<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none;" alt="" src="https://px.ads.linkedin.com/collect/?pid=1360553&amp;fmt=gif">

Updated August 30, 2021

Newsletter How To Design Emails That Convert

How To Design Emails That Convert

Your email design is what shapes your reader's attention (and ultimately decides whether they convert). Get 9 tips and examples to start designing emails that drive sales.


Email design is an incredibly important piece of your email marketing puzzle.

You can nail your subject line and preview text and get your subscribers interested enough to open your emails, but if they're not well-designed and appealing to look at, you're not going to get the results you want.

Your emails should be an extension of your website. If your website isn't professional looking and easy to navigate, your visitors will bounce. Well, the same thing is true for your emails. That's why it's so important to invest in your email design.

Keep reading to find out how to design emails that convert.

In this guide, you'll learn:

Why does good email design matter? 

Think about the marketing emails you receive on a daily basis. You couldn't possibly read all of them top to bottom, right? So you open the ones with email subject lines that stand out. But even then, you're probably not reading the entire email. You skim to make sure the information is relevant and interesting to you.

Well, your subscribers' inboxes are just as hectic. Which is why good email design matters now more than ever.

The design of your emails has the power to either capture their attention enough to keep them engaged and follow your CTA (and eventually convert) or cause them to disregard your messaging entirely.

So before you send the next email to your list, make sure it's well-designed and attention-grabbing. And once you have a handful of templates you (and your subscribers) love, you'll be on your way to creating emails that bring in sales for your store. 

Good email design communicates your message

The design of your email should showcase your message in a prominent and visually appealing way. So make sure your main message is easy to spot immediately when your subscribers open your emails.

If they have to search for the CTA or are left wondering what you actually wanted them to take away from your message, you didn't make it clear enough. Your design can help you change that. 

Good email design drives engagement

The whole point of an email marketing strategy for your store is to encourage your email list to engage with your business. Well, the design of your emails can help you get that engagement you're looking for. 

Because engagement means your emails captivating enough to get your subscribers to interact with it. So make your CTA buttons stand out to encourage those clicks. Make sure your images are clickable and drive traffic to your store. There's so much you can do on the design side to improve the engagement with your emails.

Good email design improves conversion rate

When your email design tells a story and walks readers through that story in a way that's intuitive and engaging, you'll be able to get your subscribers to take action, improving the conversion rate for your emails.

Whether you want readers to check out a new product, complete a purchase, sign up for a waitlist, or take any other action, your email design is a powerful way to drive conversion. So make sure you take the time to make it engaging.

Good email design builds brand recognition

When you design your emails with a consistent layout, style, and tone, your readers will recognize who they're coming from right away. Add in your brand colors and images that make it abundantly clear and your readers will never mistake your emails for anyone else's.

That's exactly what you're looking for with your email design. A way for your subscribers to know in a split second who they're coming from. And if you send enough amazing emails, this recognition will turn into loyalty.

9 email design tips to level up your email campaigns

Now that you know why good email design is critical for your store, it's time to talk about email design tips that will help you create effective campaigns that you and your subscribers will love.

Use these 9 design tips to get started:

Be consistent with branding

Consistent email design will help to build brand affinity and loyalty. The more consistent you are in your messages and marketing touchpoints, the more brand recognition and trust you can build with prospective buyers.

Your subscribers should open your email and immediately know it's from you. That means you should include a logo, similar layout, colors, and style across your emails to make it abundantly clear.

Define your layout

Most commonly, people think of templates, fonts, and brand settings when talking about email design.

But another important factor is the layout of your email. This is what guides your readers from beginning to end and either engages them enough to keep them scrolling (and eventually to take action) or to move on.

So, while you create your email design, think about how you’ll structure your email to make it flow and keep readers interested.

Plan your content blocks

An important piece of your layout includes the content blocks you include. These are your text boxes, images, call to action, header/footer, and any other significant sections of your email.

These content blocks should all come together to create an engaging email your readers will want to keep reading.

One message per email

Every email you send should have a primary focus. You don't want to confuse or distract your readers with too many calls to action (CTAs).

Make your message clear and readable so your readers are able to easily digest your message and know exactly what you want them to do.

After you write your email, take a step back and read it out loud to yourself. If you find yourself confused or stumbling at any point, it's a great sign you should go back through and simplify it.

