Email Design: The Ultimate Guide for 2024 [Best Practices+Examples]

Aqsa Mughees
Aqsa Mughees

Last updated on

May 15, 2024

It does not come as a surprise that by 2022, email users around the world are expected to hit 4.3 billion (Statista). Crazy, right? 

Although it is the oldest channel of digital communication, the importance of email marketing is growing exponentially. With people being bombarded with emails in double digits every day, design plays a vital role in making your email stand out from the rest. Because, let’s face it, we all clean our inbox, getting rid of unnecessary emails without even opening them. 

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So, here’s anything and everything you need to know about email design. 

What is an email design?

Well, an email design is the strategic placement of your content that is in line with your marketing goals and resonates with your target audience, resulting in engagement, lead generation, and conversion. 

Why is an email design important?

These are times when people have too much information to gauge and retain. No one has the time to go through everything you communicate, no matter how engaged your audience is with your brand. They scan and anything that catches their attention, they simply read that. 

Whereas, you are still supposed to deliver information. So how can you communicate what you want, to grab their attention? Here’s where style and design solutions come to your rescue. You can transform a regular scan into an intelligent scan, delivering the right message across. You can play with the reading flow and create a path to fill your audience with the information you want to deliver. 

How can email design benefit you?

benefits of email design

3 types of email designs

There are three main types of email designs:

1. Plain text email

plain text email

It is a simple text-based email that is usually used in personal correspondence. The benefits of using this email design include:

  • It gives a personal feel.
  • Includes only to the point, concise information.
  • It is responsive and mobile-friendly.
  • It is easy and simple to create. 

However, disadvantages of plain text email include:

  • It lacks an attractive design and wow factor.
  • It is difficult to play marketing in such emails. 

2. Rich HTML email

airbnb email design

This email is more like a mini landing page. It has a novel structure, colors, images, typography, and other fancy elements. They are created using HTML and CSS. 

Benefits of such emails include:

  • They are attractive and appealing.
  • They offer flexibility and customization.
  • They can include all kinds of information, images, animations, gifs etc. 
  • They are more structured.
  • Easy to access.
  • Responsive and mobile-optimized. 

However, there are two major cons of using HTML emails:

  • There can be browser display issues. The inconsistent display can frustrate the users. However, you can use fully responsive and mobile-friendly solutions to ensure compatibility. 
  • It requires coding and if you do not have those technical skills, you cannot pull it off unless you use a tool like Mailmunch to help you out, which is super easy to use and free as well. 

3. Interactive email 

interactive email

Interactive emails are a relatively new thing in email marketing. In email design trends, interactive emails are on the top of the list. It utilizes the real JavaScript-based interactive details. It is pretty impressive and has high engagement. It has a wow factor and can win over any crowd easily. It will not be wrong to say that it is likely to become our new future.

However, as of now, the majority of email readers do not support JavaScript. In other words, only a small number of users can enjoy these emails. The framework is quite robust but unfortunately not supported much. What you can do is that you can fake interactivity using CSS-powered dynamic effects and gifs. 

9 features crucial to an email design

features crucial to email design

1. Copy

The basic rules of email copy are:

  • Avoid big blocks of information. Break them down into small chunks. 
  • Use headings for clarity of information.
  • Use center alignment for headings and keep it consistent. Left to right alignment is more legible. 
  • Do not overdecorate your text especially if it is a block.
  • Add visuals to support your text. Use images, emojis, and icons to make the reading experience pleasant. You can also use videos. 

2. Structure

The best way to structure your email design is to add logical visual separation. With AMP being popular, people like to see visually attractive mini landing pages in their inboxes. Therefore, the header, central body, and footer should be well-organized.

  • The header should show the identity of your brand, menu, and a link to the browser version.
  • The footer should consist of your contact information including address and number, social icons, id to reach the support team, and unsubscribe option. 
  • One-column layout makes it easy to read, keeps your design clutter-free, and adapts to different screen sizes without much effort. So try sticking to that. 
  • Card layout helps in making your email visually appealing. 
  • Stick to 600px width with gaps on the sides to be safe in terms of content optimization. 
  • Be smart with white spaces. Breathing space in the email is quite essential. However, too many white spaces can ruin the user experience. 

3. Headings

It is always better to not use decorative features for captions that have descriptions to follow. Use headings. They should be simple, concise, and to the point. 

4. Scanning margins

Usually, users have an “F” pattern to scan the email. Therefore, here are a few tips to optimize your email for scanning. 

  • Add the most important information in the first line as people pay the most attention here.
  • Add bullet points and short sentences for vertical scanning.
  • Start new paragraphs, sub-heads with important keywords as readers will skim through the rest.

5. Links

Use links as links. They are usually identified in blue color, underlined. However, use styling if it does not match your color scheme and brand palette. 

6. CTA

Whenever you are designing an email, make sure that your CTA stands out and tells the user exactly what to do. That’s because your CTA acts like a magnet and opens the doors to the landing page. 

