The Email Design Element You Haven’t Considered

You feel it in your gut every time you hit the “queue email” button: the eager (or perhaps nervous) anticipation of response.

You do, of course, directly ask your readers for that response, whether it’s replying, sharing on a social network or purchasing. And your marketing copy has an encouraging effect.

But have you thought about what effect, direct or indirect, the colors in your emails have? Choosing colors may feel fun and carefree, but the hues you choose can actually affect your readers’ responses.

You Mean Colors Really Matter?

Kissmetrics, which focuses exclusively on customer conversion, explains that color has more effect than any other visual cue in marketing.

They pulled data from marketing journals to create a visual representation of how colors perform (shown on left).

For a specific example, one company found that switching a link from red to blue prompted significantly more clicks on the link.

So, Consider Creating A Mood With Color

The Color The Mood Inspired
dark blue grave, intelligent, sated
purple elegant, mysterious, exotic
red exciting, dangerous, hungry
light yellow breezy, optimistic, carefree
dark yellow oppressive, overpowering
pink gentle, soothing, pacifying
gray practical, timeless
green restful, uplifting
brown stable, genuine
black elegant, classy
orange ambitious, cheerful
white clean, safe

Every color triggers a unique psychological response. So while you’ll want your emails’ colors to fit with your usual branding, you’ll also want to consider the mood you’re creating within your readers.

  • A cafe may want to use red. It’s reported to increase appetite. If their logo and signs are usually hunter green and navy, they could use a dark maroon to match. If their branding is bright, they could use crimson.
  • A financial planning might want to choose a combination from white, blue, brown and grey – colors that build trust in a brand by suggesting intelligence, safety and stability.
  • A childcare center may want to use greens, pinks, browns or whites to soothe anxious parents and indicate its trustworthy and nurturing nature.
  • Clothing retailers could use purple to suggest their clothes are uncommon or exclusive, light yellow to put the customer in a carefree “buying mood” or black to sell business or formal wear.

You can incorporate colors to create any mood. Choose from the chart on the right, or find more information on colors in marketing from ColorMatters or ColorCom.

Case Study: Blood In The Mail

Blackcoffee helps companies develop brand expression. Last Halloween, as a way to express their own brand, they mailed bags of fake blood to their prospects.

The bag offered to help put life back in the recipients’ marketing campaigns and encouraged them to “B positive.”

This campaign had a 25% response rate – remarkable for a direct mailing. The costs of the mailing were paid for by the 3rd call.

Now, part of the campaign’s success was undoubtedly due to its shock factor. It’s not everyday you open your mailbox and pull out bright red blood.

But that bright red color, I would argue, added to the effect. The bold crimson commanded attention, and it also triggered urgency.

Fact Or Foolishness?

While countless studies have shown the psychological effect of colors, it would be presumptive to say that every single person will react to a color in the same way.

In fact, some may think color has no effect at all. Others may think the effect is minimal enough to not bother incorporating the approach in emails.

So as a marketer, I’m asking for your opinion: how much do you think color affects whether or not your email readers respond?