Email Design Trends 2020 + Examples | W3 Lab

Email Design Trends 2020 + Examples

Email marketing is an important form of marketing. It is cheaper than most and has a high return on investment (according to the Data & Marketing Association, for every $1 you spend, you can expect an average return of $42).

99% of consumers check their email every day and millions of emails are opened every day. It is also one of the marketers’ favorite marketing types, and 59% of them say that email marketing is their biggest source of ROI.

Because of how successful and effective email marketing is, we have decided to write this article and help you with your email design in 2020.

The article will consist of the following points:

  • The benefits of email marketing
  • How to create emails in 3 steps
    1. Basic email design
      • The header
      • The footer
      • The text of the email
    2. Advanced email design – Addition of different elements
    3. Revision of the email and improvements
  • How to increase email conversion rate?
  • How to make sure people open your email?
  • Examples of good email design
  • Plain text emails
    • The pros and cons of plain text emails

Let’s begin.

email marketing
Email marketing | Source

The benefits of email marketing

Before we dive into email creation and composition, let’s look at why email marketing is such an important form of marketing.

The first time people hear about it, they usually scoff, because they think that social media marketing is the most superior form, but this isn’t the case.

There are many reasons why email marketing remains one of the most effective marketing forms, the first one being that more than half the population uses email (this was back in 2019, the number only grew since then).

Email marketing is also highly cost effective, and when compared to social media marketing and traditional marketing, it has the best return on investment, or ROI, and for every $1 spent, the average return is $38.

Additionally, not only does a huge number of the population use email, but they also check it every day, and some even do it every few hours. The process of sending emails to them can also be automated, and there are many services out there that make the whole process much easier, so anyone can do it.

These services will also show you how many of your emails people open, how many links they click, and other useful stats, which means that you can measure the success of your email marketing strategy.

How to create emails in 3 steps

Before we dive into the more detailed stuff and email design, it is important that we first go through the process of creating emails for email marketing and the different elements that emails contain.

You can create any email in 3 steps:

  • Basic email design
  • Advanced email design – addition of different elements
  • Revision of the email and improvements

1. Basic email design

Every email has three elements: header, footer and the text in-between.

The header

As the name suggests, the header is the top part of an email. An email header consists of mostly information, such as the sender, the recipient, the subject, the ‘from’ line (so the recipient knows which business the email is from), as well as the subject line and images.

If done properly, the header can greatly increase open rates and conversion rates.

To make a good header, make sure to include all the information and not leave anything out. When it comes to the image, you can use your logo or a picture of the product you’re promoting.

The subject line is maybe the most important header element – it is often what convinces people to open your email.

yelp email design - yelp email header design
The header of a Yelp email

They can draw people in by evoking their curiosity (10 unexpected ways to get more traffic), urging them by telling them your offer is limited (50% off this weekend only), telling them that you can make their life easier (50 tips for better email marketing) and so on. Click here for a great list of email subject lines.

The footer

Unlike the header, the footer is the part of the email located at the bottom.

Design-wise, it is not as important as the header, because the header plays an important role in getting attention and interest, but this doesn’t mean footers are useless. Here, you can include your email address, a phone number your customers can call if they have any questions, a link to your website, and social media links.

haus email footer design
The footer of a Haus email

Additionally, make sure to include a link that will enable the recipient to unsubscribe if they want to. If, for whatever reason, someone wants to unsubscribe from being on your email list, don’t make the process hard on them. Allow them to unsubscribe via a single click.  

The text of the email

The text between the header and footer largely depends on the type of email.

There are welcome emails, which welcome the person who just subscribed, post-purchase emails, which you send to your customers after they’ve made a purchase to confirm it, re-engagement emails, which are all about trying to regain the interest of the subscriber, cart abandonment reminder emails that remind subscribers about the items they have in their carts but never purchased and many others.

Let’s look at three great copy examples and what makes them good:

This is a great example of good text in email design.

The first line greets you, indicating the type of email that you’re about to read.

The content then tells you what you can expect now that you’ve subscribed – exclusive offers, first access and recipes.

Additionally, the language is simple and conversational.

litmus promotional email - email design example
Litmus promotional email – email design example

This promotional email is short and informative. It highlights all the benefits of the new platform – fast performance and useful features, which are the most important information to the recipient.

The text is very cheerful, as well as informative. Aside from the nice wishes, it includes a few short and interesting sentences on how other people that are the recipient’s age are doing.

There are two call-to-action buttons – one for tips on how to have a healthy and happy day, and another one for seeing the recipient’s Fitbit stats.

2. Advanced email design – Addition of different elements

Now that we’ve seen the basic elements that every email should contain, it’s time to look at the elements that are unique to certain emails.

After you come up with your header, footer and the text, you will have to include the other elements that will give the recipient more information and make your email look better.

As there are dozens of email types, we will go through some of the most used ones and the elements of their email design.

When it comes to welcome emails, it is good to introduce yourself and what your business does, as well as tell your new subscriber what kinds of updates they will be receiving now that they’ve subscribed. Businesses often include a special offer or a gift card in these, as well.

Cart abandonment reminder emails gently remind the customer about the items they have in their carts by providing a list of the items and their prices.

Promotional emails have a list of all the benefits and features of the product you’re showcasing.

Survey emails thank the subscribers for using the business’s products and services and ask them if they would like to participate in a survey, which would make the user experience even better.

Post-purchase emails usually include a picture of whatever the customer just purchased, as well as all the important information, such as when they bought the product, how much it cost, shipping information and so on.

There are also reward emails, where the most important element is the reward business is giving to the customer to thank them for their loyalty.

If you are not sure how to go about writing text for your email campaign, there are hundreds of thousands of examples you can find online and draw inspiration from. 

