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How To Design an Effective Email Marketing Template in 2023

Sofie Koevoets
Sofie Koevoets12 min read
Marketing Tips to Design Effective Emails - Superside

Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach out to your target audience and promote your business. However, with users facing cluttered inboxes, your emails need to be at the top of their design game.

But how do you create a top-tier email marketing campaign?

If your business requires a lot of customer communication, it can be difficult to retain a high level of quality with each email. Our advice? Start designing your own newsletter templates. Or, if you don’t have the time or resources to develop this in-house, you can also outsource this work to experts in email design (like Superside!).

Here's what you'll learn:

Why You Should Consider an Email Template Design
Things to Consider Before Designing an Email Template
4 Key Elements Your Email Template Should Include
12 Design Tips for Your Email Template
How to Put it All Together

Why You Should Consider an Email Template Design

Email templates can save you considerable time and effort. Instead of designing each email from scratch, you can create a clear content structure that allows you to create consistent (and efficient) messages for your customers and community.

Additionally, an email template means that your emails will be consistent, which helps you position your brand in such a way that customers can identify you in an instant. As an extra bonus, templates also have the added benefit of preset email design specs and formats that are optimized for desktop, tablet and mobile. This lets you ignore the need to test and retest your email sizing and legibility across devices.

Things to Consider Before Designing an Email Template

To design an email template, you’ll first need to decide on a format and layout depending on the purpose of the email. Keep the following factors in mind:

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1. The objective of the email

The purpose of your email will significantly impact its design. For example, educational newsletters are often content-heavy, so choose a template design that would allow for digestible paragraphs of copy.

Sales emails, however, promote a product or service on offer, which would require a design that places that front and center. It’s good practice to have a couple of suitable templates for the various different types of emails you use. In email marketing, variety can be your ally. Cycle through these different formats (while retaining your brand aesthetic) to keep your email marketing campaigns looking and feeling fresh.

2. Your brand style guide

When you design a template, make sure it is aligned with your brand’s style. Carefully consider the identity of your brand and how this will be communicated before you start designing. Work within your brand style guide to keep your visuals and tone consistent with your brand image.

This means looking at the existing creative elements across your marketing collateral, especially the use of colors, fonts, and imagery. When you start designing, keep referring to your style guide to make sure you’re staying on track.

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Salt brand guidelines. Source: Superside

3. The audience

Your audience will be a big factor in your email newsletter design. Before creating a newsletter template, explore your customer persona and how you can best communicate with them. Once that has been established, you’ll have a person in mind to design for. This will make all design templates appropriate and means you reduce the need to rework your emails when adding the relevant information.

4 Key Elements Your Email Template Should Include

The most fundamental elements of any email template are the placement of the header, body, and a call-to-action (CTA). Email marketing is, after all, a digital marketing channel - the same core ingredients apply.

  1. The header: where you place this (and how much space you give it) in your email is of vital importance. As we mentioned before, your email layout will entirely depend on the nature of your business. If this is a community or newsletter email, the header should not take center stage, but instead, introduce the body of the copy. If this is a promotional or sales-based email, you should see it as your banner: place it as the focal point of your template as it will be your key motivator for your audience.
  2. The body: this contains all the necessary communication you want your customer to have. If the body of an email is content-based, the template should be designed to incorporate ample space for the body copy to fit. If it’s more promotional-based, it should have secondary importance to the header and CTA and just provide the finer details of your message.
  3. The call-to-action button: Regardless of your message or content type, this should be bold and clear. The best practice is to design your CTA to have a bright, sharp and punchy layout. Use the loudest colors from your brand guide in your CTAs: it should be the most eye-catching part of your email.
  4. The extra bits: Your email template should also include your logo in the header and any necessary company information in the footer.
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12 Design Tips for Your Email Template

Whether you’re emailing a customer base or sending out a business-to-business newsletter, you want the end user to open the email, read through it, and engage further. You can achieve this by implementing email design best practices, allowing you to create emails that stand out in an inbox.

Here are 12 tips to help your emails shine out in your customer’s inbox.

1. Pay attention to the design hierarchy

When designing email campaigns, focus on your message and keep your design straightforward. The best way to do this is to lay out all the elements for your campaign in a hierarchy, putting your most important information and relevant CTAs above the fold for customers to quickly and easily scan.

2. Keep it simple

With newsletters, less is more. You want your email to be easy to read and even easier to digest. This means cutting back on content to avoid overloading your emails with too much information or visual elements. Stick to a simple layout with clear headlines, concise information, and strong calls to action.

3. Consider different email formats

There are a few different email formats you can use to add variety to your campaigns and keep your customers engaged. For example, try using a single image with accompanying text or a video email format. Experiment with different layouts, like a grid format or a more traditional newsletter-style email.

