4 Crucial Elements of Email Design

Email marketing is a crucial part of any business and if you want it to be effective you need to understand the Email design elements for an effective layout.

4 Crucial Elements of Email Design

Photo by Mailchimp on Unsplash


In this post let’s understand the essential aspects of email marketing that ensure better engagement and higher interactivity. An email shouldn’t only be written well. It should also be designed well, and engage readers with attractive design, and choice of fonts, colors, and images. While you can always leverage the power of on- page SEO tactics to send traffic to your site and get leads, the remaining work falls squarely on email design.

1. Email layout

How well you lay out the structure of your email content creates a flow of information that determines how smoothly someone transfers from one section to the next. This is crucial for conversions.


As such, the more scannable your email is,  the more readers are going to read it. That’s why you need to nail the layout right first. Plenty of email marketing software like Mailmodo, or ActiveCamapaign will allow you to structure your layout any way you want to. They have templates, and a variety of choices, that give you the freedom to pick fonts, experiment with layouts, and more. You can also design custom templates and save them for future use.


Here’s an example of a scannable email. Each sentence is in a new line:

You can pick from a variety of email design layouts like:

  1. The inverted pyramid layout
  2. The F-pattern layout
  3. Double column
  4. Zig zag
  5. Hybrid layout


Here’s a two-column design:

Of these layouts, the single-column layout is the most preferred, as this makes the email available to all irrespective of device limitations.


Let’s demystify the most common components of email layout:

  • Pre-header: The pre-header appears before the main header and usually builds the brand identity with the help of a logo, navigational links, or anything else.
  • Top fold/hero: This is the part that is visible to the reader without him having to scroll down any further. As such the importance of this section cannot be understated as the words present here have the power to hook readers and compel them to action.
  • Email footer: The email footer is present at the bottom of the email and has information like the social share buttons, an email signature, unsubscribe links, privacy policy as well as the physical address of your business.


2. Typography

We understand typography mostly through fonts although there’s more to it.


Typically fonts are either clubbed into web fonts or web-safe fonts.


If the brand personality is traditional like a credit card site, or an insurance site, go for Helvetica or Times New Roman. 


For non-traditional businesses, like a yoga bar, Open Sans is a more relevant choice. It signals a young and fun brand. Ultimately, what you choose boils down to the kind of personality you want to exude. Web fonts allow you to express your creativity. As the reader scans the email, typography comes to your rescue and presents anchor points to capture the reader’s attention as it orders your content starting from the most important to the least important. You can leverage font styles, weight, size, and even color to make an impact on the reader and present your content with some pomp.

Check the readability of the font you use

Aside from the written text, how the text shows up in the recipient’s inbox also affects readability. 

That’s why you should keep an eye on typography.


The font size and weight should favor the readers and help them access the content without additional effort. For better readability, choose a font size that’s easy on the eyes while also being careful against choosing a font that makes someone squint.

3. Imagery

Images are how you make your emails appealing. It’s your chance to showcase brand value by adding your image assets such as graphics, logos, banners, etc.


But you cannot add a simple image and call it a day. A good email design has everything like image file type, image load time, accessibility, and types of images to add already set up.


  • For static imagery, use PNG and JPEG formats
  • For animated images, use GIFs and APNGs.

Size of the image

Images play a big role in deciding the email size. So keep sizes low by compressing images. You can use design tools like Adobe Photoshop or other tools like TinyPNG to keep things within limits.



That’s not all, you can add icons to make email visually attractive. A good rule of thumb is to start using social media icons. 


Here’s why icons matter. Icons illustrate list items, steps, or processes and help you create a visual hierarchy such as with arrows.


The icons should support the text.


Never use generic images that add very little value. Images should be relevant to the email copy and supplement your message. Also if you’re downloading stock images, consider licensing and copyright as well. Add images only after you get the permissions required from the source.

4. Buttons

Buttons are the clickable element used for email calls to action. Ask yourself how you would like to add your CTA button. Would they be square or have rounded edges?


With or without spacings?


Do they come with an outline or with a background color?


Based on how many times these buttons appear they can be divided into different categories:

Primary CTA buttons

The main action that you want the recipient to take. It should be presented in a prominent position and must appeal to the reader. 


The same applies to lead magnets. Typically if you wrap a lead magnet inside a container and highlight it by choosing a color that stands out you get more clicks to it. Images of people looking at the lead magnet typically draw the eye toward it and is a common technique to get attention. Look at the email from Brain.fm and how it draws attention to the CTA with a bold black container.

Secondary CTA buttons

Any action you want users to take aside from the main action is secondary. Distinguish the CTA from the primary to not divert the user’s attention from the main action.

  • Use a light color than the primary CTA
  • Experiment with different button designs
  • Reduce the button size


If you have more than one CTA in your email, it bodes well to separate the primary and secondary CTA buttons with different sizing options and color choices.

Here are important considerations for a CTA:


Define the purpose

An email needs a purpose and does a CTA.  To define its purpose ask yourself these three questions:


  • What do I want my subscribers to do?
  • How will they do what they do?
  • Why should they do it?


A CTA should provide value to the subscriber. Whether it’s explicitly stated or not, it should aim at explaining what they stand to get for the time spent.

Answering these questions helps you drill down to the value and convey it well.

Consider your language

Then there’s the language used in the CTA. It can be Book now, Get the Discount, Read more, Click here, or anything else that invites action.



What do you think of the different aspects of email design that go into your email marketing strategy and help you score more wins? With the help of your blog, and lead-generating tactics like guest posts, you can collect email addresses. Email marketing isn’t dead. It helps you cultivate strong relationships and allows you to persuade prospects of the quality of your services.