Email marketing is an effective way to reach new customers while keeping current clients engaged and interested. It is a well-known fact that returning customers are more valuable to a firm than newly acquired customers and email marketing is one way to stay connected to existing customers between purchases.

Email marketing, when done right, can generate a return on investment (ROI) of 4400% on average, making it a high reward marketing method.

Of course, those impressive stats are only possible if you’re adhering to well-curated email marketing practices.

Start with the basics: The email’s design is critical in attracting the reader. A well-designed email will ensure the audience stays on the page. Having catchy CTAs is what will be another requirement to make them perform the desired action like click on the link and check out new products.

Designing Emails can get tricky and overwhelming for first-timers. There are so many variations in design and every small change can make a big difference in an email’s marketing effectiveness. But knowing what design features are a must and how to design them can make your job as a marketer a bit easier.

Read on for the seven best email design practices that all marketers should follow.

1. Get to the Priority Inbox

Priority Inbox

An effective email campaign requires more than simply getting your message into the intended recipient’s inbox. You want to ensure that the email lands in their priority inbox and not in promotions, updates, or the spams folder.

The worst-case scenario for any marketing campaign would be the mails ending up in the spam folder of the recipients in the mailing list. There are ways to avoid this though.

First and foremost you need to ensure the email design is not an in-your-face promotional piece. The design should be kept simple and subtle for the email to not be flagged yet impressive and engaging enough to keep the recipient interested.

A relevant sign-off is also an important feature that your marketing email must contain along with a personalized greeting intended for the recipient. This trick the mailing services’ algorithms into considering your marketing emails as personal emails,

Other things to look out for are ensuring you use a proper recognizable sender name, avoiding ALL CAPS, and ensuring you do not use any spam trigger words that will result in your marketing email being flagged as spam.

Email deliverability rate — also referred to as email acceptance rate — refers to how successful an email marketer is in getting their messages delivered. To calculate Email Acceptance Rate, divide the number of delivered emails by the total number of emails sent initially.

Email Acceptance Rate is a good performance indicator of the effectiveness of your marketing email design. You can multiply the Email Acceptance Rate by 100 and convert it into an easy-to-understand and track measurement of success. There are plenty of tools available to measure email deliverability. Some mainstream tools are:

  • Spam Check By Postmark
  • GlockApps

2. Design the Inbox Itself First

You’ve taken all the steps to make sure your email lands in the priority inbox.

Congratulations! What now?

Well, how does your email appear in the inbox? You still need the recipient to click on the email and open it if they’re going to read it.

You want to ensure that your email’s appearance within the inbox itself is appealing and doesn’t bore people. The sender and subject line should be clear and concise. Avoid all caps or excessive punctuation like exclamation points or question marks.

Good email design

Image Source: Really Good Emails

Additionally, the first sentence of your email should ideally be visible in the preview pane in the person’s inbox. It’s critical to understand exactly how your email will look in the inboxes of Gmail subscribers and in those of people using other email services.

Many tools can help towards this end. Some popular email preview tools are:

  • SendX
  • GetResponse
  • Mail Ninja
  • Campaign Monitor
  • Inbox Analyzer
  • IBM Email Optimization

Use these tools to test your design with every email inbox tool you can think of.

3. Know What Length Is Best

Even the length of your email makes a difference in how well it’s received and whether the recipient opens it. There are some best practice rules to keep in mind regarding the sender, subject, and email body length.

  • For the email sender name, keep it short.
  • Don’t go over 20 to 30 characters, ideally. The sender, also called the “from name,” is displayed in the inbox alongside the sender’s email address (which includes the @ and the relevant mailbox domain).
  • When it comes to email subject length, rules vary depending on the product. For Gmail, Thunderbird, and Outlook, about 130 characters is a good rule of thumb to follow. For ticketing products like Jira, you should be okay with up to 255 characters.
  • For the email body, try to keep the message to a maximum of 125 words. For the body text, follow the same basic rules as to when creating a landing page for a website or an app. Use a simple font and branded header, and keep it simple for pictures, animations, emojis, and similar gimmicks.

4. Have Your CEO Make a Personal Video Message

A new trend has emerged in the field of email marketing in recent years. Marketers came up with the idea of handing out an additional responsibility to the CEO of their firms. That responsibility was engaging in PR activities that would even benefit the email marketing runs of the firm.

CEOs’ were asked to shoot videos addressing their customer base for various purposes. Be it introducing a new product line or holiday greetings, these video messages in emails had a huge positive impact on the effectiveness of many market leaders.

This small step got the existing customers invested more emotionally into the brands. Having what seemed like a personal interaction with the person running the brand did wonders for the marketing efforts of the brands. CEOs went from being at the helm of the firm to being at the helm and being the face of the firm at the same time.

Is this trend still relevant and timely now?


Consumers love video formats, with 85% of internet users watching online videos every month. In 2021, having your CEO make a personal video message can be a great way to connect with your customers. Of course, the key to success is in how you present the video.

There are a few more ways you can leverage your CEO for video messages. They might provide insights into the company’s culture, offer thought leadership, or highlight industry trends. Frequently asked question (FAQ) videos are also hugely popular.

