6 email design techniques for higher conversions

4 min read
Walter Chen
  •  Oct 17, 2017
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With an estimated 205.6 billion emails sent and received per day in 2015 alone, it’s safe to say that the competition for audience attention is fierce. The average person receives a mind-blowing 122 emails per day which means you have mere seconds to get them to notice you.

It’s no secret that emails are the most efficient way to reach lots of people at once. They give you access into personal space that’s 40 times more effective at attracting new customers than Facebook or Twitter.

“The average person receives 122 emails per day.”

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That’s why it’s not enough to send generic emails that don’t connect with audiences or build a relationship. If you want to get people to open and click-through your emails and boost conversion rates, your emails have to excite and pique interest. That’s where email design comes in.

To help you plan your next email campaign, we’ve found a few examples of emails with creative, attention-grabbing designs. We’ll explain why they have high conversion rates and what you can do to get the same results.

1. Use colors to influence emotions

Color theory is the art of understanding the emotions triggered by colors. When it’s used the right way, it grabs reader’s attention and has the power to influence how they feel about the brand, product, or offer.

For example, warm colors like red, orange, and yellow are good options for conveying happiness and energy.

To promote their new X2 earbuds, this email offer from Jaybird puts the bright red Fire & Storm version front and center to show off the unique design.

It’s a bold statement—especially since Jaybird relies mostly on emails to talk to their customers. This direct approach has been a winning strategy for them because their campaigns are driving conversions and revenue. The combination of bold colors in their emails and world-class athletes inspire customers to make a purchase and push through their workout.

2. Complementary font types play off each other

Web fonts come in lots of styles. So to create dynamic email campaigns, you don’t have to settle for just one type. Use multiple font pairings like big, bold serif fonts for the title and smaller non-serif fonts for the body. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to experiment with color to add some contrast.

Apartment Therapy follows the same formula for its email campaigns. For example, subscribers are especially engaged with Apartment Therapy’s baking lesson emails. The emails have a 55% open and click-through rate, which is amazing when you consider that the home and garden industry average is 23%.

Related: How to pair fonts

The emails feature more than 2 font types and a mix of font colors to help readability and hold reader interest. For example, a product like Campaign Monitor uses web fonts in their email builder tool to get you started. Run a few A/B tests to find the font combination that works for your campaign.

3. Build trust with matching email and website branding

Email campaigns should be a continuation of your website in terms of color scheme, fonts, and layout. Together they offer a connection and tell a story about your brand.

Templates like the ones in Campaign Monitor’s template library let you customize your campaigns to mirror your brand standards. When you find the template you want, simply drag and drop your logo or incorporate brand colors to create a high-converting email design.

The Mercedes-Benz website uses dark colors to create the feeling of luxury and prestige. Their emails offer something familiar to audiences so they’re more likely to trust the campaign and click-through to find out more—meaning higher conversions.

Mercedes-Benz’s email campaign ROI is 3800%, so for every $1 spent on an email campaign, they generate $38 in ROI. This is right on the money with what the DMA National Client Email Report says is possible.

4. Minimal design lets you focus on key features

One way to get people to take notice is to get right to the point. Cut out distractions, use fewer colors, and rely on minimal design.Twitter Logo This way, readers only see what you want them to. For example, use a single image with bold text to get the message across.

In this ad by On, isn’t your eye drawn to the shoe and its design? The whole email is attractive—especially with the simple background and bold white text. Your eye is also drawn to the call to action (CTA) button, which combined with the shoe are the 2 most important elements in the email. In fact, the CTA is the same color as the shoe, which is great because blue hues are “dependable and trustworthy” colors.

Bold CTA buttons—instead of text links—that aren’t crowded by overwhelming design boost conversion by 28%. The button is hard to miss and easily stands out so that more readers are likely to click on it and convert.

5. Animated GIFs are in style

GIFs are a great alternative to videos since not all email providers support video. They “add an element of surprise and delight to your emails,” and only need a little more file space than JPEG images. They’re easy to use, and you upload them the same way you would an image file. The result is a design that grabs readers’ attention. A word of caution, though: use GIFs sparingly to optimize space and remove distractions.Twitter Logo

Instead of showing a long list of the same product in different colors, this Monica Vinader email uses a GIF to illustrate the colors this particular bracelet is available in. The design is crisp and clean and gives the reader a quick look at the variety.

GIFs have a knack for being attention-grabbers. That’s why they increase click-through rates by 26%. They get more engagement—and the more engaged readers are, the more likely they are to click through and convert.

Check out these 7 tips for designing awesome animated GIFs. Keep in mind that recipients using Outlook 2007, 2010, and 2013 will only see the first frame because these versions don’t support GIFs. Put all of your important information on the first frame to make sure readers see it—and to have a better chance of converting them.

6. A personalized experience goes a long way

While personalizing emails isn’t technically a design feature, these emails treat readers as individuals and not just a long list of names and email addresses. For example, segment your email list and send emails that they can relate to. So if your fashion line caters to men and women, don’t send the same email to everyone. Instead send offers based on gender.

Another way to personalize emails is to send special offers to celebrate milestones like subscription anniversaries or reader birthdays. You can even reference tidbits from past purchases in your campaigns.

That’s what Birchbox does. They send out birthday promo emails and they include product recommendations based on past purchases. This extra step makes the email even more personalized and engaging. Personalized email campaigns increase click-through rates by an average of 14% and conversions by 10%.

Also, something as simple as adding the reader’s first name in emails boosts open rates by 42%. It’s because seeing their name makes them stop and take a second look instead of automatically deleting the email.

In Campaign Monitor you can take this one step further by using personalization tags to customize things like the email’s “From Name.” This makes it seem like your emails are coming from a person and not a machine. It adds to the overall customer experience to increase conversion rates. People are going to open emails that seem like they’re from someone they know versus a company name or something else generic.

There’s so much to choose from

There are lots of design variations to try. That’s why it’s important to know who your subscribers are and what they need from you.

It’s a little like trial and error test variations of copy, image placement, colors, and CTA buttons. When you find a template that works the best, stick with it and tweak it as you go.

The response you get from readers—like open and click-through rates—will give you an indication of how well your campaigns are performing. Increasing conversions and ROI means that you’re onto something.

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