their message. Unfortunately, busy readers may not make it that far in your email, which means less engagement for you.

Instead, add multiple CTAs throughout your entire email so readers have more than one opportunity to follow your links. A good rule of thumb is to have one CTA for each section. To make your CTAs stand out, use visual elements like arrows or bright colors to draw the readers eye to the action you want them take.

You can even sprinkle some CTAs in the body of your email with hyperlinks to help drive traffic. Looking for an example of a great call to action in running copy? Here’s one: Our email marketing gurus can help you craft a CTA that’s sure to drive results. Contact us today to get started.

4. Optimize for mobile.

Making email templates that are responsive to mobile devices is a pretty big deal. Most users are going to view your emails on their smartphones, so you want to ensure that your message won’t get lost because it doesn’t fit the screen. That’s a quick way to lose subscribers – a majority of readers (about 80%) delete emails that aren’t optimized for mobile, and 3 out of 10 will unsubscribe from your email list if they can’t view your message on their mobile devices.

In addition to ensuring that your message can be clearly seen on any device, you also want to keep in mind the target size for clickable elements in your emails. The wrong size could deter readers from following your CTAs – if they can’t click on the right links, that means less traffic for you.

There are a couple approaches to sizing clickable elements for mobile viewing:

  • Finding optimal sizing for each device: Check out the interface guidelines for the types of device your subscribers may be using to view your message. For example, Apple’s iPhone Human Interface Guidelines recommend a tappable area of 44 pixels wide and 44 pixels tall for all controls.
  • Measuring based on average finger size: Most viewers use their index finger or thumb to click on links and CTA buttons on their mobile devices – so, consider catering your target area for the average finger size. According to a two-phase study by Microsoft, 9.2 – 9.6 mm for target sizes are sufficiently large enough for one-handed thumb use on touchscreen mobile devices.  

Ultimately, bigger is better when it comes to target size for your email templates. So, check with your email marketing gurus to determine how big you can go for your email templates.

5. Diversify your templates.

Don’t just stick with one template for your email marketing campaign. Create one for each type of email you plan on sending throughout your customer lifecycle.

Email template designs can either help or hurt the message you’re sending, so pick one that reflects what you’re trying to communicate to your readers. Here are some common email template types to consider:

  • Welcome Emails: Aim for simplicity, making it easy to navigate and read so readers are more likely to take the action you want them to. Capture your brand in the copy and design – welcome emails also serve to drive engagement and build expectations for future emails. This is your chance to set up brand expectations with your message.
  • Sale or Promotion Emails: Make the sale or promotion message prominent with a header or image at the beginning of your email. Ensure that the discount is clear – according to Campaign Monitor, 72% of customers open an email due to the discount it offers.
  • Newsletters: Create a unique newsletter template that helps your brand stand out. Most newsletters cover several stories and products in one message, so use images and tiles to split up your sections.

Bonus Tips for a Cohesive Email Campaign Design:

Even if each email template is different, you can keep the the overall design consistent with your brand by:

  • Using the same color scheme for each email: Pick two or three colors to weave throughout your email template designs (one primary, one secondary, and one accent). Bonus points for using colors that are are part of your brand design scheme.
  • Keep your icon style consistent: Icons can be used to draw the reader’s eye to certain points in your message. While it’s best to pair different icons with the specific information you’re sharing, use the same style elements for each icon so your design remains unified and sleek.
  • Select your key fonts: Unique fonts are a great way to make your message stand out; but don’t go crazy with every email. Instead, select a maximum of two or three fonts to apply to all of your email templates, ensuring a cohesive look throughout your campaign.

Designing email templates can be a fun part of the campaign process. But, the email templates are more effective if you include the right elements. For the best results, consider each email as a piece to the larger puzzle of your customer journey.

If you need advice for designing email templates that will work for your business, contact one of our email marketing experts today.

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