Given that 2019 will continue to be another year of email dominance over other channels, the prediction is that more than 2225.3 billion emails in total will be sent out this year! Understanding the complete anatomy of email template design best practices can be a complex game for your organization. So, how would level-up your game in this year to launch best email template design practices for your email marketing campaigns?

One of the best thing about using an email service provider (ESP), even if you don’t consider yourself to be an expert designer is that you can easily create amazing email designs.

With drag and drop editing and customizable newsletter templates, you can quickly create emails that follow the best practices of email design, matches with your brand, and make your company look professional in every inbox.

But even though the ESPs make it super easy to create emails that look amazing, there are still some critical email design best practices you need to be aware of and keep in mind. Even the smallest email design mistakes that are quite simple to fix, can have a huge impact on whether or not your subscribers pay attention to your emails.

It’s quite distressing to see plummeting click-through rates (CTR) after all the tiring hours and efforts put in towards an email marketing campaign. With more and more small business entities focusing on email marketing as an effective marketing channel, there has been a significant upsurge in the average number of emails received by a person within a day. This is the reason towards those plummeting CTRs and the best way to make a difference is by optimizing your email designs to get maximum engagement with your subscribers.

To help you avoid any possible setbacks, the following are 13 design mistakes to watch out for:

Inconsistent messaging or templates:

If you regularly change the style, look, and voice of your email messages, you attract a huge risk of confusing your subscribers and the possibility of unsubscribes from them. However, your headline, email subject line, images, and body copy will change with every email campaign, but the elements like your brand logo, tone, color scheme and the location of your contact information should stay the same campaign to campaign.

To ensure that your emails are consistent is quite simple with an email editor. Just edit the default layout to fit the style and branding of your company, and then simply save the design to be used in your upcoming email marketing campaigns. On the other hand, you may find it necessary to implement mirror tweaks to your email template to keep your campaigns fresh, there should be clearly recognizable elements in each of your emails. And without any consistency, your loyal subscribers may get an email from you, glance at it, then without realizing it’s one of yours email they unsubscribe from your mailing list, just because at first glance your email looked nothing like the last emails they’d received.

Forgetting about branding:

Your subscribers should be able to instantly recognize your company as soon as they open your email. This will help you to connect with your subscribers and make your brand look professional the inbox.

The following are three simple ways to brand your emails:

  • Use images of your business, people, and products: Include real images that show the work that you’re doing every day.
  • Be consistent with branding colors and logo: Your logo should be positioned at the top of your email and the colors you use should fit your brand.
  • Use consistent language: Use a consistent tone in the content that you write.

Using hard-to-read fonts:

Using many different fonts will make your emails look messy and distract your subscribers from the message that you’re trying to get across. So, avoid using more than two or three different fonts in the email s you send out to your subscribers.

When selecting fonts for your email campaign, you have many choices to choose from like between Serif and Serif fonts. The Serif fonts are identified by the small curls at the end of each letter and are considered to be more traditional.

When you are creating content to be viewed online, use Sans Serif fonts as they are much easier to read than the Serif fonts. Also try using some common fonts like Helvetica, Arial, or Verdana. These fonts are very compatible and highly legible among many other less standard fonts.

Some other considerations for fonts:

  • Font size: Use 12-16pt for body copy and 22-24pt for header text.
  • Amount of text: A leading ESP recently found that 20 lines of text result in the highest click-through rates.

Adding the wrong colors:

Adding too many colors in your emails can be very distracting and also makes your emails looks unprofessional.

Colors that are unrecognizable and off-brand can cause confusion to the people and lead them to delete or ignore your messages.

Instead, try to stick to 2-3 colors that align better with your brand.

And if you don’t know your exact brand colors, then you can use tools like Digital Color Meter or Color Cop that allow users to pull the RGB or Hex value of the colors in your logo or on your website.

Forgetting to organize:

People quickly scan emails and make snap decisions about whether the message is relevant to them. And if you want your emails to better connect with your subscribers, you need to ensure your email content is organized well and structures so that it’s easy to read.

Ideally, you should have just one primary piece of information you want to get across to your subscribers and no more than two or three secondary messages. Although, your primary message should be the first thing your subscribers should see when they open your email.

You should start with a header message that helps to set up the content your subscribers are going to read. And the copy that follows should be concise and clear. So, replace any lengthy paragraph with quick sentences that easily let people know about what you are doing, why it’s important to them and most importantly what actions you’d like them to take after they read your emails.

