6 Email Design Tips to Increase Engagement (and Conversions!) 

29 Jul
6 Email Design Tips to Increase Engagement (and Conversions!) 

Do you ever head to your inbox only to find piles of unread emails screaming for your attention? 

This is a struggle we all face, including your target audience. The content overload can be so overwhelming that users might ignore (or even delete!) your emails. 

You don’t want to let your hard work go to waste, right? We think not! 

Lucky for you, we have a solution. Using certain email design tools, you can optimize your emails from the moment you press send. We’ll explore six email design tips to raise conversion rates, brand awareness, and engagement. 

Let’s get started! 

1. Build an email marketing style guide 

Email marketing guides maintain your email brand and keep your team on the same page.  


So, what should you include in your email guide? Here are nine options: 

1. Hierarchy - Your go-to email layout 

2. Images - Size, style, and placement 

3. Logo - Placement 

4. Color scheme - Three to five colors for your emails. Most companies use its brand colors, but you can also get inspiration from color scheme generators like Coolors

5. Text - Tone and style 

6. Typography - Font style for headers and text. Font and Colors can give you some ideas!

7. CTA buttons - Placement, color, and number of buttons 

8. Links - The color of your links and how they should be written 

9. What to avoid - Certain jargon, images, etc. 

With a style guide in place, you and your team can consistently add the right email design elements. However, if you want people to see your email design, you’ll need to increase open rates with a catchy subject line. 


2. Write a punchy subject line 

Great email subject lines embody three traits: Curious, personable, and short. 

  • Curious: Readers click because they want to know more 
  • Personable: The subject lines call out to a specific reader 
  • Short: You can read the subject line in three seconds or less

“Free Queso Mondays” gets your attention in a few ways. 

First, they pique interest with the word “Free”—who doesn’t like free things? And second, placing the emojis between each word catches your eye from plain old text. 

This next subject line pumps the gas on curiosity. 

This example works if you’re sending it to the right person. A loyal shopper will read this and think, “What’s back? I need to know!”. But a one-time buyer might surf past this email. 

Using customer data, this brand could send this subject line to big buyers or even its loyalty program and write another version for new shoppers. They could also use Sendlane’s multivariate testing and see if the subject line’s converting. 

Alright, on to the next one! 

While discount subject lines aren’t exactly creative, they’re great at attracting frequent buyers. 

The formula is simple: (Brand) (Discount) for (Event).

You can even spruce it up with one emoji at the beginning or end of the subject line. 

Or, why not personalize your efforts and add your readers’ names? 

Adding a name is a sure-fire way to get more opens. HubSpot found that emails with a name had higher click-through rates! (Psst… Sendlane can personalize each subject line with the reader’s name in a flash!). 

If you can’t think of a good subject line, grab a testimonial and throw it in the ring! 

This example evokes curiosity. Who is obsessed with what? Should I be, too? 

Besides, nine of out of ten customers read reviews on their own. Take advantage of this opportunity and send your best reviews via email! 

Catchy subject lines increase open rates, but the next step is making sure readers engage with your email content. Responsive email templates are one way to do that.

3. Optimize for mobile devices 

Mobile-friendly solutions are coming up as the number one email design tip. 

With more people opening emails on their phones, responsive design is no longer an option but a necessity.

Luckily, responsive templates are easily accessible. Knowledge of code is no longer needed when you have robust email software.


Design your emails, and Sendlane will compress your desktop version into a mobile-friendly email! 

While Sendlane has the responsive layout down, it’s up to you to integrate other features, like: 

  • Readable font: Save the curvy font for certain elements, like headers, and use block font for chunks of text. Make sure people can read your content! 
  • White space: Your emails shouldn’t resemble a textbook. Use white space to spread out your content. 
  • Alt text: Adding alternative text to your images allows people with visual impairments to enjoy your media. It also helps people with bad internet connection understand slow-loading images.  

Responsive emails maintain your design while reaching out to more users. Add a dash of dynamic content, and you’ve got an optimized email design! 

4. Personalize email campaigns with dynamic content 

Dynamic emails change based on the person who opens your emails. You can base dynamic content on behaviors and preferences, like: 

  • Demographics 
  • Psychographics 
  • Mobile vs. desktop 
  • Most-used products 
  • Location 

The first step to dynamic marketing is gathering appropriate data. Sendlane tracks each customer journey from the moment someone visits your site. From here, you’ll use this data to personalize each email experience. 

