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Email Design Trends Within Your Reach – Oh, The Places You Can Go With Them

You know how sometimes you look at an email design and think it’s nice but there’s nothing really ‘wow’ about it? You can’t expect sudden improvements in results if you keep on using the same old tricks over and over again. These email design trends can help you escape that hamster wheel and spice up your email newsletters!

Enter ‘email design trends’ into the Google search box and you’ll find millions of opinions on what’s hot and what’s not. I see a lot of email template designs every day and often ask myself why marketers pass up on the email design opportunities that are out there. Here I’ve come up with a list of email design trends that are worth checking out. Please note that all the design effects described below work only for iOS mail and Mac OS mail clients. More details on client support for each design effect you will find in every sub-section. Let’s dive right into it!

The Rise of the Emojis  😎

Emojis have become the staple of modern communication, and consequently, their usage in emails is on the rise 😉 . The planes, the multi-colored hearts, the lurking smilies, the thumbs-up are all now permanent residents of our email inboxes. Use emojis to add that splash of color and fun to your email content and subject line to attract readers’ attention. So many people these days use emojis in their daily communication that, by using them in your emails, you’ll fit right in.

According to one Experian study, 56% of brands experienced higher open rates when using symbols in subject lines. However, Econsultancy states that not all emojis generate the same response – there are some that seem to encourage recipients to open emails and those that seem to do the opposite.

Mailigen emoji

Beware! Emojis are not for all occasions, and certainly not for everyone. There’s probably no room for emojis in very professional, button-down emails. And be warned: there are people out there who hate emojis. Passionately. One Vanity Fair article recently called using emojis “an evolutionary step backwards” 😳 .

Delightful Moving Images In Email Design Trends

Make your email design more dynamic and attention-grabbing by using animation, video and GIFs. They make emails just so much better, don’t you agree? Animation delights, video demonstrates and the GIF is just a great tool for conveying emotion are one of the most amazing email design trends. Copy can do that too, but GIFs speak volumes. They say a picture is worth a thousand words; with well-selected GIFs or videos you can multiply this effect by three.

Statistics confirm this. According to Red Website Design, emails with videos or GIFs have:

  • 55% more clicks;
  • 41% more shares; and generate
  • 24% more conversions.

Here’s a little break-down of pros and cons.

HTML animation has several practical benefits. It can be developed quicker and weighs less that GIF animation, so there are no worries about email size. Use HTML animation to create eye-catching details that will delight your subscribers. Downside – HTML works only for iOS mail and Mac OS mail clients.

Mailigen sign up

GIFs have that ‘viral’ factor and the ability to tap into pop-culture references thanks to the extensive GIF libraries on the web. They’re an excellent way of conveying emotions.

Mailigen gif animation

Video is the ‘all-in’ bet in email design trends. Naturally, video can make an email heavier, and if you want to pull off something super-complicated you’ll need a certain skill-set. However, simply embedding a video in an email is a walk in the park with the Mailigen Drag’n’Drop Editor.

Mailigen video

Having video as a background in your emails goes to the next level and will require some more skill – but it’s totally worth it! Want to try it out? Get in touch with the Mailigen Template Factory and we’ll work it out for you.

Mailigen video with text

An important note – video and GIFs work only for iOS mail, Mac OS mail and Gmail clients.

Hover. Slide. And Have a Hamburger!

Now we’ll introduce three email-design elements or effects that not only leave a great impression but also optimize space in email templates.

Hover effect. Use hover effect to add that extra dynamic to your emails.

  • Hover effect responds to mouse movements and highlights a certain section of the email. So, interactive – check!
  • Sleek – check! There’s that magical ‘techy’ touch but nothing over the top.
  • Reader-friendly – check! The highlighting effect allows the recipient to focus on one thing at a time.

Mailigen hover effect

Include picture sliders to create visually rich emails and include more images without taking up more space. The picture slider is a functional email-design element that’s especially great for emails that live and breathe images and photography. Images are not scattered all over the email template but placed in one block where they change automatically or when clicked on.


Use a hamburger menu to package your email menu content in a way that is suitable for viewing on screens of all sizes. These three horizontal lines – that look somewhat like a hamburger – are becoming more and more widely used. The collapsible hamburger menu packs the content into one small icon and reveals it when clicked or touched. This way you can:

  • save space;
  • avoid unwanted distractions.

Mailigen hamburger menu

Although hamburger menus are becoming more and more popular, for now it’s best to add the word “Menu” to the icon because there are still many people who are not familiar with it.

These three design effects work only for iOS mail and Mac OS mail clients.


Play with time by adding countdown clocks to your email campaign. Email marketers can never avoid dabbling in psychology. Time is a concept that is especially easy to play with and use to one’s advantage in email marketing. There are at least two ways to play out a time countdown in an email campaign: by creating an aura of immediacy to generate a motivation to act “before it’s not too late”, or by building expectation for something that is “coming soon”. Ever tried that?