A CTA should be bold, properly colored in contrast to the background, and should have a compelling copy. It is the best practice to personalize your CTA and tailor it according to the segmentation of the audience for better results. 

7. Visuals

If you are only adding paragraph after paragraph of information, it’s going to be very difficult to hold the attention of your audience. They will either get bored or just scan the email and close it.

Incorporate on-brand and engaging images, videos, GIFs, animations, etc., to compliment the written content and create a memorable experience.

And since we are on the topic, let’s talk about adding emojis. Emojis may seem unnecessary or unprofessional to add to an email. But according to research, you can increase your open rates and click-through rates by adding emojis. Just remember to make sure you know the meaning and connotation of the specific one(s) you incorporate. 

8. Color

color representation

If you have ever read about color psychology, every color represents an emotion. The infographic below shows the representation of each color.  

You can easily take advantage of color psychology in email design and use it according to the gender, age, situation, brand identity, value, and tone you are targeting and desire. 

Besides, your campaign also defines the color palette you should use. For example, Black Friday, Halloween, or Christmas email campaigns need to be designed according to the occasion color palette. 

9. Typography

With emails, you have to be super careful with fonts. The first reason has to do with your branding: Use fonts that complement your brand’s tone. Second, and most importantly, the font you’ve chosen might not look the same across different email clients.

The reason you should be careful about typography in email design is that it influences aesthetics, readability, and user experience.

tips for using fonts in your email

Font families also have hidden meaning or representation. For example, serif fonts are for elegance. A few typography tips include:

  • Use sans serif fonts text blocks.
  • Use different fonts for headings.
  • Do not use overly decorative fonts. 
  • Use the right font-size: 14-16px for copies, 20-30px for headings.
  • Keep your spacing appropriate. It should be 1.5 times more than the font size.
  • Use the right spacing between characters. 
  • Keep your fonts consistent. 
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7 best practices for email design

Your email template says a lot about your brand. Three main elements decide whether someone will open your email or not. These elements are name, subject line, and preheader text.

best practices of email design

1. Use an attention-grabbing subject line

Your subject line is the first thing anyone sees in their inbox. It is that brief moment that will either grab the attention of the recipient or make them ignore it.

Your subject line should be designed in a way that makes the recipient open it out - either out of curiosity, value, or interest. The following email from Mailmunch has a subject line that piques the reader’s curiosity and makes them want to click on it to read more.

A great subject line will have the following characteristics:

  • Grab the attention of your email recipients in as few words as possible (idea word count is 6 to 8 words)
  • Provide value for the recipient or pique their curiosity. Anything that makes them want to open the email.
  • Give a summary of what the recipients are going to read and/ or see once they open the email

2. Add a captivating pre-header

The next important thing in your email is the pre-header. The pre-header is a preview of what the email is all about, and it should be designed accordingly.

Customize the pre-header to provide an engaging summary of what the recipients are about to read in your message.

Keep the pre-header short and concise. Make sure the vital part of the pre-header is written first so it can be visible to the recipient, no matter the device they are using.

3. Create an on-brand design

Any communication from your business should have a consistent voice, look and feel. Your audience should know they are looking at your emails as soon as they open the email.

So how do you make sure your email is on-brand? There are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Use the same tone all across your marketing collateral and emails. Use the same brand voice across emails, social media, website, and other communications.
  • Use the same colors and fonts that you use in other marketing materials.
  • Add your logo, a link to your website, your social media accounts’ links. This is a great way to increase brand awareness while also increasing customer engagement.
  • Add uniform CTAs that are according to your brand voice and color.

4. Focus on the layout

It is important to have white space in your email layout. Uncluttered and unorganized emails decrease readability and make the recipient feel overwhelmed.

Organize your email with user experience (UX) in mind. Strategically place your written and visual content and leave space to give some room to the email. Make sure your email is easy to consume and navigate.

Let's have a look at an email from Mailmunch that makes the best use of white space, with strategically placed CTA and consistent brand color and tone.

5. Place your CTAs strategically

Call-to-action (CTA) is used to give direction to your audience on what steps to take after reading your blog or email. You can use a CTA to get your audience to follow you on social media, visit your website, sign up for a newsletter, book a demo call or become a paying customer.

When placing your CTA, you need to be strategic about the location. It should be visible, enticing, and show value to the reader. Use bold text, bright colors, and large buttons. Your CTA should be well-placed and should stand out. Make sure not to bury it in some corner of your email. Make it interactive, so customers find it compelling to click on it.

6. Add an “unsubscribe” button

Always provide the option of opting out to your audience. Your readers may change their minds about your content over time - especially if your business grows and evolves. So it can be possible if your content stops being relevant to specific audience members.

Allow your audience to unsubscribe from your emails quickly and without any hassle. Add an easily visible “unsubscribe” button that is easily accessible.

Also, you are required by law to add an unsubscribe button. According to the Federal Trade Commission, GDPR, and CAN-SPAM Act, you’re legally required to include a “clear and conspicuous explanation of how the recipient can opt-out of getting emails from you in the future”.

