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The Email Design Best Practices You Need to Know

The Email Design Best Practices You Need to Know

When it comes to designing marketing emails, there is no magic formula that will bring you amazing results all at once. But the design of your emails is certainly an important factor. Your headline, copy, and call to action will be wasted if your design isn’t appealing to your email subscribers. You have to carefully consider many different aspects of your email design to make sure your messages are as effective as they can be.

While there isn’t a magic formula, there are a few things you can do to ensure your marketing emails are as effective as possible. This article includes some important email design best practices for you to consider before putting together your next marketing campaign.

Learn why top brands trust Salesforce to help them drive success with email — and how you can manage customer journeys at scale using data from any source.
Your email design starts with what people see right away: the subject line. Your email subject should be something that grabs your subscribers’ attention and gets them interested enough to keep reading. Make it informative so that it offers something of value, but not so long that it gives away too much or reduces your readers’ interest. The ideal email subject should be a good, interesting summary that tells people what they can expect from reading your email in the fewest possible characters.

Remember, your email subject isn’t the only thing a subscriber sees when they see your email in their inbox. The other elements likely to show up are your name (or the sender’s name) and a snippet of the beginning of your email. Those elements are also important when it comes to getting subscribers to actually read your emails.

You may choose to keep your “From” name the same throughout all of your emails for consistency, or consider using that opportunity to get even more specific about what consumers can expect from your email. For example, you could use something like your brand name followed by “Deals” to show subscribers that it’s an email that includes information about discounts or coupons.

Keep in mind that the sender’s name field should always include your brand name or something recognizable so subscribers know exactly who sent the email, and that it’s from a sender they trust and subscribe to. Then, the first line of your email can be another opportunity to pique subscribers’ interest about what your email has to offer.

Today’s consumers don’t use the same types of devices, and not all of your subscribers will open emails on desktop computers. More people are using mobile devices to manage emails and read online content. Your email campaigns need to appeal to people reading on devices ranging from large desktop monitors to smartphone screens.

Making your emails responsive can be a great solution. Responsive design means that the email contracts and expands based on the size of the screen on the device used, but is still readable and includes all of the essential design elements.

Photos give you the opportunity to brand your emails, make them more visually interesting, and get subscribers interested in your offerings. Regardless of what you want your photos to accomplish, you need to make sure they display properly in emails.

Photos and graphics should have excellent resolution no matter their size and high quality enough to get a point across — but not so large that they slow down your email’s load time. You should also consider whether or not they actually add something essential to your emails. If you’re just using them to take up space, you may be slowing down the loading process and wasting valuable real estate. You can see more specifications about header and email image recommendations here.

Your emails aren’t just about getting information across to consumers. They can also convey an image and a feeling, especially with the colors you use. Use an intentional color scheme that conveys your branding and meshes well with the content of your email. Integrate colors through images, buttons, headers, text, backgrounds, and other elements.

You need a plan for the colors you want to include in your emails: How do you want to add those colors? Consider color psychology in your decisions. For instance, too much red or orange can make your readers feel anxious, while blues and greens can create a sense of calm. Know how you want your subscribers to feel when they open your emails and use color to help you create those feelings.

The language and voice you use in your emails create a feeling and brand image that can make your emails stand out. The general tone and voice you use should be consistent throughout email campaigns and all other brand materials so loyal customers and subscribers feel a strong connection to your brand — and so they can tell when they’re reading something from you without even seeing who the email is from.

Vary your tone depending on the subject of your email. For example, if you’re sharing news about your company’s biggest promotion of the year, you can sound more excited than usual. But your general voice should be consistent throughout your emails and other marketing materials.

Each email you send to your list should have a goal. Maybe you want to get people to sign up for a new trial service. Perhaps you’re promoting a new product or trying to move older products as part of a clearance sale. Make your goal clear through calls to action within your email.

Even when you include a call to action, some subscribers won’t find it if you don’t make it stand out. Colorful buttons and bold text can bring attention to your calls to action, and if you’re able to get that attention, you’re that much closer to helping people take the action that will help your campaign reach its goal. That can make it easier for your business to achieve its marketing milestones.

When designing your emails, put yourself in your subscribers’ shoes in order to realize the biggest possible impact. Think about where your customers may be when they get your email, as well as what kinds of obstacles they could face when they read it and try to take engage with call-to-action buttons. For example, your emails may be responsive, but if your website — where customers have to go to complete the conversion — isn’t, that could present problems for your subscribers and customers.

Reconsider your strategy. If you think subscribers will revisit your email when they’re at a desktop computer, you’re likely to be disappointed. Make sure you’re able to anticipate consumer behavior in relation to your emails and calls to action, and consider any obstacles you need to remove to make the process easier.


When you’ve developed all of these elements, you should have a clear view of what your marketing emails look like. However, even if you come up with a strategy that works in theory, you need to see the finished campaign before you know for sure the design will mesh with your brand and your goals.

Before you send an email, preview the design and make sure all the different elements mesh well together. When you’re happy with the aesthetics, and after you test to make sure it displays properly, you can be confident when you send your emails and see great results.

See insights on successful email strategies from Marketing Cloud customers.

Like anything else in business, finding the best email design for your company is an ongoing process. You’ll likely need to make adjustments over time to keep your subscribers happy and interested. Analytics data can provide insights about the effectiveness of your email designs. If you find conversion rates are consistently higher on emails that use just one or two photos, or if you see the highest open rates when you use a certain format for subject lines, take those metrics as signs you’re doing something right. Make sure you constantly review your results to find the email design best practices that work for your brand.

Designing your emails is an important part of the marketing process that cannot be overlooked or disregarded. With the right strategy and the email design best practices, you can be confident that you’re sending out emails that are going to bring in great results.