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10 tips for best-practice email template design

Whether we’ll readily admit it or not, we all judge books by their covers, products by their packaging, and emails by their designs. If an email looks like trash, no prizes for guessing where it’s going. So, how can you create a beautifully designed email?

How do I create a custom email template?

Wondering how to design a marketing email? Here are 10 tips for email template design.

1. Less is more

Don’t let poor design ruin a good email marketing strategy! Avoid crowding your email with excessive images or links. A clutter-free layout gives your email focus and ensures that your message stands out rather than getting lost in the visual noise.

How do I structure an email template?

Structuring an email template involves organizing its layout and content to ensure readability, functionality, and visual appeal across various email clients. Here’s a basic structure commonly used for email templates:

1. Header:

  • Logo: Include your company or brand logo for immediate recognition.
  • Navigation Links (optional): Provide links to relevant sections like products, services, or website pages.
  • Contact Information: Include contact details such as email, phone number, and address.

2. Body:

  • Introduction: Start with a personalized greeting or introduction.
  • Main Content: This could be a promotional offer, informational message, newsletter content, etc.
  • Images or Graphics: Use visuals to support your message, but don’t overload the email with too many images.
  • Call-to-Action (CTA): Include clear and compelling CTAs prompting the recipient to take action (e.g., “Shop Now,” “Learn More,” “Get Started”).

3. Footer:

  • Contact Information: Repeat or reinforce contact details.
  • Unsubscribe Link: Include an option for recipients to unsubscribe or manage their subscription preferences.
  • Social Media Links: Provide links to your social media profiles.
  • Legal Information: Include necessary legal disclaimers, privacy policy links, or copyright notices.

2. Scannable content

Most of us don’t read every word of an email line-by-line. We give it a quick glance before deciding whether to engage further. But remember, an engaged scanner is more likely to become an engaged reader, so capture and guide your email recipients’ attention right away with short paragraphs, subheadings, and bullet points that make your content easy to scan. 

3. Calls to action that pop

Even if your recipients skim through the email, an enticing CTA can capture their attention and lead to higher click-through rates. Make it stand out with contrasting colors and compelling, action-orientated text. 

BM email CTA

You may also be interested in: How to Run a Successful Small Business Email Marketing Campaign

4. Quick links for easy navigation

After reading your email, people might want to learn more about your business. As we mentioned in Point #1, less is more, and you don’t want to try to fit absolutely everything you do into one email. Rather, use quick hyperlinks to your website, contact information, and social media profiles to make navigation effortless and encourage recipients to explore more.

5. Consistency is key

Think of your email as an extension of your brand’s personality. Maintain a consistent look and feel between your website, marketing material, and email templates. When recipients open your email, they should immediately recognize who it comes from and feel connected to your brand’s identity. It also makes the design process far simpler when you’re working from clear brand guidelines every time.

6. Font matters

Sorry not sorry, Comic Sans and Wingdings. Simplicity is your friend when it comes to fonts in email template design. While unique fonts might look fantastic on your end as you design the email, they might not display as intended on all devices. Stick to standard web fonts to ensure your message remains legible and impactful across various platforms.

Hillary’s favorite email fonts:

  • Roboto
  • Arial
  • Calibri
  • Lato

7. Honest subject lines

Clickbait might get clicks, but it won’t get you loyal customers. Write subject lines that accurately represent the content of your email. Your recipients will appreciate the transparency. Over time, they’ll develop trust in (and hopefully look forward to) your emails, leading to higher open rates.

8. A/B test like a pro

Don’t be afraid to explore different email design layouts. A/B testing can provide valuable insights into what works best for your audience. Experiment with variations in color, layout, and content placement to find the winning formula that resonates with your recipients. Just remember to test only one variable at a time so that you know which element is making an impact. 

9. Mobile-friendly design

With our smartphones nearby us most of the time, the era of checking emails solely on desktops is long gone. A significant portion of your audience is reading emails on their phones (85%!), and you don’t want to miss out on engaging them—or run the risk of losing them. Adestra found that around 70% of people delete emails that don’t display correctly on their phone, and about 25% of younger mobile users will unsubscribe as a result. Design your email template to be responsive (respond to the user’s behavior and environment based on screen size, platform and orientation) and to look just as appealing on small screens and mobile devices.

10. Preview on multiple devices

Before hitting that send button, take a moment to preview your email on different devices and email clients. This step ensures that your design, layout, and content formatting remain intact, regardless of where your recipients open the email. 

You may also be interested in: Top 10 Benefits of Email Marketing for Small Businesses 

SUMMARY: How do I make my email marketing look good?

  1. Remember that less is more
  2. Make your content scannable
  3. Create CTAs that pop
  4. Use quick links for easy navigation
  5. Maintain a consistent look and feel
  6. Use easy-to-read web fonts
  7. Don’t use misleading subject lines
  8. A/B test like a pro
  9. Use mobile-friendly design
  10. Preview your email on multiple devices

Email template design made easy

With these email template design tips and best practices, you’re well on your way to connecting with your audience, reinforcing your brand, and driving action. Remember to keep your designs clean, captivating, and consistent. Your audience will thank you with clicks and conversions!


If you’re looking for more tips to help you rock email marketing, sign up for our Brighter Messaging newsletter. And if you want our team to design you an email template or a comprehensive email marketing strategy, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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