In case you hadn’t heard, email marketing isn’t dead. And to prove it, we take a look at some of the best email designs we've come across.
In fact, the reality is quite the opposite. Billions of emails are sent every year. It’s fast, convenient and most importantly, effective.
As a business tool, McKinsey & Company found emails to be 40 times more successful at acquiring new clients than either Facebook and Twitter—just one of the many interesting statistics to support the success of email marketing.
If you’re a startup or brand wanting to leverage this success, a well-designed email is crucial to breaking through the pack. Amongst so much competition, a great email design needs to capture the attention of the reader right away to avoid being deleted and risk never being seen.
Below, we show you how the pros do it. We hope this post inspires you to create your own awesome email designs!
We credit Beautiful-email-newsletters.com for the work they’ve done to bring some of these examples to our attention, for use in this article.
01. Experiment with color blocking
The color blocking and beautiful tinted colors in this example from The Stylish City are striking and very effective; the muted color palette paired with the blush and black create a modern and sophisticated feel. The layout is appealing and unique, like a newsletter and fashion editorial all in one, however the type still manages to pull central focus by being front and center, and on top of the image.
02. Use color to attract attention
In this example by IS Design + Digital, a neon color to gets the reader’s attention fast and makes it very hard not to stop and read the headline. The square box around the type maximizes this effect to the point that the name of the festival could likely be recalled by even the most uninterested of readers. Strong images, standout calls to action, and strong contrast are all effective elements in this design.
03. Have fun with animation
This example by Mika Osborn uses a fun and creative GIF that delivers one simple and clear message with a unique, surprising and memorable design. The message is perfectly delivered to its customers, encouraging them to follow the brand’s Pinterest and be inspired by more great images like this one. A neutral background and center position creates absolute focus on the gif, with the surrounding information perfectly placed to motivate to reader into action.
04. Keep it simple
This email design by Apple employs a great use of white space and a clear central focus on the product. The product is nicely displayed with pops of color to add interest and the information is perfectly aligned and carefully placed, with a vertical hierarchy for easy skimming. The use of different type sizes and grayscale colors let readers understand what’s important and what’s less important. This design is straight to the point with minimal elements and simple structure.
05. Let your content shine
Beautifully captured photographs are the central focus of this design by Artur, and they do not fail in tempting readers to take a second look. The white type manages to pop out next to the images and everything else in the design stays neatly in the background. The dark gray complements the colors of each image and gives the overall design a cool and modern look.
06. Develop a strong color palette
A brilliant color palette with strong, vibrant tones and a unique concept is what makes this email design by Engage an attention-grabbing piece. The pairing of the vibrant yellow feature color with the textured image and black and white graphics makes for a simple but fresh color scheme that is sure to stand out in the crowd.
07. Make it pop with color
This eye-catching email design by Studio Newwork showcases the work done by creatives within the agency. Its brightly colored background is eye-catching and frames the displayed work effectively. This use of color allows the visual work to pop off the page and directs the eye right to the content and the abstract elements and creative placement of text helps to add movement to the overall design. This design pairs vibrant color with minimal elements, to makes for a great design.
08. Make it recognizable
This email design by Burberry is a great visual solution to showcasing their brand’s iconic trench coat and reinforcing brand awareness. The design manages to achieve instant recognition thanks to the tan color palette and diverse shots of the signature coat. The choice of typefaces are clean and clear and the consistent grid lets the reader follow the visual story very easily. A simple, streamlined and easily recognised design.
09. Less really is more
Beautiful and strong, this design by Chanel uses simplicity at it’s best. Theres one image used to represent the brand, one headline, one description and one call to action, all centrally focused and aligned, no one element overpowers the other. While the overall design is fairly minimal, the use of the ribbon to represent the brand keeps the design engaging and playful.
10. Ramp up the contrast
This example by Churchmedia demonstrates an interesting way to construct an email event announcement. The diverse font choices contrast nicely against each other, the mix of thin and thick and serif and sans-serif helps the type jumps off the page and adds to the visual hierarchy. The color palette also has a nice and punchy contrast, giving the overall design a very modern feel, with an fun and vibrant edge.