If your clients and subscribers are scattered all over the world, you’ll be familiar with the Time Zone Challenge. Email campaigns with special time-limited offers need disclaimers that the offer is valid until a certain date and time in a certain time zone. With countdown clocks, there’s no need for such disclaimers as the recipient can clearly see when time will run out.

Mailigen timer

Google Fonts that Please the Eye

Use Google fonts to create copy that is pleasing to the eye. With Google fonts you can create email templates that are more accurately fitted to your brand image. There are around 700 different Google fonts, so you’ll surely find one that fits your brand to a T. Google fonts can also add diversity to your email newsletters and campaigns.

Mailigen Google fonts

If you’re interested in using Google fonts (and you should be), here’s some practical reading on how to use Google fonts in your email templates. Keep in mind that Google fonts are supported by iOS mail and Mac OS mail, Outlook 2000/2011, Lotus Notes version 8 and 8.5, Thunderbird, and Android 2.3./4.2. Ironically enough, though, not by Gmail.

In fact, I’ve written this whole section using Google fonts!

Vector Images for Impeccable Quality

With screen technologies becoming more and more sophisticated, email image quality has to keep up. If you’ve ever received an email with poor-quality images, you’ll know that it can leave a bad impression. Vector images are the solution, at least for animated images. Vector images have high image quality that remains unchanged no matter how close you zoom in. They’re also very light. It’s basically witchcraft.

Mailigen vector image

If you use animated drawings in your email-newsletter design, vector images can provide you with that superior image quality that distinguishes pros from rookies.

However, vector images are also supported only by iOS mail and Mac OS mail clients.

Making a Landing Page the Ultimate Destination

Invest in designing special landing pages tailored to specific email marketing campaigns. Email is only half of the story in email marketing. Email marketers do everything in their power to get that ‘click’ that takes a subscriber to a faraway place in the World Wide Web – the landing page. Landing page design is just as important as email design because it is the place where conversions take place.

Developing a landing page should be on the to-do list for any business without a website. A landing page can serve multiple purposes (informing, subscribing, etc.); it’s not just the place where subscribers are taken after clicking.

Creating a landing page is easy these days; you can even buy a ready-made one. If you’re keen to start from scratch, you can either code it from the ground up or use one of the Drag’n’Drop editors, which can be found online.

Email Marketing Crystal Ball

If the previously described email design trends have already gained some ground, the following have only recently appeared on the horizon. Here are three design trends or challenges that we believe you should spend some time pondering.

  • Designing email for smartwatches. The smartwatch trend really has to get email marketers thinking because there are so many limitations associated with viewing email on a watch, no matter how smart it is. First, the display is small. Second, they cannot support all the design magic that you may want to include in your emails. For now, your best bet when sending smartwatch-friendly emails is short ‘n’ sweet copy with that optional emoji to liven it up.

Design For Smartwatches Mailigen

  • Email with a live Twitter feed. This is an awesome way to provide dynamic content to subscribers and keep them up to speed with the latest buzz. Litmus experience shows that adding a live Twitter feed is great for encouraging subscriber engagement – people will tweet just to see if their tweet will show up in the live feed.

Mailigen Twitter feed

  • Shopping right in the email. It’s hard to imagine businesses ever passing up the opportunity to make it easier for people to buy stuff, so keep an eye out for this email marketing game-changer. Imagine buying a pair of shoes – the size you need, the color you want – without even leaving the email. It’s the holy grail of interaction! There are issues that need sorting out to make shopping in emails safe and convenient, but it’s only a matter of time. If you’re intrigued, check out RebelMail, who provide email checkout options for e-commerce companies.

Shop in email

Whatever you do, just don’t…

  • Use Javascript in your emails, as that increases the risk of your emails ending up in your customers’ spam folders;
  • Use Flash banners;
  • Include sign-up forms in emails – for now, emails are not built for that.

Remember – email template design is not web design. There are certain limitations that have to be taken into account but these should not keep you from creating attractive and interactive email design that will speak to subscribers.

Parting Words of Email Design Wisdom

Email design trends matter. Content has most value – the information, the knowledge, the offers – but it is best received when packaged attractively. Here are some parting words of email design wisdom.

  • Client segmentation is not just important for messaging but also for design. Not all email clients support all these design tricks, so you’ll need to tailor your designs to certain groups of subscribers. Outlook tends to cause the most headaches because it doesn’t support many of the features discussed here, while iOS and OS X supports most of them.
  • Don’t go overboard with images. To paraphrase Winnie the Pooh: “You never can tell with images…”. They get blocked for certain email clients or can have problems loading, so it is best to keep key information off images and in text; otherwise there’s a risk that your message will not be delivered. Use Alt Text to make sure your message is seen even if images are not!

Try out these email design trends in your next email campaign and woo your subscribers with creative and interactive design that is hard to ignore and pleasing to look at! Need some advice? Don’t hesitate to contact Mailigen Template Factorywe’re always up to a challenge!

Email Design Trends Within Your Reach – Oh, The Places You Can Go With Them
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