How to design a great email

by | Tue 30 Jul, 19

Email marketing is an essential tool to any business who wants to achieve the best connection to their audience and customers. The beauty of it is that it feeds your subscribers the information they have subscribed to. Because of this, email marketing still proves to be the most effective digital marketing tactic around.

The problem is that, due to its success, more and more companies are using it to market themselves. With the amount of daily email traffic filling up the inboxes of everyone around the globe, the battle to stand out has become a much tougher affair. Thankfully, MailNinja – your friendly neighbourhood email experts – are here to provide you with some simple, but crucial, points to help you on your way to stand out from the crowd.


Let’s begin with one of the most important parts of any email design. Your layout can be make-or-break when it comes to keeping the reader engaged.

The most important thing to remember in all of this is to prioritise your messages. The most important information should always be the first thing your reader sees, as this is what is going to grab their attention. Your logo, primary CTA and key messages should always be above the fold as they are going to be the first thing your reader sees before deciding whether or not they want to scroll down.

Readability is another big factor to consider when designing your email. Lots of white space, clear text and few buttons help the reader navigate easily. A small, but useful, tip is to keep your text left aligned – especially if there is a large amount of copy. Think of it like a book; trying to read Lord of the Rings when each page has centralised text? Not fun.


Following on from the importance of layouts, let’s focus on the use of your call-to-action. The primary CTA should always be above the fold. It’s the main drive for enticing readers into interacting with your campaign, so it stands that this should be the first thing people want to click on.

There are a number of ways you can enhance the presence of your CTA.

Colour: Use this to your advantage. A bright, eye-catching, bold colour makes it pop from the page and immediately forces attention on to it.

Buttons: Following on from the previous point, buttons are a perfect way to inject a splash of colour. These tend to be the most popular form of CTA.

Font: Like the colour, a good use of font can really make the CTA pop! Choose quick, short phrases that make the user want to click through. Examples of such might include ‘buy now’ and ‘see more’. Make the font bold and obvious – capitalising your message or adding an underline to it can also help.

Don’t go overboard: Because of their effectiveness, it can be tempting to litter your email with as many CTAs as you can fit. If you find yourself tempted to do this, always remember that less is more. The reader already has a choice to make for each CTA they encounter – to click or not to click. Try not to overwhelm them with choice. Usually one is enough, but if more are required use different size or colour CTAs to help prioritise the most important ones.

Colour choice

Good colour choices can be extremely effective in creating a visually interesting and engaging email. This is a chance to really express your brand identity and combine it with important information that you want to feed to your audience. As mentioned earlier, a CTA can be a great place to add some colour to draw attention to it, and combining it with your brand identity can be a great way to reinforce your message.

Be sure to check your colour combinations work. As effective as it can be, poorly chosen colours sat next to one another lead to an eyesore. Try to limit your palette to two or three colours used throughout your campaign, and choose ones that compliment each other well.


One of the most frustrating parts of email campaign design is making sure it displays correctly on all platforms. Something that is often overlooked or misunderstood is the use of fonts in email design.

You may have chosen your brand’s fonts to look excellent when producing a banner, leaflet or booklet. But issues can arise when translating this onto a web-based format. All browsers, devices and email service providers are different, and issues become apparent when testing an email’s responsiveness on multiple platforms. To assure yourself that your text will be supported no matter how it is viewed, choose a web-safe font for the copy of your emails.

Additionally, keep your titles bigger than your body copy to help clearly distinguish sections. An ideal title size might be something like 32px, and 16px for body copy.

Another thing to bear in mind is not using too many different fonts. As with colour, limit it 2 or 3 variations at most and make sure they work well together.

Avoid information overload

With the steps above, you are well on your way to drafting up an eye-catching email to entice your audience with the content they love. However, all this hard work can amount to nothing if your email ends up as a mess of words.

Too much information will overload anyone reading it, and immediately signal their brain to switch off and ignore your message.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t give your viewers a variety of content for them to read, it just means that you have to think of another way to present it. An excellent solution to this is by breaking down your messages into multiple campaigns. In doing this, each campaign can be tailored with dedicated colour schemes and subjects to keep them looking fresh and distinguished from one another, whilst remaining relevant and on-brand.

Image and text balance

This goes back to our initial point of choosing layouts wisely, but is also coupled with the information you want to convey. If you are stuck with how to cut down copy or make your email more engaging, think about adding in some images to do the talking for you.

A good text to image ratio can keep your email to-the-point and work well with colours to produce a visually engaging piece. Something that should be kept in mind is to not overload your email with images. Aside from it becoming more of a visual mess, it can also lead to the email becoming very heavy which causes problems with them not loading or displaying properly.

When it comes to images; keep them big enough to make an impact on the page, but not too big that there is no white space left to breathe; think about the best format to save them as that keeps them compressed but does not compromise its quality to become unviewable; and make sure they are relevant to the accompanying text or message.


The final point to end on is one that can be a wonderful time saver. You’ve designed your email campaigns, sorted the layout and got the colour scheme on point. Imagine having to do this every time you want to make a new email.

Fortunately, templates are there to make sure that all your relevant information and assets can quickly be slotted in, ready to be tested and then sent out in a fraction of the time it would take for you to build everything from scratch.

They can also provide brand consistency across all your campaigns, as well as offer a variety of modules depending on what is most appropriate to be used in conjunction with the provided information.

Templates can always be updated as well, so if a new module is ever needed it can quickly be created and then re-used whenever it is necessary.

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