3 email marketing design trends in 2018 you need to watch

email marketing design trends 2018

Email marketing is continuing to take the lead in digital marketing trends, and a new report by Hubspot shows that email is currently the third most lead-generating marketing strategy.

In addition, email marketing remains one of the most cost-effective strategies for lead generation in the realm of online marketing.

To the savvy online business, this means that a strong focus on email marketing can help grow your business faster and more cost-effectively than just about any other strategy.

With more and more businesses seeing the value in email marketing, the competition is increasing. To help you stand out from your competitors, we’ve compiled some trends that will help you keep your finger on the pulse of elements that are helping campaigns convert.

This chart by Litmus categorizes 2018’s trends by popularity:

In this article, we’ll take a look at the four top trends and show you campaigns that nail each of these attributes, so you can apply or incorporate them into your own email marketing strategy.

Email marketing design trends in 2018 that will help you convert

Technology surrounding the digital world is always changing. For email marketers, that’s a good thing. New technology means more ways to interact with — and woo — prospective customers.

Let’s look at some of the most compelling design efforts on the 2018 email marketing scene and explore why they work so well.

Ready? Let’s dive in!

1. Interactive designs

Embracing interactivity in your emails should be Job One for your marketing team this year. With over 44.1% of marketers already incorporating interact email content, making some of your own is a no-brainer.

Compelling interactive designs are turning emails into inspiring micro-sites that give prospects a way to have a relationship with you without having to return to your website.

There are five main ways you can encourage interaction in your emails:

  • Navigation bars/accordions/menus

  • Shopping carts

  • Real-time news/updates

  • HTML5 video/animated GIFs

  • Games/puzzles

Let’s take a look at how each of these elements work and see them in action.

1. Navigation bars/accordions/menus

People love apps.

Incorporating an app-like quality to your marketing emails gives uses that interactive feeling they know and love and encourages them to approach your brand with an open, playful attitude.

The ability to include code that allows hamburger menus and photo carousels is critical for this type of design and it is particularly useful for reaching users on mobile devices that have restricted screen space.

Let’s take a look at this phenomenal example from B&Q at Litmus.


Recipients can scroll down the list on the side and get a different “page” for each version.

Notice how each page has its own image, color scheme, and tagline.

This design allows B&Q to send one email to four different market segments: a general outdoor-loving market, customers who barbecue, those with kids, and those who love to entertain outdoors.

Interactive shopping carts

The fewer actions a prospect has to take, the more likely they are to opt in and become a customer. New, interactive shopping carts embedded in emails act like landing pages, allowing customers to shop and complete an order without having to click through to a website.

Take a look at Litmus’ interactive cart.

Here, the recipient can choose locations, dates, build a custom workshop experience, and check out — all within the email.

Real-time news/updates

This year, the Detroit Pistons sent out an email that thrilled fans—and made marketers take note.

The email, which is delivered to ticket-holders prior to game-time, shows records, team matchups, and stats before the game. During the game, information changes as stats and live scores are broadcast for all the players.

Here are a few screenshots from the Adweek page.

Checking the email at any time during the game gives fans instant information in real-time, which contributes to engagement.


Short video clips or animated GIFs are another way to capture your audience’s attention and draw them into your brand’s message.

Check out this animated GIF from Ann Taylor Loft.

The clean design is striking on its own, but when the gift package shakes from side to side, it’s hard not to click on it and be taken to the appropriate landing page.

In this example, Harry’s uses a GIF in the form of a speeding clock dial to relay urgency and encourage users to click through.

Again, the clean design highlights the clock dial and focuses attention on the CTA — to act fast.


Gamification is a marketing strategy poised to bring in more than $11.1 billion by the year 2020. Using games and puzzles in your email marketing strategy can tap into this potential — and bring you a greater share of customers.

Here’s a fun representation of a scratch-off card from retailer Gwynnie Bee.

This game isn’t just fun—it also delivers a valuable offer to prospective customers.

Next up, Taco Bell takes a quirky approach to an online board game to encourage customers to order online.

(Image: ReallyGoodEmails)

For Taco Bell, who caters to younger demographic, the interactive board-game concept works to drive engagement—and orders.

2. Personalization

Personalization has gone beyond the realm of “Hi, ‘FIRST_NAME’,” to become truly targeted.

Let’s look at the way EasyJet crafts a stunning email with a very personal touch.

They didn’t just call their customer by name, they also memorialized their relationship with him, gave him suggestions on what to do next, and followed it up with a strong call-to-action (CTA).

That’s a lot of marketing value in one email.

Retailer Mack Weldon personalizes their emails by making recommendations based on what customers placed in their online shopping carts.

This helps discourage cart abandonment and promotes buying additional products to complete the purchase.

Monica Vinader takes personalization to the next level by using the customer’s initials on jewelry. This image makes it seem like they’ve created bespoke pieces just for the email recipient.

(Image: Campaign Monitor)

This type of dynamic and personalized content is an incredible — and effective — way to capitalize on your relationship with your customer to encourage continuing brand loyalty and increased purchasing.

3. Bite-sized content

Microsoft has recently discovered that goldfish have surpassed human beings in the attention-span department.

That’s right. A goldfish can pay attention for nine seconds. Us, not so much. We’re down to eight seconds.

For email marketers, that means providing small, but powerful, bits of information is critical to getting customers to act.

Let’s look at how Nest used infographics to engage with their customers. These images, from Venngage, show how nest provides a continual info-stream to keep customers interested.

Here’s another month’s “Interesting Fact:”

In keeping the reader informed and interested, Nest is also keeping their brand in front of customers and continuing to establish trust and loyalty.

Timberland also knows how to use micro-infographics to their best advantage. In this example from Litmus, they’ve incorporated a rolling live weather forecast into their Memorial Day Sale email.

Since they cater to the outdoorsy set, knowing the weather will make it easy to pair the correct footwear with your outdoor fun options. And if you don’t have the right kicks, you can find them at Timberland.

Another way to encourage customer interaction with your brand — and garner a bit of social proof in the process — is to share Tweetable quotes and information in your emails.

Here’s an example of what a Click to Tweet bar looks like:

Of course, you would insert the quote or bit of information that’s relevant to your brand in the box. The Click-to-Tweet box is so recognizable that it’s an almost reflexive share.

Wrap up

Of the email marketing design trends of 2018, these three: interactive design, personalization, and sharing bite-sized or “snackable” information provide the most impact for your email marketing strategy.

Choosing one or more can help bolster click-through-rates, increase trust, and build your brand a loyal following of customers that are engaged and ready to buy.

As technology improves, incorporating these elements into your email marketing campaign will become easier and more intuitive. Even now, widgets and other pre-coded elements make it easy to design creative, compelling emails that convert.

About the Author

Miles  Price

Miles Price is a Product Marketing Manager at Campaign Monitor.

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