7. A/B test your email design

Email design is an iterative process. It depends on your audience response and analytics to determine what works and what doesn’t. You might need to make changes and updates to the design and layout to get the most out of your email design.

A/B test elements of your email design like CTA, colors, images, layout, tone, white space, etc. Don’t be afraid to test out as many elements as you can. Make sure the design you select works best in terms of reach and engagement. Your final email design should convert the greatest number of recipients.

5 best email design tools

A number of email design tools are available with a wide range of capabilities to enable you to create engaging and optimized email designs ready to engage your audience.

1. Mailmunch

Mailmunch is an email marketing software that also specializes in lead generation and eCommerce marketing. If you are a small business, you can sign up to Mailmunch to create landing pages, web forms, Shopify pages, and much more, along with email marketing. Mailmunch has 1,000+ templates for emails to help you make the most engaging emails for your audience.

2. HubSpot

With HubSpot’s email marketing software, you can create, design, personalize and optimize all your email campaigns. Like any popular email service provider, you don’t need coding to design emails. You can also A/B test your emails, add images and other media elements to your emails quickly and optimize them for mobile devices.

3. Chamaileon

Chamaileon is a collaborative email builder and gives you the ability to invite other members of your team to work together on email designs. Chamaileon makes sure you have a responsive email design. The email builder comes with customizable templates that can be easily edited according to your specified recipients.

4. Stripo

Stripo requires no HTML knowledge to build and design professional emails. They have pre-made templates, all of which are responsive so that readers can easily view them via any device. Stripo also allows you to integrate your current email service provider (ESP) with the software to access all your email addresses from a central location.

5. Unlayer

Starting from $0/ month, Unlayer is a premium email design tool that lets you create beautiful-looking emails without needing any coding and design skills. The user-friendly drag and drop editor makes building emails a breeze. Change text colors, add countdown timers, embed videos - there’s so much you can do.

The best thing about Unlayer is that you can choose a design from a gallery of 1,000+ predesigned HTML email templates. Just customize these templates per your liking, and you’ve got a professional email in minutes. Moreover, you can have access to advanced features such as merge tags, timers, and carouseles. Also, Unlayer seamlessly integrates with top 20 email service providers.

Top trends in email design 

top email marketing trend

1. Dynamic content

Make your campaign more relevant to your audience segment by changing entire sections of your email dynamically. It does not only personalize your email but also increases the chances of conversion.  For example, showing menswear for the male audience and womenswear for the female audience. 

2. Tangibility

2020 was a 3D imagery year. 2024 will focus more on the brands seeking different and more creative ways to showcase their products in emails. 

Offering details with tangible imagery helps customers experience the potential purchase without having to visit the store. 

3. Fusion

A combination of both, plain and simple designs that evoke nostalgia along with futuristic designs that involve bold, bright colors and evoke positivity, in 2024. 

4. Simplistic approach

Minimalism is the key to email design these days. The cleaner and clearer your email messaging is, the more it is likely to be heard in the sea of noise. Lean designs have a simple composition, generous spacing, and a well-defined, on-brand color palette, bringing calm and clarity to the inbox. 

5. Shapes

Artistic aesthetics using organic and geometric shapes will continue to be leveraged in future email designs. This approach is really good for clean designs and reducing cognitive workload, as the design is merely abstract and the person does not have to be studied by the subscriber. 

6. Values and brand representation

Since COVID stuck, the importance of values, representation, trust, and empathy has grown in email campaign management. Issues such as community safety, gender equality, and diversity are addressed in multiple campaigns by brands. Therefore, reinforcing brand values is crucial to the marketing campaigns of brands to remind the users that they care about people. 

Top 5 high converting email examples

1. Mailmunch

mailmunch email design

2. Spotify

spotify email

3. Apple

iphone email design

4. J. Crew Factory

j crew email design

5. Trulia

Design your email with Mailmunch

Mailmunch, being a comprehensive lead generation and email marketing tool, lets you collect email addresses, and send them optimized, fully responsive emails using an intuitive drag and drop builder. You do not require coding or any technical expertise. You can customize pre-built, professionally designed email templates for marketing your offers, and send your email campaigns to your target audience segments. 

Track and analyze the results of your campaign as well, to A/B test performance, improving your email marketing strategy. 

Start exploring Mailmunch today! 

Email Design FAQs

What makes a good email design?

An attractive email design which dictates clearly what a user should check out first using a logical hierarchy for easy skimming, is said to be good. 

What is an email design template?

Templates let you customize the format and email text. These email templates can be text-only, or HTML and text. 

What is a responsive email design?

Responsive email designs offer the user content that is customized. You can send such emails that change, depending on the screen size to accommodate the content.


Free tool for email marketing, Try Mailmunch now!
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Author Bio

Aqsa Mughees

Aqsa Mughees works as a Content Lead at Mailmunch with 5+ years of experience in creative content strategy. With a grip in digital content creation for the tech industry and an undying love for writing, she is crazy about helping businesses grow through content marketing.


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