How to design an email template?

There is a great variety of full-fledged guides on email template design on the internet. They contain both the general information and useful tips, hints, pieces of advice.

In this article, we are going to dwell on the most important and useful issues from the point of view of the users.

Creating an email template usually takes much time, efforts and imagination. That's why, you'd better create your own brand template with special design, and follow it while creating the further email campaigns. This way, you will not only automate your work but promote brand awareness.

Despite the fact, that an email template is a place where you should be creative and original, it has own structure to be preserved. We will take into consideration structural and non-structural email elements and formatting. 

Let's start!

Email includes both structural and non-structural elements.

Non-structural elements

Non-structural elements include email sender, subject line and preheader. These elements are vital for you. Why? They are the first to be seen by the subscribers when checking their inbox. Have you ever been about to give a chance to an email the sender of which was unknown, the subject line — boring and the preheader — non-informative? Highly unlikely!

1. Use your company name as an email sender

You’ve certainly received an email from an unknown person and asked yourself a question “Who on earth are you?” and this is great if you just asked but not marked as spam. So, for your clients not to be confused, use your company name with the department you are sending from in the “From” field.

2. Draw attention with a subject line

If you want a subscriber to open your email, your subject line is to stand out from the rest. Make it short but informative, personalize, use rhetorical questions to intrigue, emoji, and test!

3. Inform with a preheader

Preheader is the text right to your subject line. Use it effectively to convey the main aim of your email. Use teasers and call to action. But mind the size of the preheader. Try to use no more than 35 letters — available size on IPhone.

  

Structural elements

Before considering structural elements of an email in details, several important issues should be concerned:

  • email template width
  • email template height
  • image size and format
  • mobile-friendly email
  • responsive email

We have already dwelt on all these questions. Discover the answers to them in the article “Email template size”.

1. Make your email easy to read

 

Why is this email easy to read? 

There are several possible answers:

  • Inverted pyramid design

You have probably heard of inverted pyramid design. It is stated that the average time people pay attention to reading an email is 8 seconds. Pyramid model allows to make the most important elements like the header, image, paragraph and call to action button prominent. It perfectly fits the email with a single call to action.

Email from a Remembear has a structure of inverted pyramid model: the header grabs our attention, the email body builds anticipation — we discover more about the Remembear, and a button encourages to try their services. Despite the fact that a call to action button in a classic model is at the bottom of the email while in this one there are buttons in the middle and at the bottom — it does not prevent us from easy reading. Visually, the email consists of 2 parts: introducing the service and specifying its benefits. Each part ends with a call to action button. That's why it looks quite logical.

  • White space

White space placed around your call to action button makes it more visible and eye-grabbing. Use it not only to drive attention to a call to action but place between the paragraphs and round the header. This way, your email will look minimalistic and the message will be highlighted without exaggeration.

  • Contrast

Black text on white background is the best choice. An abundance of colours makes the eyes tire quickly, while black and white colours do not. Besides, they are not distractive. If you choose bright colours, stick to no more than 3 of them.

Let’s take a closer look at each of the structural elements of an email.

2. Do not use background images

The trouble with the background images lies in the fact that most email clients do not support them, they simply block background pictures. This blocking is a default setting of an email client. If you still do want to use them, you should know all the ESPs and make sure they support background images. Is the game worth the candles?

3. Host images on your web server

You have a choice: attach images to an email or host them on your web server. If you host an image on your web server, the size of your email won’t be large and all the email clients “understand” this method of loading the pictures. If you attach images to an email, your email size will be larger, thus it will take much time to load the picture.

4. Make the images clickable

It is important because recipients tend to click the images. They click small ones to examine them better and big ones, especially, logos to be redirected to your homepage. Take care to avoid poor user experience.

5. Provide images with an Alt text

Alt text stands for alternative text. If your image does not load or breaks, the alt text will be displayed. It explains what is in the picture. Using an Alt text, make sure that you specified the width and the height of your image, this is the area for the alt text to be displayed.

6. Create a tempting call to action button

Call to action button is the last argument why a recipient should take an action. Keep away from designing a button like a text link.

Call to action button should:

  • Be large

The larger your call to action button is — there are more chances for it to be hit. The size should be convenient for the recipient to tap on a button reading an email on the phone.

  • Match your brand colour

It’s an advice rather than a must. Make the contrast between the button colour and the background. A red colour is considered to be the most actionable.

  • Be the only one

Surely, if you are in ecommerce and you send TOP-rated goods, you will have several call to action buttons. Still, it’s better to have one button not to distract the reader’s attention. Create an A/B test to find out the most profitable variant for your business.

7. Include a link to a web version

web version is needed in case your email is displayed incorrectly. It is important because the recipients can block graphics displaying, or they may be blocked by an email provider. Web version allows to see HTML email as a web page. The users will see the images, links, unsubscribe link, etc.

8. Check out the links

Make sure that every link in your email works on all the devices, that it has UTM tracking and is coloured properly. Apple and Gmail tend to turn them into a blue colour, you can use CSS to avoid this.

Email footer

Do not neglect an email footer. It is necessary for the users since it provides the great user experience. Email footer should contain contact information, company address, link to your website, links to social networks, unsubscribe link, copyright.

How to create a helpful footer?

1. Place a visible unsubscribe link

We won’t be too wordy regarding this issue. If you are interested in mailing list quality and your good sender’s reputation — visible unsubscribe link will be to your advantage. In case it is hidden somewhere in the text and the font size is small, it will be harder for the unengaged users to unsubscribe. So, they will mark your email as spam. Besides, it should be easy for a user to unsubscribe — in one click.

 

2. Give a chance to manage email preferences

Users may unsubscribe due to different reasons: they receive emails from you too often, they don’t want to get a specific type of newsletters, their interests have changed since the last time they set them. Give them a link to the preference centre where they can update them.

Formatting

1. Design your emails so that their style corresponds to your brand — colours, fonts, buttons should always be the same to create brand awareness.

2. Use the most readable fonts.

Choose the font size 12-14, for headers — bigger. There are fonts that render properly anywhere, they are Times New Roman, Verdana, Courier, Ariel, Georgia, Helvetica.

3. Use full justification or left-margin justification for the paragraphs.

4. Use centre justifications for headers.

5. Use left-margin justification and semi-bold for subheaders.

6. Place empty string between the paragraphs.

This is not the full guide on how to design an email template, but the most important issues to be considered. If you put them into practice, you will be able to create the great user experience. 

The last advice — always test!

 

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