5. Design for Mobile Device Screens

As a marketer planning to run an email marketing campaign, you cannot just consider desktop users while designing your marketing emails. People have been using other devices to access their emails too. Smartphones, Tablets, smart wearables, and even smartwatches are now capable of handling emails.

This makes it necessary as a marketer to design the marketing emails in such a manner that they’re easy to view and interact with regardless of the platform they’re being viewed from.

These days, some 47% of people use a mobile device to check their email. You will alienate almost half of your readership if your email doesn’t present well on the mobile screen.

You can also use most of the email presentation testing tools described above to check mobile presentations. Tools like MailChimp let you preview messages for both desktop and mobile formats before sending.

Email design for mobile

When reviewing the email, make sure that the font is large enough to read on a small screen and that the images aren’t distorted. You want to use responsive content whenever you’re using HTML or images, ensuring that there aren’t any viewing issues on a smaller screen.

Other best practices when designing email for mobile include:

  • Using mobile-friendly links
  • Implementing a single-column design
  • Keeping text flush to the left of the screen
  • Making any call-to-action (CTA) clear and prominent

Finally, make sure that whatever landing page your email links to is also mobile-friendly. You don’t want the reader to follow the CTA only to end up on a webpage that isn’t mobile-friendly and that they will then likely quickly click away from.

This will ultimately interfere with the success of your email marketing campaign, decreasing conversions.

6. Create Beautiful Visual Design

Ultimately, the goal of any email marketing campaign is a conversion. You want the reader to take a specific action, like clicking a link.

The design makes a big difference as to whether this happens or not. Use a clear, easy-to-read font, taking into account the latest typography trends. For example, block letters are a great way to catch the eye.

Cooper Bold was a font that was widely used in marketing materials back in the mid 20th century. Recently this font has been trending as it generates positive impressions. So keep an eye out, you never know what legacy font or design language may make a comeback.

Fonts for your email

Image Source: Really Good Emails

Look to general trends beyond fonts as well.

Nostalgia and geometric patterns are a significant marketing trend in 2021. Opt for vintage-inspired images that evoke a traditional photograph, for example. This can make for a dreamy and romantic look.

Another design philosophy that has been trending for a few years is minimalism and pastel shades. Look at Apple and Google, both firms are championing these design philosophies and their influences can be seen not only in their product lineups but also in their marketing emails.

The colors you use in your emails are another critical consideration. Monochromatic color schemes with shades of red with pink or various grey tones are trendy. You can also use a color wheel to match hues, like yellow and green or red and orange.

When designing your CTA, consider implementing images to attract the reader’s attention. Animations are another option. However, make sure to keep animations subtle and straightforward. Otherwise, you risk having the animation overpower the actual message of the email’s content.

Further, you don’t want the animation to slow the email loading time and interfere with accessibility. Too many images and animations can negatively impact download speed and possibly interfere with deliverability, as discussed above.

7. Understand How Your Customers Interact

Finally, you don’t want to send your emails into the void and then hope for the best.

The great thing about email marketing is that you can track its success using precise, measurable metrics. The same tools you use to test your email displays, measure deliverability, etc can often gather more granular data, such as click rates or customer feedback responses from surveys.

Customer engagement on email

At present, data is what crude oil was to the world in the 20th century. It is the most valuable resource that enables you to do things differently, a type of difference that helps you stand out and be successful.

The data that you collect after an email marketing campaign has completed its run is valuable to your firm and future marketing campaigns. This data not only reflects how effective your campaign was overall but also highlights how each element of your email marketing design did.

Knowing these things offers a distinct advantage to you while planning and designing future email marketing campaigns. The design elements that worked well can be reutilized and those that did not work well enough can be tweaked and tested this time around. Eventually, using this method, you will end up with a design that’s the absolute best for your marketing requirements.

Further segmentation and personalization of emails will only improve the odds of finding success in future email marketing campaigns.

With segmentation, you can tailor emails to specific types of customers at different stages of the sales funnel, increasing the odds of getting your desired conversion.

With personalization, you can write emails as if they were speaking to the individual personally. For example, you can personalize messages according to the individual’s name, gender, or geographic location.

This creates a more human and less robotic effect.

The Final Word on Email Design Best Practices

Email Marketing is quite rudimentary when compared to the latest types of digital marketing approaches but it still is a workhorse for the Digital Marketing Industry. All you need is to carefully design your marketing emails and success is guaranteed.

A well-organized, professionally designed email can captivate new customers and keep current customers interested and engaged. There are an estimated 3.9 billion daily email users, making this an excellent way to expand the reach and increase impact.

Companies that implement effective email design best practices can expect high ROI.

This article and every tip and trick mentioned herein are enough to get you to understand the dos and don’ts of email marketing design. If you’ve read through the article carefully, you’ll be fully prepared to parachute out and hit the ground running with your knowledge of email design.

To have you started even quicker you can even opt to use and customize already available email templates and employ email marketing tools to design high-quality and effective marketing emails.

Seasoned marketers may advise you to not opt for email marketing tools but we suggest you give them a go. These tools are specialized and help you fasten your workflow while ensuring your designs are good and effective in terms of marketing prowess.

These email marketing tools even enable you to measure the track of various email marketing performance metrics such as open rates and clicks.

You can then run a campaign and determine how well your email marketing design works and what elements need more work in order to be more effective.