Having templatized formats that you can use throughout a campaign means your email marketing will have consistency without feeling stale or repetitive.

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4. Don’t neglect mobile-friendly design

More and more people are reading emails on their mobile devices. In fact, research has shown that over 42% of users will disengage with and delete an email that is not optimized for mobile devices.

Admittedly, not every platform makes designing mobile-friendly emails easy, but it’s worth the work. It is vitally important you make sure your emails are suitable for small screens. The best practices to optimize email for mobile are:

  1. Stick to a single-column layout
  2. Use large fonts and buttons
  3. Keep your email content concise

5. Use eye-catching imagery

Images are a great way to break up text and add visual interest to your email. However, avoid using too many images or images that have a large file size or high resolution. Graphics take longer to load than text and may cause the email to get caught in spam filters. Instead, focus on using a few high-quality (yet low file size) images that complement the content of your email and help tell your story.

6. Use color sparingly

Color is a powerful tool in email marketing, but it's important to use it wisely. While a splash of color can add visual interest to an email, too much of it can make your email hard to read. Stick to a limited color palette and try not to use more than four colors across your email.

Top tip: Use colors that contrast with one another. It is engaging, makes your email easier to read, and is visually stimulating.

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A contrasting color palette Superside designed for Stackwise. Source: Superside

7. Be clever with your fonts

Like color, fonts can also be used to add visual interest to your email. But, like color, less is more. Instead of aiming for a variety of exciting-looking fonts, stick to one main font throughout your email. Using more than one font (or variable font sizes) can make your email look unprofessional, untidy, and difficult to read.

Opt for one or two main fonts in your email design. Ideally, these are the same as the fonts in your brand style guide. Be sure that your font is well-sized and easy to read. If customers struggle to read the body copy of your email, they probably won’t get to the end of the message.

8. Make use of negative space

While vibrant designs are always tempting, don't be afraid to embrace negative space. White space is important in email marketing design for two reasons:

  1. It makes your email easier to read as the color and design aren’t overwhelming the reader’s attention
  2. It helps break up the information on the page and make it more visually appealing

9. Keep your call-to-actions bold and clear

Your call to action is one of the most important elements of your email. It’s the driving force to guide your customer to engage with your business. As such, it is vital to make sure it's clear and easy to find.

Use a striking color and increased font size for your call-to-action button and make sure it is prominent in the email. Additionally, you should always test your call-to-action linking before sending out your email: there are few things more damaging to your customer journey than a broken or incorrect link on a CTA.

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10. Make the subject line punchy

Your subject line is crucial. When your customer opens their inbox, you only have a few seconds to hook them in. Spending time writing a snappy headline will go a long way to increasing the open rate of your emails.

If your subject line doesn't interest your customer, there is a high chance they won’t bother opening it. Make sure your subject line is clear, concise, and catchy and, just as importantly, that it accurately describes the contents of the email.


Top tip: Subject lines with numbers, quantities, and percentages tend to perform better than those without. Emojis, when used sparingly, can add a pop of color and make your subject line stand out.

11. Personalize your emails

Personalization is a great way to make your emails more engaging and relevant to your customers. By including the recipient's name in the subject line or body of the email, you add a touch of personality to your content.

Adding this personal element to your email campaigns can make your customers feel valued, appreciated, and more likely to remain loyal subscribers.

You can also use personalization to segment your list and send targeted emails. For instance, you can send different emails to subscribers who live in different geographical areas and tailor the content to reflect the customer’s interests or location.

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12. Test, test and test again!

Finally, don't forget to test every element of an email before you send it. Click through all of your links and buttons to make sure they work.

Unlike most other online communication, emails cannot be edited once they’ve been posted. Be sure to proofread your email thoroughly to catch any sneaky typos or errors.

Bonus Tip: Test some more!

A/B testing is a great way to find out what your customer is really interested in. Send two emails with one clear differential and track the open rate and click-through rate from both to determine what your customers are more excited to read.

How to Put it All Together

By following best practices for your email marketing design, you can create emails that are both visually outstanding and effective at catching and keeping your customer’s attention.

Get ahead of the competition in 2023 by making emails a prime focus and an essential marketing pillar. If you have any questions about email design, our team of experts at Superside is always happy to help. Get in touch with us today to learn more about our services and get started on your next email campaign.

Published: Dec 26, 2022
Sofie Koevoets
Written by
Sofie Koevoets
Sofie is our SEO Content Manager at Superside. When she isn't answering all SEO questions with "it depends...", she is happily hiking mountains, cuddling kittens or taking lunchtime dips in the ice cold ocean.

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