According to, people spend just four seconds deciding whether to read an email or not. Customers make a lot of these decisions subconsciously when an email is seen at a glance, therefore careful consideration needs to be taken regarding all design features of your email campaigns.

Yes, testing subject lines and preheader text are essential practices when creating your campaigns, and should be done with meticulous scrutiny; but analysing design elements are just as important (if not more!).

In this post, I’ll discuss some of the key principles of effective email design; getting it on point and, importantly, consistent. To see part one, click here.


The layout of your email has a huge impact on customer interaction, and is vitally important in maintaining the interest of the customer. Ideally you want email campaigns which keep the customers attention and drive traffic to your website, while still being in keeping with the style and essence of your brand.

Call to Action

A very important component to any email campaign is the call to action. This is what will drive the traffic to your site. First, identify your call to action and put it at the top of your email in a prominent place (your less important information can go below). Next, try to make your CTA stand out; use bold colours with a contrasting background, and eye-catching copy.

It's important to keep the email concise and to the point. Avoid bombarding your customers with unnecessary copy; a cluttered page with text all over the place can be distracting and off-putting. Scale back the copy to include only your key messages.

Images and Graphics

Similar care needs to be taken when using images and graphics. Think about the amount of time a user will look at an email – studies have suggested this can be as short as 15 seconds. Do you really want your customers to spend those 15 seconds looking at reams of unnecessary images? Try and put images in a logical order, so that the user can follow them in the intended sequence. Avoid any unnecessary images which don’t add any value to your message, and remember, a few large images always work better than many small ones.

Discount Codes

Finally, any discount codes or promotions should go at the top of the page, so your customer can see them easily. Speaking of discount codes, make sure to include them in your email as html rather than as an image, so your customers can copy and paste them easily at checkout.


Style Guides

If you create your campaigns within a team, consider making a style guide. This should include brand colours, fonts, imagery, logos, patterns, and brand messaging. You can make it a pdf, or try out more sophisticated tools such as Frontify or

When creating your style guide, consider how it will be used. Most people will use it for reference, and won’t read it cover to cover. Therefore, make the guide easy to navigate with headers and a table of contents, and avoid long paragraphs and prose. Update it regularly!

If you don’t know where to start, thousands are available online. Here’s my three top picks:

Google’s Material Design

Google’s Material Design is an extensive style guide that is frequently being updated. You can see design guides for all of Google’s products including Android, Gmail, Google Maps, and YouTube. Although these guides are very specific to Google, they are a great starting point in creating your own style guide. They cover topics such as colour, fonts and images, as well as more complex design elements such as animation and responsive UI.



Facebook has a style guide tailored specifically for external companies, such as brands linking to their Facebook profile or developers creating apps for the platform. Facebook, along with Apple, interacts with thousands of companies who use their branding for marketing purposes; therefore their style guides have to contain strict design policies to ensure the quality of this marketing material.


Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet’s style guide is very easy to navigate via a simple menu system. It not only outlines its design elements, but also demonstrates its short scripts and widgets. Ian Feather, the guide’s designer, has written an excellent blog post detailing the importance of having a living style guide which is never static or unchanging.

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Wrapping Up

The tips outlined in this blog are just a few of the many which you will have to consider when it comes to creating your email campaigns. Understanding the basics of effective email design will put you on the right track for a campaign which is consistent, appealing, and effective. Remember, an attractive layout, coupled with relevant and concise content, are key in keeping the attention of the customer and in promoting interaction.

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