Start with these email design guidelines for 2019

Every year, digital marketers are introduced to new technologies and methods of engaging with their customers. From postal mail to social media, marketers have had to adapt to these new strategies for different mediums.

But even with these new methods, email continues to show no signs of slowing down. In fact, the number of email users grows every year. According to Statista, there will be more than 251 million people using email in 2019.

With so many people reading and sending emails, you will need to do something to make sure your messages stand out from the crowd.

This article will go over the need-to-know design guidelines for 2019 and include examples of ways to successfully implement them. We’ll also provide a few examples that you can use for email design inspiration.

Why your 2019 email marketing strategy should include design

Email marketing is one of the most profitable tools for engaging your leads and customers. Email campaigns return an average of $44 for every dollar you spend. That’s the best ROI compared to all other marketing activities.

To receive the best return on investment with your email campaigns, it’s important to include visual elements in your email design. The human brain is simply better and faster at processing images than text. Studies show two-thirds (67%) of people understand information better when communicated visually.

What does this really mean for email creation? Our brains are psychologically better at identifying and reacting to images. So, marketers should try to create an optimized visual experience in their email campaigns to encourage engagement and increase conversions.

Your top email design guidelines for 2019

Your emails could reach thousands, or even millions, of your customers. If you really want your email campaign to impress, you need to consider some of the HTML email design best practices that will be popular in 2019.

Follow this email design checklist to create visually appealing emails that will delight your customers and improve engagement.

1. Create responsive email templates.

This isn’t a new trend unique to this year, but it continues to grow in importance.

Mobile device use continues to increase each year. Just look around next time you’re out on a lunch break or waiting for a train. Unless there is a group together, the majority of people probably have their phones out checking social media, texting, or reading emails.

In fact, 54% of emails are now being opened on a mobile device. It’s more important now than ever to create responsive email templates that look good in mobile—or even designing for mobile first.

Consider this email example from MLS Store that was opened in Gmail on desktop:

MLS responsive email example
Image Source: MLS Store
 
Now look at the same email opened on an iPhone:
 
MLS mobile / responsive email example
Image Source: MLS Store
 

The email design looks almost identical on both platforms. However, you could argue that the formatting looks even better on mobile. This email delivers a good user experience for readers.

This is one important thing to remember about building responsive templates. If you’re coding the emails yourself, you need to make sure you inline your CSS code. Otherwise, you might have formatting issues in your mobile versions. Most email design software will do this for you.

It’s important to get the responsive formatting correct. The majority of emails that are formatted incorrectly are deleted in less than three seconds.

2. Optimize your image sizes and placement.

One way to ensure your emails are formatted properly is to follow email width best practices when building your messages.

Our design team recommends using header graphics that are between 600 and 700 pixels wide. The height should also be proportional. You should keep graphics in the body of your email smaller than 480 x 480 pixels.

Formatting this way will create natural white space on the sides of your email. This makes your content easier to read and is more visually pleasing. In fact, some readers prefer emails with fewer graphics in general. Take a look at this email from Squarespace that adapts a more minimalistic style.

Image Source: Really Good Emails
 
Your email design template should also be built so the most important images or information generally appears in the upper left side of the email. An eye-tracking study by the Nielsen Norman Group found that people consume digital and web content in an F-shaped pattern.
 
Image Source: Nielsen Norman Group
 

The findings make sense because, in English, people read from top to bottom and left to right. So, our eyes are trained to immediately jump to this part of the email. Interestingly, this trend was similar for both desktop and mobile. Make sure you put your most important content and images in this area.

3. Add more personalized and interactive content.

Most email marketers already understand the benefits of using personalization in their campaigns. After all, research shows that personalized messages improve click-through rates by 14% and conversions by 10%.

While email automation is great for scheduling emails to be sent at the right time, more advanced machine learning and AI is necessary to ensure proper personalization.

Right now, most marketers are segmenting their contacts and sending relevant content to those specific groups. But consider how you can utilize dynamic content or images that could provide a unique email for each individual customer.

Think about city images that can be changed based on geolocation. Retailers can also create modules that add recommended products based on purchase trends, similar to what you’d see when you’re shopping on Amazon.

In addition, email marketers can personalize experiences by offering interactive content. This tactic allows readers to engage with specific elements in your email that interest them. Consider this example for glow-in-the-dark shoes from Toms:

TOMs interactive content example
Image Source: Really Good Emails
 

The email features a switch that readers can activate by scrolling over it. This would then show what the shoes look like in the dark.

In addition to looking great and offering a fun experience, emails like this can also help make your campaigns more successful. Interactive content is proven to generate two times more conversions compared to passive content.

4. Incorporate user-generated content into your email.

Using user-generated content is a simple and effective design strategy to improve engagement. You’re basically just taking images or content submitted by customers and using them as part of your email design.

Black Milk Clothing recently did an exceptional job with this strategy. The retailer ran a campaign asking users to hashtag themselves wearing specific products. The company then used some of those photos in an email campaign.

Black Milk Clothing interactive content example
Image Source: Photoslurp
 

This strategy created excitement for customers eager to engage and see if their images appeared in the next email. The hardest part is just trying to determine which images make the cut.

5. Use trendy and popular colors.

Your email colors should reflect your brand. However, if you have some wiggle room, consider implementing one of 2019’s trending colors.

Pantone recently announced Living Coral as its color of the year for 2019. Pantone says the color would work well in digital mediums because Living Coral evokes an inspirational feeling that’s similar to our natural surroundings. Laurie Pressman, Vice President of the Pantone Color Institute, says this about Living Coral:

“Color enhances and influences the way we experience life. As a shade that affirms life through a dual role of energizing and nourishing, PANTONE 16-1546 Living Coral reinforces how colors can embody our collective experience and reflect what is taking place in our global culture at a moment in time.”

Pantone even provides these helpful color codes for designers hoping to use Living Coral in their digital and print campaigns.

Pantone Living Coral color
Image Source: Pantone
 

It’s worth noting that Pantone isn’t the only brand that is suggesting a popular color for 2019. Paint industry giants Sherwin and Williams, Behr, and Benjamin Moore have also released their top colors for this year. These palettes can also be looked to for inspiration and include shades of gray, blue, and terracotta.

Consider using these colors for an email or seeing if there’s a way to complement your current design style.

Wrap up

A picture says a thousand words, and the same can be said for your emails. If you have beautifully designed emails, your customers are more likely to engage. Alternatively,  your email design is subpar, your metrics might suffer as a result.

Be sure to follow our email design guidelines, including building responsive templates, optimizing your image sizes and placements, creating interactive and personalized content, and experimenting with trending colors.

Finally, it’s important to remember to A/B test any template changes you make. Just because email design best practices say something should be done in a specific way, that doesn’t always mean it will work for your brand. Constantly run tests and optimize your email design based on your audience’s engagement.

Are you ready to get started designing beautiful emails for your next marketing campaign? Browse our email templates and find the perfect one that’s sure to delight your customers.

About the Author

Emma Email

Emma is an email marketing platform that gives you all the tools you need to send campaigns that really connect with your subscribers. Unlike other email providers, Emma puts their customers first. It's email marketing that works for you.

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