3. Revision of the email and improvements   

After you’ve created your basic email design and added the necessary elements to it, take your time reading through it and seeing if any changes need to be made.

We always recommend asking one of your friends or family members for advice to see if they think the email design looks good.

How to increase email conversion rate?

There is a number of tips that you can use in order to increase your email conversion rate. Remember the ‘happy birthday’ email example from earlier?

Being personal in emails is actually preferable, let the recipient know that there is a person behind your brand. If you are asking them a question in the email, you can always encourage them to respond and have a discussion with them.

email design trends 2020
Communication with customers is an important part of marketing and brand building | Source

You can also ask them if there is anything they would love to see in the following emails, such as a specific topic.

There’s also storytelling, an important part of marketing. Advertisements that have storytelling as opposed to ads that only promote products are much more memorable and leave a bigger impact. So, if you’re promoting a product or a service, you can include a story that will get the interest of the recipient.

To increase the conversion rate of your emails, be sure to include a call-to-action button (and make it prominent, too). Additionally, optimize them for mobile, because more than half of global emails are opened on phones.   

How to make sure people open your email?

How many emails do you actually read and how many do you put in the trash without even giving them a second glance? Here’s some tips to ensure that people don’t do the latter with your emails.  

We already mentioned subject lines before and how important they are. When it comes to people opening your emails, they are absolutely crucial. To make sure the recipient opens your email, you can urge them with an offer, make them curious with information, intrigue them with a question and so on.

linkedin personalization email example - personalization email design 2020
An example of a personalization email

Next up – personalization. This might be the most important part of email marketing, because the more personalized emails are, the bigger chances there are of people opening them.

Don’t refer to your subscriber as ‘dear sir/madam’. Instead, use their name and gain their attention.

The email service you’re using for your email marketing campaign will also pay special attention to what the subscriber looked at on your website and where they are from, so the emails can be personalized even more.

Some businesses take personalization one step further and send out emails according to weather. Many delivery services send special offers during bad weather because it makes it really difficult if we want to eat outside. Many of them personalize emails depending on the date, as well (think of Mother’s Day emails).

Examples of good email design

In this part of the article, we wanted to include good email design examples, including unique and more simple looking ones, but all really well designed and thought out.

Here’s the first example on our list:

The subject line contains a promise (I’m going to change your life), which would make anyone open the email.

The header consists of the business’s logo and a picture of their products, while the text of the email tells a story (remember the significance of storytelling?).

The email design itself is very minimalist and pleasing to look at. The footer contains social media links, as well as the shop link. Simple and effective.

Here’s another two great examples of simple emails:

Casper is all about comfort, hence the soft color palette of the email and the picture they included. They’re notifying their subscriber about their limited time offer, which will urge them to make a purchase. The header includes links and their logo, while the text has a call-to-action button, so the subscriber can make a purchase immediately.

Grammarly emails are always simple and straightforward. The reason we chose this one is because it has a custom graphic in the header, but the body of the email is simple – Grammarly simply lists the benefits of their platform and ends them with a call-to-action button.

Let’s move on to emails with a more complex design and custom elements:

This email from Freshly has got it all: a background, coordinated colors, custom graphics and a ton of links. It’s aesthetically pleasing, but that doesn’t take away from the comprehension – the email flows nicely and the information is easy to understand.

Headspace is known for its unique emails. This healthcare company that specializes in mediation creates some of the prettiest emails. They all have beautiful color schemes and custom graphics (they’re almost always animated). All of their emails also include visible call-to-action buttons and social media links at the bottom. To see more of their emails, click here.

Take a look at these two PlayStation emails next:

The emails PlayStation sends are interactive and feature their signature blue color. The emails feature videos, statistics, and rewards, and the custom graphics and backgrounds they include make their emails even more unique and recognizable.

Plain text emails

Plain text emails are unlike all email examples we provided, and we wanted to include them for that exact reason.

They don’t really have a design – as the name suggests, they are plain and only contain text, with no fancy images and graphics. The reason we’re including them here is because some email marketers prefer them over other email types and think that their simplicity is the way to go.

Here’s an example of one:


As you can see, it is very simple. No images, no fancy header and footer, and no clickable links. The reason for the links not being clickable is the fact that it is a plain text email. Emails that look as simple and have clickable links are HTML emails. Many marketers use a combination of both, to achieve both clickable links and simplicity.

The pros and cons of plain text emails

Firstly and maybe most importantly, plain text emails have a simple appearance, which is preferred by some people. They also appear personal and direct, and there are no elements that distract the recipient. They also possess universal readability, and can be read on any device without any formatting problems.

When it comes to cons, they have no visual appeal, which immediately takes away any chance at uniqueness and attention grabbing. Because they cannot contain images and videos, they lose out on the benefits of these two elements.

Additionally, they don’t contain clickable links, so the recipient cannot access one of your links immediately and will have to do it themselves.

Wrapping up

Email marketing remains one of the most popular and successful marketing forms. The fact you can make an email campaign on your own with the help of a single service makes it especially appealing, but don’t forget about the important elements of every email.

In your header, include all the necessary information and make sure to include a strong subject line, which will get the attention of the recipient and make them open the email. In the footer, include your email address, a phone number, social media links, and website links.

The text of the email, as well as the additional elements, largely depends on the type of email, so make sure you don’t make every email you’re crafting the same. Different types of emails require different elements – for example, reward emails include gift cards and rewards, while promotional emails showcase the products with images and benefits.

Don’t forget to optimize the conversion and open rate of your emails by including personalization, storytelling, call-to-action-buttons, and good subject lines.

Good luck building your email marketing campaign and thank you for reading!

Marija Milosavljević
Marija Milosavljević

Graduated as first in her class. Incredibly quiet and shy until the lag in Warframe turns her into a raging death-bunny.

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