Email Design- What You Can Do To Make It Work

Your inbox is littered with thousands of mails and they keep coming in relentlessly, doesn’t matter if you’re alive, dead or anywhere in between. This phenomenon has always interested me and made me wonder about what goes about behind the scenes when these emails are being sent. Does the sender really expect anything in return? Are they looking to capture details or get you to click, or is it just done for the sake of doing? For putting it up as a graph during the monthly business unit review? I for one think that the majority doesn’t really care about what I think about their emails.

 Why email design is important

Well, for starters, that is what attracts the reader to indulge you. Email design is serious business, if you are really interested in eliciting some sort of response. The best email marketers consider this as one of the pillars of their program. Going back to your inbox, you will find it hard to pick out emails that are actually designed well, where you can actually see the effort put in. This is the sad reality of the email marketing industry, despite the millions of articles and guides written on how to do it right. As a smart marketer, you will see the benefit of this self hurting process of the industry. You see the immense opportunity it gives you. Imagine a scenario where you can invest a little more time and effort on your email design and watch the way it creates a direct line with your customer. The opportunities are endless! This is exactly why I am writing this piece, despite the aforementioned million other such write ups.


 This graph is a good indicator about how important email design is. Let me explain why. The top factors are trust based. Now, to earn this trust you need to have a bare minimum quality guideline to adhere to. Good email design is the best way to do it. It instills consistency in your emails, be it the colors, the placement of your CTAs, your subject lines and much more.

The interesting part of this graph is that the offer based incentive is way below on the scale. This goes to prove that it is not really about discounts and offers, brands aren’t built on these attributes today, and it’s the sign of the times.

To reach the level of trust where 55% of email receivers open your email because they trust you, you must have to build the relationship over a period of time. This requires a legitimate email design structure you incorporate into every email you design and send.

Value creation is at 3rd place. This requires you to master the content aspect of your email. Talking about how the weather is affecting the sales of umbrellas is a moot point. Market research and analysis will give you a clear idea of what your target market is looking for, and all you need to do is align your product/service at the right place.


The key elements of email design

There are 3 key elements to the email design process

  1. Planning
  2. Design and development
  3. Testing and sending

You would think this is what email marketing is about, but no. this is a part of the whole picture and without properly running and executing these, you cannot have a successful email campaign, no matter what you do.


There are multiple aspects to this process. The planning stage is designed to allow you to go ahead and plunge into the depths of what your customer needs, understanding the pulse of the market and then create the master plan.

  1. Copy- What you write is what gets acted upon. So as an email marketer, I suggest that this element should be of prime importance in the hierarchy of affairs. It builds trust, readers will look forward to your emails and they may do as directed. Isn’t this what every email marketer needs anyway? The best way to do a good job at creating convincing email copy is to understand the pain points of the customer. People are looking for solutions, become a part of it.
  2. Length- This is an extension of the copy process but it amazes me how many emails are longer than over 300 words. No one doing anything worth anything today has the time or the patience to read any email longer than that. Keep it short, crisp and to the point. Building fantastical stories is one thing, if you don’t have a solid point; you might as well print it out as a book and put it up in the fantasy section in Amazon.
  3. The reader- Who are you sending your emails to. Are they young adults, seniors, professionals or millennials, these aspects matter a lot today. The demographic distinction needs to be clearly made and segmented into your database. Create content that connects with each of these demographics by way of building buyer personas and writing for them.


What you see, is what you get. Readers are visual, before they even begin reading. This is why designing your email well is important. Yes, design is important, but there are certain other aspects that need to be considered in this process. We will get to that in some time. Let’s look at the design aspect of emails.

  1. Colors- The colors you use within the template have to go through a clear selection process. The selection process should involve the elements of your brand colors, contrast, ease of reading and other such variables. Always keep your brand color guidelines in perspective while selecting colors. This improves brand recall and improves consistency. There are no hard and fast rules about the colors you use, just make sure it doesn’t look like a neon sign.
  2. Headers- making your headers work for you requires you to ensure you do not go overboard with the size. Keep it at 2-3 cms or 1-2 inches in height. Making it too large can backfire because if the reader has images switched off then they will see a large white gap at the top.
  3. Bottom links- Repeat your CTA here. It confirms and adds affirmation to your email. After reading your email, they will not need to scroll all the way to the top to click on your CTA.
  4. Bottom header- this is where all the contact information, social and email share options go. This is also where the unsubscribe option goes. The reader should be able to clearly see it and take action. Make sure all links work.
  5. Images- This is the trickiest aspect of email design. Use relevant images and make sure they aren’t too big or flashy. Be careful when using human subjects, there is a thin line between tasteful and vulgar. They should render properly on various email clients as well as screen sizes, so testing these images well is important.

Testing and Sending   

Once you are done with all of these processes, it is important to step back and see if what has been created is in line with the basic structure of the email campaign. Does it incorporate all the elements of what you need in it? Does it meet all the objectives that you laid down during the planning phase? This is important because going ahead without this check will create issues and you will see that your results are not good.

  1. Testing- Testing wasn’t seen as a necessary aspect of email marketing up until recently and it completely beats me as to why. It gives you so much data that there has been times when marketers have scrapped entire campaigns because the testing gave them an idea of the possible issues. Why would you risk it all without testing your campaign?
  2. Sending- Make sure all the technology aspects of the email campaign are in place. Your database places a key role here. IP stability has to be taken into account. Factor such as timing and schedule have to be taken into consideration now.

A well designed email campaign does a lot more than a mediocre one. It takes time and effort to crack it all the way to the top. Putting in that time will be rewarded, only if you are consistent. Creating trust takes time and decent email design is the best way to go about doing this.

Jenni Wrights

Jenni is a VP at Ampliz who focuses on business solutions. She writes about current marketing trends in Social Media and Email marketing, helping entrepreneurs to generate leads for their businesses.

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