11. Direct the focus
This design by Corbis is another perfect example of how to let your content act as the main focus. The emotive photographs on a solid black background with large margins to avoid overcrowding makes for a very powerful attention grabber. This design really plays up on the linked content by using quotes from the story as titles as well to even further entice viewers to read on.
12. Balance it out
This email newsletter by Toben has a simple and minimal design that still manages to be interesting and inviting. The carefully composed images and logo are a unique touch and the pop of orange adds life and dimension The center alignment and balance of elements gives this email a harmonious composition that encourages the reader to take a minute to peruse the content.
13. Make it legible
This design by SoSweet Creative uses large type, a limited color palette and strong hierarchy to make for an exciting, fun and easy to navigate email invitation. Each typeface complements the others around it and is easily legible, the yellow highlights draw attention to key pieces of information and the large arrow motifs guide the eye. An easy to read and attention-grabbing piece.
14. Work with shapes
The interesting use of circle frames and geometric divisions are what make this design by Piotr Świerkowski eye-catching. While the design remains very linear and streamlined, geometric shapes and leading lines give the design a unique edge while also helping relay information and point out what’s important. Consider introducing some geometric shapes into your design for an interesting effect.
15. Use color for cohesion
This design by Lindsey McMurray represents a fun brand with bright and clean colors divided up with plenty of whitespace. The colors are used cohesively throughout the design to help tie the written content with the visual content. The paint splatters are fun and reinforce the creativity of the product while also keeping in with the palette and overall cohesion. A strong color palette offset with plenty of white space can help tie your design together nicely.
16. Blend fun and function
This design by Marni has undertaken a creative concept by styling the images as paper cutouts, which gives the design a nostalgic and tangible feel while also engaging the reader into imagining how each piece would work together. This email sets itself apart from the rest by presenting the items they are cataloguing in a unique, fun and functional way.
17. Develop a theme
A strong theme for your email design can make it stand out from the rest. For example, this design by Open Season has developed an outer space theme that ties in with the brand and the newsletter’s topic. A subtle planetary animation in the header, constellation graphic, space-themed film screencap and carefully worded type make for a strong theme and strong design for this brand’s newsletter.
18. Make it seamless
This design by Big Sea Design & Development uses a simple and clean photo in the header that has a light colored backdrop that has been made to extend seamlessly into the rest of the design. Instead of cutting off your images with a border or harsh line, try to make it seamlessly work into the rest of the design to make for a cohesive and calmer design.
19. Visualise your message
This design by Need Supply Co. has a creative and unique approach, each element is carefully thought out and placed in an interesting way to help communicate the sale. The bold white circle attracts the eye instantly and makes the message hard to miss, as does the sliced image of man and woman, a clever visual representation of the 50% markdown. The neon green also helps to pull the eye directly toward each element to ensure that the message is really and truly communicated.
20. Order your information logically
The neatly organized layout and vibrant pink highlights are what make this design by Simon Ker very effective in communicating a lot of information. The links in this design stand out with the hot pink against the dark background, creating a sharp and eye-catching effect. Neatly aligned boxes and consistent spacing between elements creates order among a large number of elements. A great example of how to create order and hierarchy in densely-packed information.
21. Have a strong tone
The minimal design in this example by Elizabeth Lies helps communicates this company’s message loud and clear. With a brand mission to show the simplicity of life on the road, the use of as simple type and uncomplicated images help to give the reader a clear picture of exactly what the mission and tone of the brand is.
22. Keep it tidy
This email newsletter by Hatch Inc has a straightforward and effective layout that manages to organize a lot of information into a clean and well-balanced design. It takes the reader on a journey through the featured content in divided sections. Each image has been given a wide enough margin to avoid overwhelming the design, and type is kept minimal to further prevent clutter. A beautifully balanced and even design that is easy to consume.
23. Use a dash of color
This design by Nick Cade does a good job in communicating a lot of information in a clear, organized, and attractive way. The pastel green is used throughout the article to break up the blocks of black type and introduce color throughout the piece while the neatly sectioned type and consistent font choices make for an easy read.
