Email template design — 10 tips for engaging newsletters

Digital MediaEmail

When it comes to design, there is a lot of talk about websites, but not a lot on email template design. But no worries, we have got you covered with our top tips on how to design your email template to optimize it for engagement (and make it pretty)!

1. Don’t over design an email template

Keep it simple, silly! Ultimately emails are derived from letters, which are simply words on a page. All you are trying to do is get a message across, so don’t try to overcomplicate things!

2. Two column maximum

Honestly, probably even sticking to just one column would be best. Think about how narrow your email is when people open them in a browser, and especially when people are opening them on mobile devices.

3. Make your email mobile friendly

Speaking of mobile devices, more than half the people reading emails now read it on their phones. So, be sure to make the fonts on your email template big enough, the photos are not overflowing, and make sure it is scannable.

4. Make it scannable

Flowing from one point swimmingly into another, making the email template design scannable is important! Let’s be real, people’s attention spans are decreasing by the day, so we have to make it digestible. Adding header texts, and email text to break up different sections of the email, and adding space in between those blocks will help people scan what you are trying to say.

5. Add a hierarchy to your email template design

Nonprofits usually have a lot they want to say in their newsletter because they are doing such great work, but focus on a main message and put that on top (which we call a hero section). In the hero section, include some text (keep it short!) and image so that readers know right-off-the-bat what to expect.

6. Use clear call-to-action

Have at least one call-to-action in the email! Emails are like websites and geared at asking your supporters to do something. Add a button somewhere above the fold (above the scroll), so that it will not be missed.
Tip: Research shows that most call-to-action buttons in email template designs are either blue or green, so start there if you are not sure what color you want your button to be.

7. Use brand colors

Apply the brand colors to your email template so that there is consistency from your newsletters, to your website, to your social media platforms.

8. Use dynamic variables

In MailChimp, these are called “merged tags.” You should use these for static, fixed elements in your newsletter (the copyright year, physical address, name of organization). This way, you don’t have to worry about editing the template all the time.

9. Make sections of emails sharable

The common practice is to add shared buttons at the end of an email template design so that people get the whole email, but all they want to share is a part of the email. So instead, add a click to tweet or click to share somewhere in your template so you can share the most important parts.

10. Cross browser and client test

This is a way of making sure that it works (and looks nice) on all devices and all browsers that your supporters may be using. It would not be fun to put in all this work, only to have it show up weirdly on Safari on a Mac. There are services like Litmus that allows you to test your emails on one easy platform, or you can manually test it out on every browser or device.

So there you have our top tips on how to make your email template design that much better. Have fun designing!

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