Email Marketing
7 min

The Ultimate Guide to Email Design Best Practices for Marketers


What’s there to email design, you ask? Well, there’s plenty of artistry, strategic thinking, and a whole lot of drama to begin with. After all, the best emails are the ones that compel the reader to think, pause, and ultimately, take the desired action. Let’s look at what the data tells us:

  • According to research, emails with a personalized subject line have a 50% higher open rate than those who don’t.
  • Another study claims that emails with longer subject lines (110–140 characters) have higher click-through and open rates.

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  • Additionally, further research claims that emails with an emoji in the subject line boast of 3% higher average open rate than emails without them.
  • Finally, certain words and symbols can boost the email’s clickable rate, such as:

Clearly, designing an email is more than just inserting a relevant CTA button and calling it a day.

In this blog, we will deep-dive to understand some of the best email design best practices that have stood the test of time and won over the customer’s hearts. Let’s jump right in.

Top-5 Email Design Best Practices to Follow in 2021

To help you get started, we’ve created this email design checklist that you can use to nail your email design process:

1. Sketch an Email Layout to Get Started in the Right Direction

Before you get into the email design process, you’ll need to create a rough sketch of what your email should look like. Follow these steps:

  • Sketch a mockup of your email.
  • Use a logical hierarchy-complete with bold, large headlines and stand-out images to guide the reader.
  • Space out your content into relevant buckets.
Nike's email layout where content has been spaced into relevant bucket

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  • Strategically and innovatively think about the kind of images and GIFs you’ll want to use in the email design as Asana does.
  • Factor in the content for your header and footer, and keep it relevant and crisp as Lyft does.

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Pro Tip: When conceptualizing your email layout, think about how you will guide your reader in terms of what they should check out first and how they should proceed ahead.

2. Ideas for an Email Design Layout

a) Go for the ‘Inverted Pyramid’ Email Design Style to Focus Subscribers on What’s Most Important

The inverted pyramid is a framework for logically categorizing key elements of your email layout (think: header, content, imagery, CTA, etc.) to reel the reader in and compel them to take action. Here’s an example for your reference:


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The idea is to guide your subscriber down the page to your CTA button(s) and encourage them to explore your brand’s offerings as seamlessly and logically as possible.

b) Make Intelligent Use of ‘Dynamic Content’ to Engage Better with Readers and Segment Subscribers

To create an eye-catching and appealing email design, you can dynamically change sections of your content as Adidas does.

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Here, you’re playing with dynamic content to hold onto the user’s attention and offer a different perspective (quite literally) within seconds.

c) Opt for an ‘Angular, Zig-Zag’ Email Design Grid When There are Lots to Talk About

If you’re thinking of rolling out an email that contains plenty of images and information, go angular. Confused? Consider the following example by Sephora for inspiration:


Here’s why this type of email design works

  • It is a functional and visually appealing layout.
  • It allows the brand to offer a lot more information, without making it look chaotic or cramped.

To create this type of email, follow these steps:

  • Build on angles using imagery or color blocking to guide the onlooker at every step.
  • Keep the content crisp, short, and easy to read.
  • Focus on the layout and may sure that it is proportionate.
  • Make sure that your email’s width stands anywhere between 600-640 pixels as otherwise, Gmail wouldn’t show any background color that appears in the margins.
  • Ensure that the CTA button included in the email is between 45 x 45px and 57 x 57px for a mobile device.
  • Keep your body copy size to 16px for mobile devices.

Wrap Up

Email design is all about keeping the user experience in mind and designing with user data, intuition, and a rock-solid mock-up to start with. Use these tried-and-tested hacks and bring your emails to life, quite literally.

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