24. Have a reason behind every decision
The images used in this design by Pixel Buddah are beautiful still shots that capture and then hold viewers’ interest and set a distinct tone that is also reflected in the soft color palette. The type in this example is set beautifully and thought has been put into the copy’s phrasing. The use of the simple word ‘more’ as the main call to action motivates the reader even further and is a clever way to encourage action. The thoughtful use of space, color and type is what makes this design effective.
25. Consider monochrome
A great monochromatic palette and excellent use of contrast are what make this email newsletter by Seipp a standout design. The use of grayscale colors and geometrically divided sections of information creates a sleek, modern and sophisticated look. The way the images, type and graphic elements have been composed allow for the eye to easily move around the page and sort through the information without confusion. There is a great sense of harmony throughout this monochromatic design.
26. Balance your type and images
The layout of this email by Shopbop is balanced, organized, and straight to the point. The images are eye-catching and seductive with brilliant pops of color and are balanced out with short, sweet and simple type. This design has all the right elements to call on readers to click on their links.
27. Divide your information horizontally
This design by Beans N’ Rice Creative Studio uses consistent sections to allow for this design to communicate several messages at once, each with equal importance. The header and footer are clearly separated and the vertical sequence, divided horizontally lets the reader scroll through the information with ease. Each image is simple but strong in color and composition letting section to speak for itself and no one section overpower the other.
28. Ramp up the contrast
The black background, colorful imagery, and white text give this design by Stolen Girlfriends Club a highly contrasted, sleek and interesting effect. The big white numbers and boldly highlighted headlines lead readers from top to bottom creating an easy to navigate path. The alignment varies but stays consistent and interesting.
29. Make it rustic
This design by Need More Designs has created an authentically vintage feel with the old school typewriter font and a taupe color palette. The handwritten greeting adds a nice personal touch and helps create a connection with the reader. The product images are nicely shot with cool textures in the background and the calls to action and descriptions are kept minimal to motivate the reader to discover more.
30. Encourage your audience to DIY
This design by Terrain was based on a fun and creative idea that was successfully executed. There are a lot of unique elements and the design feels like a party that is just waiting to be planned. The chalkboard effect combined with the real life items and step-by-step layout, gives this a do-it-yourself vibe, one that encourages the reader to take part in it themselves.
31. Create a visual map
This email design by Petr Pliska includes a visual map for the reader to follow which helps the information process more easily. Each point has its own icon which acts as small visual cues to ensure the amount of information isn’t overwhelming. Lots of white space and minimal color palette keeps this design balanced and easy to digest.
32. Flaunt Your Imagery
This design by Wildfox has an elaborate use of imagery that creates a strong theme for the brand. The use of vibrant and dreamy photos creates a fantasy-like aesthetic that instantly pulls the reader in. This design has a great use of handwritten type that complements the overall design without compromising legibility.
33. Use one big call-to-action
This example from J.Crew has been designed with the user in mind. The slow reveal of the large exclamation mark as the user scrolls down and then the large and intriguing call to action makes for an email that will be easily read and a link that is likely to be followed – people’s curiosity often gets the better of them. A very simple and daring but well thought out email design.
34. Play with patterns
This design by Kate Spade has chosen to use high-contrast patterns and a simple but loud palette as the main visual element. The use of strong black and white patterns against the vibrant yellow and turquoise attracts instant attention to the copy without ruining any of the legibility. Consider introducing bold patterns into your email design for a simple way to attract a lot of attention.
35. Get festive (the right way)
A big time for retail sales and email newsletters is the holidays, but when it comes to designing an email for the festive seasons, try not to fall into cliche design elements. This email design by J.Crew has been done up for Halloween, but instead of replying on the typical orange and black, lots of bats, lots of cobwebs etc. designs that are typical for Halloween, J.Crew has instead opted for a classy design that is in line with their brand, using predominantly monochromatic design with a pop of the signature orange. A classy twist on the typical festive design.
36. Draw it out
This design by Urban Outfitters has a very simple layout that would be nothing flash to look at if it weren’t for the added hand drawn elements. By adding small black doodles around the photographs, this design becomes a lot more personal, fun and unique, all of these qualities fitting nicely in with the brand. Proof that just one added element can completely transform your design.
