Email Design Best Practices – 5 Ways to Improve Email Templates

By Kevin George

Email is one of the most powerful tools in your digital marketing strategy. There is no doubt about the fact that it is widely used by brands and businesses across the world to promote their offers and boost conversions. According to Statista, the average number of emails sent and received per day in 2019 was 294 billion, and it is expected to rise to over 347 billion daily emails in 2023.

The customers’ inbox is cluttered than ever, and to get your emails to be opened and read, it is necessary to craft winning emails that stand out in the inbox. Designing perfect emails is not just about using the right images or content, but about getting even the minute details right from the sender name to the links in the footer right. So, what does it take to create perfect emails?

Here are the top email design best practices that every brand and email marketer must follow while designing and coding custom email templates.

Customise the Sender Name, Subject Line and Preheader Text

First Impressions Count! The design of your email begins at the inbox. The sender name, subject line, and preheader text are the first things that the users notice. It is therefore important to make it look genuine and recognizable.

Sender name: Make your emails look familiar by adding your brand name to the sender name. Also, use the same sender name in all your emails, to avoid being caught by spam filters.

Subject line: Your subject line must be crisp and short, yet informative. Limit the number of characters to 50 or less and use it to highlight the most important part of your message. Feel free to experiment using emojis and catchy phrases to entice users to open the email.

Preheader text: The preheader text is the extension of the subject line and can be used to add contextual value to the subject line. Make sure you customize the preheader text, as it helps in boosting open rates.

Visual Hierarchy – Have a Proper Flow

The arrangement of content and placement of design elements matters a lot in making the email design perfect. Follow a proper visual hierarchy and maintain the flow of content in a way that tells the users a story and guides them to take the desired action. The colors, images, font styles, buttons, and placement of other design elements play a vital role in establishing a proper visual hierarchy. Make the logo of your email prominent and include the main message in the hero image. The first fold of your email should give users all the information and entice them to click through.

Visual hierarchy is important to make your emails relatable and accessible for all. Therefore, depict important elements and parts of your message using bigger design elements and larger fonts. Use enough white space in a way that it communicates in a clear, concise, and organized way for everyone, including the users who are visually impaired. Also, use a prominent and contrasting CTA that stands out from the rest of the elements, like in this minimalistic email from Adobe.

Source: Really Good Emails

Do you want to create similar emails? Download free Mailchimp templates, Pardot templates or Salesforce templates that follow the rules of visual hierarchy and design.

Add Interactivity to Engage Users

In order to make a mark in the subscriber’s inbox and get them to engage with your emails, you need to make them highly interactive. Use elements such as hamburger menus, surveys and polls, rollover effects, animated effects and buttons, carousels, accordion, offer reveals and add to cart functionality, that would turn your emails into microsites. This will improve the chances of engagement as the users need not leave the email to complete the actions. All you need to have is an email template and some HTML and CSS skills to create pitch-perfect interactive emails.

Check out this email from Google that looks like a microsite and allows the user to select and view various color variations of their product within the email. It also features an add to cart functionality that allows the users to choose the quantity and shows the order value. Check out the live email here.

Source: Really Good Emails

Add Personalization

We are transitioning from machine-to-human marketing to a human-to-human marketing approach. The traditional approach of sending generic one-to-many emails does not work anymore. Hence, it is important to follow proper segmentation and targeting to create tailored content for each individual user. When you send emails with content that changes dynamically based on the users’ interests, preferences, and behaviors, the conversions improve.

Check out this personalized product recommendation email from Forever 21.

Source: Really Good Emails

Check the Email Footer

Your email footer should have links to the main parts of your website, social sharing options, an unsubscribe link and an option to forward the email to a friend. This will make it easy for the users to share your email with their friends or on social media, and also allow them to easily unsubscribe whenever they want.

Here’s how a well-designed email footer looks like.

Source: Really Good Emails


Follow these best practices to create well-designed emails that will increase the open rates and click-through rates, build brand identity, boost conversions, reduce spam rates, and eventually improve your business ROI.


The Author

Kevin George

Kevin George is Head of Marketing at Email Uplers - email marketing agency that specializes in crafting email templates and PSD to HTML email conversion services. He enjoys sharing his insights and thoughts.


    October 27, 2020 4:06 pm
    Maybe the links to the free templates are missing? I'd really like some templates for Pardot... Thanks!
    Pravin Shewale
    November 04, 2020 2:05 pm
    Hi, I used that product carousel into the email template... and it's working fine at my local machine but, not working fine when email got triggered. can anyone help me regarding this.

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