Most modern business owners understand the importance of connecting with their customers through email. With more brands sending more emails than ever before, getting customers to engage with your email campaigns is becoming increasingly challenging.

Here's the good news: there are simple changes you can make to your email newsletter design to optimize for conversions, click-through rates, and engagement.

Here are 8 email newsletter design tips to help you increase conversions and connect with your customers.

Why is email newsletter design important?

Writing great email content is only one component of effective email marketing. Your emails also need a strong design to help your reader navigate your content and engage with your call to action.

Elements like your email subject line, videos, GIFs, content layout and your newsletter template can make or break the success of your email campaigns.

What contributes to higher email newsletter conversion rates?

A good email newsletter design helps your reader navigate your message and entices them to take action.

A great email newsletter design can measurably increase your email's conversion rate. You can upgrade your emails from good to great by leveraging the principles of conversion-centered design.

Initially developed by Oli Gardner, founder of Unbounce, the principles of conversion-centered design are a framework for building high-converting marketing campaigns. Luckily, these design principles can also be applied to email design.

Four conversion-centered design principles to use in your email designs to increase your conversion rate:

  1. Credibility. Email marketing focusing on conversion-centered design often includes user generated content (UGC). 90% of consumers surveyed say UGC holds more influence over their decision to buy than other forms of marketing. Examples of UGC in emails can include testimonials, customers sharing results, review videos, or UGC GIFs.
  2. Context. Adding context to what happens after clicking on a CTA builds trust. If your audience doesn’t understand what they can gain by engaging with your email, they likely won’t click through after opening.
  3. Clarity. Your email design can also impact the clarity of your message, which can indirectly affect your conversion rate. For example, if a subscriber opens an email and the design is cluttered, the text is hard to read, and the subject line is misleading, they won’t have the clarity to take the next step.
  4. Continuance. Use a consistent email newsletter design when you send similar types of emails to your subscribers. If the subscriber has already engaged with one of your emails, they'll have an easier time engaging with the next one if there's consistency in your design. For example, if they clicked-through your CTA in email #1, they'll be more likely to click through your CTA in email #2 if it's designed in the same way.

8 tips to increase conversion rates with your email email design

Next, let's put the principles of conversion-centered design into practice with 8 actionable tips you can immediately use to develop higher converting email newsletter templates.

Use the inverted pyramid pattern

The inverted pyramid pattern is used extensively in high-converting email newsletter templates. It's effective because it's familiar, making your emails extremely easy for subscribers to navigate.

The inverted pyramid design includes a strong headline, a description supporting and explaining your headline, and a clear call to action below.

Check out this email newsletter example from Everlane announcing a new store opening for a real-life example of the inverted pyramid pattern.

Use consistent branding

Consistent branding across all platforms is crucial to conversion-centered design. Companies with consistent branding across all channels typically report 33% higher revenue than companies with inconsistent branding.

Your email newsletter designs should use the same kinds of colours, imagery, and typography as your social media accounts, advertising, and website or store branding. This ensures that your emails not only build your brand, but benefit from the brand building work you've already done on other channels.

This email newsletter example from Dunkin Donuts uses consistent branding to announce a two-for-one deal. The use of the brand’s familiar color scheme, logo, and tone of voice taps into the brand's existing credibility and familiarity, making it easier for customers to trust the messaging and click on the offer.

Use GIFs to increase engagement with your email newsletter templates

Did you know that GIFs can be included in emails just like any other image? However, unlike JPGs and PNGs, GIFs can be animated. Animation, when used carefully, can make emails more engaging. The Email Institute found that email designs with GIFs could increase their click-through rates by 26%. Dell saw a 109% increase in revenue from emails featuring GIFs.

Since they're naturally attention grabbing, GIFs are best used to direct the reader's flow of attention through your email newsletter template.

Finally, it’s important that you test the file size and loading speed of your GIFs. Emails that load slowly can cause subscribers to exit the email before it's even finished loading. Tools like Animately can optimize GIFs so they load faster.

This section of a recent email from 99designs cleverly uses GIFs to show key product features in action.

Use image-based CTAs

A fast way to improve the design of your email is by using an image-based CTA instead of a text link. Images grab your subscriber's attention and can add context to what happens after the subscriber decides to pursue the call to action.

In this example Perfect Keto use an image-based CTA immediately after the email headline. This makes it easy for subscribers to engage with the email's CTA even if they're only skimming the email.

Leverage User-Generated Content (UGC)

Consumers view UGC as more authentic, trustworthy, clickable, engaging, and memorable than content and advertising created directly by brands. That's why featuring UGC in your email newsletter designs can improve conversion rates.

Here, Rowan does a great job at using UGC in this email design for their pet shampoo. It’s almost impossible not to read the rest of the email after seeing this adorable photo of a customer's dog in a shower cap!

Make sure your email design is responsive

59% of Millennials use their smartphone to check email while 67% of Generation Zs scan their inbox on mobile. With each generation it becomes even more important that your email design look great on mobiles, tablets, and desktop devices.

You should also consider designing your CTA landing pages for mobile. For example, if you’re pushing people to visit your website through your emails on mobile, this responsive experience needs to continue through to your website to maximize your conversion rates.

This email from Salesforce seamlessly transitions between a desktop and mobile design.

Desktop email newsletter design

The same email newsletter design viewed on a mobile device

Personalize your email newsletter's  'From' address

Consumers have never been more inundated with content, ads, and information. It’s up to marketers to find ways to cut through the noise.

To help cut through, make sure it's clear that your email is relevant to your subscriber by personalizing the ‘From’ address and the subject line.

Emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened, while 68% of Americans say they base their decision to open an email based on the ‘From’ name.

The sender’s name is typically the most prominent element of the email newsletter design when it lands in a subscriber's inbox. For this reason, it's critical to choose an effective and consistent "From" name and email address.

Finally, you can take this strategy to the next level by using an animated GIF as the Gmail profile picture for the email address you use to send your campaigns. This immediately makes your emails more attention grabbing, since animated profile images are still rarely used.

Check out all these techniques at once in an email sent by Foundr.

Break up text to make it more readable

Although your message is important, people generally skim the content they read online. Make sure to break up dense paragraphs when designing your email.

If there’s too much text without any whitespace your email can appear cluttered and the important parts of your message could be missed.

Instead, try breaking up big blocks of text with colors, lines, graphics, GIFs, and user-generated content.

For example, this email design by Glassdoor makes it easy to understand how their app can help candidates in their job search without needing to slog through huge chunks of text.

Wrap Up

Optimizing your email newsletter design using these tips could help you improve your conversion rates.

To summarize email newsletter design best practice, make sure your emails feature an inverted pyramid pattern, consistent branding, optimized GIFs, a clear call to action, a responsive design, and a personalized ‘From’ address.

Hungry to improve more than just your conversion rates? Check out our blog post on five ways you can immediately improve your email marketing metrics.