37. Be playful with your product
This design by Michael Bodiam for menswear label Mr Porter is the perfect blend of playful, unique and functional. The items displayed in the email have been presented a paper map which helps construct the idea that these items are all necessary for travelling. A clever and playful layout could be what you need to help your email stand out.
38. Put the ‘mail’ back in ‘email’
This template example from Advolocaru binds the information within a letter an envelope to capture the feeling of receiving hard copy mail. This simple graphic helps order the information neatly while still giving it a creative and personal touch.
39. Experiment with a slow reveal
Consider how your audience will consume the email, likely by quickly scrolling down the email and skimming the content at first. This design by Banana Republic plays on this scroll-and-skim action by including a slow reveal of the main type that leads toward a punchy call to action link. A simple way to enhances your users’ experience.
40. Say it indirectly
A direct design can get you somewhere quick, but a more indirect design can get you somewhere great. This email by J.Crew has opted to not show any of their products, a bold move for an apparel company. Instead, they have used a simple photo of a fortune cookie with a quirky ‘fortune’ that also acts as a call to action. Within email design, a more indirect approach to selling your product and brand is riskier, but if done well can have a great payoff.
41. Go minimal
This design by Squarespace has opted for a bare-bones email design with minimal type, imagery and color palette. Only one image is used, a simple, near-monochromatic nature shot that has a simply-set email heading “10” overlayed and the rest of the email is set in plain black type, all one size, hierarchy is distinguished with font weights only. A design doesn’t have to have a lot of bells and whistles to be effective, experiment with taking away from your design instead of adding.
42. Experiment with an angular grid
This design by Sephora has used an interesting zig-zag-like layout, the flat-lay imagery has been aligned to a diagonal grid that is emphasized with the vibrant blocks of color. The angular layout is both enticing to look at as well as functional to order lots of information and imagery.
43. Get graphic
This example by Handy is a ‘year in review’ based newsletter that thanks customers for their business as well as celebrates their own success with a few infographic-like graphics and data representations. This heavily graphic-based email is a fun and effective way to communicate lots of data and information with audiences in a way everybody will understand.
44. Experiment with alignment
The general rule of thumb for type is that left-alignment is most easily legible, but don’t view this as a law to which you must always obey. This example by Brother Moto has aligned most of its elements to the center so that the focus remains directly down the middle of the page to make a pretty effective layout that is still legible and balanced.
45. Make it urgent
This design by Jack Spade keeps things simple but urgent, with one visual and a focus on the call to action. Using large type, a vibrant, attention-grabbing color and a simple visual that relates back to the central message makes for a simple design that still manages to communicate urgency and the need to act fast. A good example of a quick, clean and direct way to communicate with your readership.
46. Frame your photos intentionally
If you are intending to take photos for your email design, plan them out ahead of time to make sure they will work with your layout ideas. This email by TOMS is a good example of planning ahead – the framing of the images used allow for the foreground and background to act as a textured backdrop for type and other elements. A simple tactic to get the most flexibility out of your images and the most elements into your email while avoiding clutter.
47. Experiment with sidebars
Take a leaf from the book of web design and consider incorporating a sidebar into your email design. A lot of email designs section their information in parallel horizontal blocks, but as you can see in this example by Super Things, sectioning your information vertically into a sidebar can help disperse type and data evenly and reduce the vertical length of your emails.
48. Cut down on type
This design by Canopy showcases the benefits of cutting down on your type. If you are a retail-based company or have some products you’d like to show off, let the images speak for themselves. This design groups items together under a single umbrella that allows for enough explanation for each piece. Cutting down on type allows for this design to be simple, clean and direct.
49. Use a visual step-by-step guide
For businesses that want to introduce their product and explain its functions, a visual guide could be incredibly useful. This example by InVision uses an illustrated guide of the functions of their software that flaunt its features while also providing an easy to follow manual for first time users. Another bonus: only a little type is needed with visual guides, as links can help direct confused readers to a more fully rounded explanation.
50. Frame your content
Flat lay photography has really kicked off lately, so use it to your email design’s advantage. This example by DCW Design showcases a perfect way to make a simple design that is still focussed on the text while still subtly introducing imagery. By laying various stylish items around the edges of the blank background, you create a nice visual frame for your text that complements the main message.