Nordstrom, for example, increases engagement with certain clothing based on the reader’s location and weather.  


Another way to use location is by adding a real-time countdown to your email design! 


A countdown adds urgency to future events and sales. Plus, they’re interactive—a big email design trend this year. 

And you can’t forget about the famous product recommendation email.


Product recommendation emails aren’t just personable—they re-engage with inactive customers. Think about it… wouldn’t an email filled with your favorite goodies win back your interest, too? We think yes! 

Dynamic emails are easy to create when you’ve got a multivariate segmentation strategy in place. Sendlane can separate customer data into personalized email funnels. Now you can send emails based on your users’ interests and behaviors! 

5. Evoke emotion with color psychology 

Quick question: How does this email make you feel? 


Do you feel calm? Serene? Peaceful? Us, too! 

Okay, how about this next email? 

Maybe your tranquil feelings suddenly shifted to something more bold and feminine. You can thank color psychology for that! 

Color psychology is the study of how certain colors affect our mood and behavior. It’s most popularly used in interior design, art, and marketing. 

This “Color Emotion Guide” shows how companies use certain colors to portray a brand identity. 


Apple, for example, applies “Balanced” colors to its brand. It pushes down on this identity with a minimal email design. 

There is nothing complicated about this email. It’s easy on the eyes, and you can read it in five seconds. Simplicity at its finest! 

Color psychology works best when it coincides with your brand. Consider your brand’s traits, mission, and overall design. Then, use certain colors to bring those features out! 

The goal is to drive more users to your CTA buttons with certain colors and visuals. And speaking of call-to-action buttons, colors may also influence how likely someone will click. 

6. Create strong call-to-action buttons

CTA buttons transport your email list to your website, landing page, and products—wherever you want them to go! 

You can optimize your CTA button design in a few ways: 

1. Color

If you’ve looked into CTA button colors, you’ve probably run into the red vs. green case study. In this experiment, the red buttons outperformed the green buttons. 

So does this mean you have to add red CTA buttons? 

Nope! There are many reasons why participants opted for the red button—one being that it contrasted better with the email background. 

Rather than going for red, choose a CTA color that stands out from the rest of your email design. 


See how this pink CTA button contrasts with the black background? It’s easy to see and click! 

2. Responsiveness 

Most brands create CTA buttons with images. But here’s the problem—images don’t always load. 


Poor loading speed will load your emails without images and remove all the work you put into your buttons. 

Not to worry! You can avoid this by creating “bulletproof” CTA buttons. Bulletproof buttons use certain code to create static buttons, no matter how bad the internet connection is. 

You can either work with a developer or look into bulletproof button generators

3. Placement 

According to Databox, most marketers stick with one CTA button. 

You’ll usually find this button at the bottom of an email. But if someone exits before finishing your email, they’ll never see the button! 

A quick fix is adding a second call to action at the top. 


Depending on your content, a third CTA button might even benefit your conversion rates. It all depends on your email design—where are your readers’ eyes going? And how can they navigate your buttons with ease?

4. Text 

We’ve all seen the go-to CTA copy: 

  • Learn more 
  • Buy now
  • Try for free 
  • Start free trial 

These are great options, but taking a personalized approach might suit your fancy, too! Try connecting users to the offer by adding “Me” or “I” in the text. 

Another option is writing copy specific to your brand. 

Example: A CBD beverage brand could say: 

  • Take a sip vs. Buy now 
  • Get a free 12-pack vs. Try for free 
  • Why CBD? Vs. Learn more  

There’s so much you can do to improve your CTA buttons. Avoid the overwhelm and start with one feature at a time. You can even A/B test along the way and see which changes provide immediate results! 


Email design is more than pretty visuals  

Looking back at these email design tips, you may notice that design has more to do with optimization and less to do with attractive features. 

The goal of email design is to provide a positive user experience while increasing conversions—making optimization a necessary part of the design! 

Optimizing your emails isn’t so complicated with data-driven software like Sendlane. Here are just a few ways Sendlane can drive more sales: 

  • A/B test subject lines, CTA buttons, and images 
  • Collect customer data and segment users into personalized email lists 
  • Convert desktop emails into a responsive layout 
  • Measure real-time analytics and present them on a user-friendly dashboard 

Want to see these features in action? Give us a 60-day test run and see how Sendlane can put your email design to work. 

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