Dreaming Up Emails: The Rudiments Of Good Design

Successful email design is based on three C’s: creative, content and coding, according to 2023 Trends in Email Design, a how-to study by Data Axle. 

Specifically, this means that creative must be fresh, simple and to the point, coding responsive and readable, with images-off, and content value-added. 

To illustrate this agenda, the study lists several email campaigns that can serve as potential models.  

One is the template system utilized by Spartan, the athletic endurance company. For instance, one screen features the Workout of the Day: Strength. "Hosted fonts over expansive background images embodies the ‘can-do’ spirit that Spartan is known for," the study says. "Loads of sticky content about recipes and workouts adds value and keeps racers opening and engaged."

Then there is Marriott Rewards, which modernized its brand with a new campaign slogan, "You Are Here." "This template overhaul represents the best of modern email design: HTML headlines floating over background images, mobile image swaps, CSS drop shadows, CTA hovers, and custom fonts," the study notes. 



Marriott provides another winning template system for its Marriott Traveler. The hotel chain "regularly publishes fascinating travel articles and this master template system was designed to read like an editorial travel magazine. Full of useful and interesting content, this travel newsletter enjoys strong open and engagement from its readers."

Another hostelry, Choice Hotels, employs “bold colors and energetic photography, plus unique touches such as mouse-over effects on buttons and web-fonts. For even more engagement, a dynamic user-activity bar appears as the second module in all monthly newsletters.”

West Marine takes a different approach: It uses both targeted email and direct mail postcards to "drive purchases from former customers who have gone quiet."

Paypal uses a simple design for its transaction template system. This "email workhorse notifies users of all transactions in a clean, simple interface." For example: "You paid $38 to Merchant XYZ."

Meanwhile, Community Coffee serves up a "delicious welcome series campaign to new subscribers. This series of emails informs users and gathers more information about them that allows further customization of the emails they will receive."

And eBay took the approach "I sell, so I can…" The study notes that this campaign rejected common stock photography and instead "found actual sellers and featured them and the reasons why they sell on eBay, such as travel, art or family." 

The study can be found here.
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