Not using or misusing images:

You should use eye catching images in your emails that attract your subscribers and makes them want to pay close attention.

You can use your own photos- your products, staff, or place of business. You can also choose a stock photo that fits with your brand and supports your message.

Be careful not to overcrowd your email with images. A recent analysis of more than two million emails from leading ESP customers found that emails with three or less than three images result in the highest CTR.

Not adding relevant links and buttons:

You should include at least one relevant link in your email to drive your subscribers to any of your online properties like social media pages, blogs, or website.

Be careful not to overcrowd your email with links. A recent analysis of leading ESP customer emails found that after five to seven links, additional links results in minimal additional click-through.

When adding a link in your emails to your website, you should drive your subscribers to the most relevant page for the action you want them to take. Example, if you want someone to buy a product, don’t send them to your website home page, instead, send them directly to your product page.

Not focusing on the color palette:

Close to 90% of the reasons why consumers buy a product is because of the colored adverts. And for email templates, colors play a huge role in understanding the reasons that result in an increased open rate.

Example, Yellow is a color that defines popular ESP brand MailChimp or Red is a color that defines popular online platforms Netflix or YouTube. These are well known to be eye-catching and can be used to easily highlight critical elements within the email. And the color palette you select should clearly define your brand identity, and your subscribers should be able to easily recall your brand from the emails you sent them.

Using All Caps or Spammy Words:

Your branding should take the upper hand when you are doing your emails template design optimization. Reflecting your brand identity in your email template design is very important. The first tip is to avoid using all Caps in your email subject line, keep it short, simple, and to the point.

When you use all Caps in your subject line, it is more like shouting out loud. It not just hampers the readability and makes it all too loud. Instead, use a capital letter at the beginning of the sentence or for short string of words or for pronouns that need more emphasis. This will make your email template design look much better. After all, this is how people are used to reading emails.

Meanwhile, the spammy words like “Address on CD”, “4U”, etc., are a huge turnoff. People are not be fooled in this age and time. And the moment you avoid using those words will only improve the quality of your email template design.

Not allowing users to Unsubscribe:

This is also very important, and you should consider this as an email marketing mandate. On the other hand, failing to offer your subscribers an easy way to unsubscribe from your email list, they may end up marking your email as spam. This affects your email deliverability and sender reputation, you don’t want this to happen. So, ensure your email template design helps your subscribers easily locate this option. The best place to add an unsubscribe link is in the footer of your email, preferably with your physical address.

Not optimizing the ‘To’ and ‘From’ fields:

These areas should be optimized to personalize your emails, even though they may look not that important. So, add your company name in the “From Name” field and use a valid address in the “From Address” field and the “To” field should have the name of your subscribers. These small tips can help you go a long way to start better engagements with your subscribers.

Settling for a Non-Responsive Email Template:

How many emails in total are opened on the mobile device varies based on certain factors like the type of email (newsletter, direct sale), age of the email recipient, type of product or industry, etc. Although email open rates are affected by a number of factors and different sources report a range of email open rates on mobile, following are a few overall conclusion we can draw;

  • Email open rates on mobile devices are significantly higher among younger generations than older audiences
  • Majority of the reports on email open rates concludes that mobile is responsible for at least 50% of all opens
  • B2B, IT, and wholesale businesses have the lowest mobile email opens, while events, radio/TV/film, and real estate are some of the top benefactors of mobile email campaigns
  • Mobile users check their email 3x more

So, it is very important to keep the email template design layout as a single column and make not increase the width by 500×600 px. This will help your emails easily readable on mobiles. And if you add CTAs or buttons or even links, ensure they are in the resolution of 44×44 px.

Based on a survey by Email on Acid, it has been concluded that more email marketers are opting for responsive email template design as compared to the fluid hybrid design. While eMarketer revealed that close to 20% of the respondents of this survey of 3500 US marketing professionals use both responsive email template design and fluid hybrid designs. The same report by eMarketer also revealed that close to 60% of the respondents opted for responsive email template design.

Ignoring mobile:

Your email needs to look great on any device, regardless of their screen size. And when it comes to optimizing your email template designs for mobile devices, don’t forget that you’re working with a much smaller screen—much.

There’s an art to creating an email that your customers will want to open and read. And the simplest way to look good in a mobile inbox is to switch to a mobile responsive email template.


Don’t worry! All it takes is some simple tweaks to improve your email template design and make them look much better. And by implementing all the small changes to the design of your email template, you’ll have more subscribers engaging with your emails and a better ROI from your email marketing investment.

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