Does Your Email Design Need Help? Here Are 4 Tips to Up Your Game

Good email design might actually make your emails pack a bigger punch. Here are four tips to make your emails looks better, even if you’re not a designer.

This post is the fifth installment of our new series, The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing. For eight weeks, we’re featuring a new article that covers a specific area of focus in email! Last week, we wrote about what to write in your emails. Now we’re covering email design! Want a sneak peek into the content? Check out The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing.

How important is the design of your email? Is a compelling message enough, or do you need to have gorgeous visuals as well?

If you’re like a lot of time-strapped business owners, you may not have had the opportunity to do much with your email design.

However, adding in some design elements might actually make your emails pack a bigger punch. Why? Because studies show that 90 percent of the information transmitted to our brains is visual.

In fact, many marketers and designers believe that color can impact behavior. For example, brands like McDonalds and KFC may use the color red because it is believed to invoke feelings of hunger. Orange is frequently used as an effective call to action, because of its inviting and friendly tone, according to the folks over at 99Designs.

So how can you use some of this knowledge to your advantage? Here are four tips to make your emails looks better right away, even if you’re not a designer.

Prefer to listen to or watch this blog post? Check out the podcast adaptation of this post below or watch the YouTube video:

1. Choose the right colors

Select colors that reflect your logo and/or brand… but be sure that there’s enough contrast and clarity for your message to display clearly for easy reading. (For example, many people find white letters on a black background difficult to read.)

You can also use some of the color psychology we discussed above to select complimentary colors. Check out this chart we created about the emotional impacts of different colors.

Tip: If you need help with color schemes, is full of palettes and patterns that can help you create eye-catching designs.

2. Leave some breathing room

Densely packed emails may be hard to digest – especially on mobile devices, where 53 percent of all opens occur.

Plus, according to research by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, people’s attentions spans are actually getting shorter – meaning that it may be better to err on the side of too much white space instead of not enough.

Leaving extra white space has an additional benefit: it challenges you to keep your message brief and to only include the relevant details.

But what if you have a lot to say? Glad you asked …

3. Use text as a design element

Incorporate subheads, bullet points or images to divide text and avoid an email that resembles a legal document.

Use subheads, bullet points or images to divide text and avoid an email that resembles a legal document. Click To Tweet

This can also be a great way to make your message scannable. Lots of people choose to scan instead of read. Make sure your most important points are easy to find for the skimmers as well as the readers.

4. Don’t overdo it with images

Wait… didn’t I just say images are good? I did. But too many images can make your email load… very… slowly.

People are impatient. Don’t give them a reason to delete your email before they’ve read it.

Clean and simple is OK, too

Whether you’re a minimalist or maximumalist in terms of email design (and yes, maximumalist might even be a real word), there’s one thing you can’t skimp on: good grooming.

In terms of email, that means no spelling errors, no weird line breaks and no images that convert to non-images when your message is opened.

Yes, this might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many emails go out that are hastily edited. Be sure to invest the time to preview your message first – on your computer AND your mobile device.

Remember, a gorgeous header will not make up for spelling errors.

If you’re using AWeber: To easily check emails before you send, click on the “Preview & Test” button on the upper right-hand side of your screen. Enter your email address and hit “Send Test” to get a test email delivered to your inbox. Don’t forget to view it on your mobile device as well!

If you’re not using AWeber: Check out Email on Acid or other email testing tools to preview your design before you send.

Focus on one thing

If you’re new to email marketing, we suggest giving yourself some time for your style to evolve. Focus on having a well-groomed email to start, and then add in additional design elements as you become more comfortable.

However, don’t get so caught up in having a great design that you hold off on sending emails. Remember, it’s your message that’s going to engage people. People can’t read the message you don’t send.

Want to learn about other tweaks and techniques to up your email game? Read last week’s post, Here’s Why Email Send Times Matter a Lot. Or, get the full experience by checking out the Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing!

Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing


  1. Lee Lo

    2/28/2017 3:57 am

    Great tips! I give up using images on email as many client mails are not showing them. Instead I am using text alternates!

  2. Legrand

    3/5/2017 3:54 am

    Hey Liz Willits,
    I have tried both Text and Images on Mails. But, text mails got more conversion than image mails. Want to hear more from you. Thank you so much nice tips.

  3. Cindy Robert

    3/10/2017 2:49 pm

    I also appreciate the tips shared in this blog. Even email design is that factor of digital marketing through which you can earn a handsome amount of revenue. That’s why this process should be creative, attractive and catchy so that more and more customers subscribe your services.

  4. fastpokemap

    3/16/2017 5:49 am

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  5. Banggood

    3/18/2017 2:50 am

    Really appreciate for your amazing article. Keep going on, good stuff. Thank you for this valuable information.