Design by email type

There are 7 core types of emails that you should include in your email marketing strategy. And each of them require a different type of email design. To help you determine your design strategy, think about the intent and how far along they are with your business (have they purchased from you multiple times or are they brand new?).

Welcome email design

Your welcome email design should be relatively simple. An image of you, the founder, is a great way to introduce yourself and connect a face to your business in your subscribers' minds.

Include your logo, a blurb about your story and the inspiration for your business. Again, keep the design simple here.

Abandoned cart email design

Your abandoned cart email design is another one that should be pretty simple. The goal here is to get the visitors who've never made a purchase to complete their first with the items they left in their cart.

So an image of the product(s) they left behind and a little text with a customer support focus is a great way to get some engagement.

Newsletter email design

The design for your newsletter emails can include more images and text than your welcome and abandoned cart emails. 

Just make sure they're relevant to the audience you're sending to and aren't overwhelming. You should have a handful of templates you use for your newsletters that you can easily tweak to fit your messaging.

Promotional email design

Your promotional email design (for something like a sale, for example) can be really similar to your newsletter design. 

You should include room for images and text and the main message you want subscribers to take away should be immediately clear.

Review email design

When you ask for a review after a customer makes a purchase, the priority is to get them to leave that. So again, the design here can be really simple. 

Include text about why reviews matter for your business, make sure there's an incentive, and try to include an image of the product(s) they purchased. 

Referral email design

Like your review email design, referral emails have one purpose. To get your email list to share your business with their friends and family. 

So keep it simple. Include a few images that showcase your business, an incentive to get your subscribers to share, and some space for text to explain your referral program.

Upsell and cross-sell email design

With your upsell and cross-sell email design, you want to showcase the product you're hoping this specific customer will love. So an image or two will go a long way. So will a text box explaining why this product is perfect for them. 

Prioritize responsive email design

Remember that your prospective buyers are reading their emails on all different devices using different email providers. This means your email isn’t going to show up perfectly for everyone, unless you take the time to prioritize how you customize your design settings.

A responsive email design will automatically adjust to fit to the screen it's being viewed on and ensure your emails are showing up correctly for your subscribers.

Get creative with GIFs and animations

Because GIFs use motion, they are a great way to share your message and capture the attention of your readers.

Whether you create a GIF that showcases your product or a customer review, there are tons of ways to use GIFs to level up your message.

Use emojis to stand out

Just like GIFs, emojis are another fun way to make your message stand out and capture attention. But it’s important not to overdo it. Don't use 10 emojis in a row, it feels spammy. But if you use them like you would when you're talking to a friend, they'll feel natural and actually add to your message rather than distracting from it.

Experiment with images

Do your readers like multiple images or do they typically click on the very first image they see? What if you use a grid with multiple images?

When it comes to your emails (and specifically their design), it's important to always be testing. Figure out what works for your brand and make tweaks from there! Because these learnings will add up to better results over time if you really pay attention and spot the trends.

Test your CTAs

Your call to action (CTA) is what you want your subscribers to do after reading your emails. You might be asking them to check out a best-seller, or sign up for a waitlist, or maybe you want them to read your latest blog post about the best ways to use your product. 

Here's an email marketing tip to boost conversion rates: Make it a point to try out different CTAs in your messages and always make sure you're paying attention to how you're asking them to take that action. Is it a link that's part of a block of text? A button? There are so many options when it comes to getting your subscribers to act that you should always be testing and getting better.


Great email designs with Privy (and why they're killing it!)

If you're not sure where to start when it comes to designing emails that convert, nothing is more powerful than seeing real examples.

So take a peek at these 4 email designs to get inspiration before you click send on your next email campaign.

Welcome email design that makes a human connection

In this welcome email, Old Try makes the brand feel human, warm, and inviting, by showing the faces behind their family-run print business:

A great example of how a simple and clear email design can tell a powerful story and reinforce a strong call to action (their unique discount code is clickable and brings you back to their store).

Newsletter email design that offers a solution

A huge part of successful marketing is showing your prospects and customers what your products could look like in their day to day lives. In this example, Rebel Chic gives readers ideas for styling one of their products, the "Can't be tamed dress."

Look at the way they use numbers and left to right formatting to shape how you read through the message. My eyes immediately followed the journey they set up - which means I read and noticed each example they gave for styling the product. And after seeing it tie together, you can easily click to replicate the look for yourself. 

Rebel Chic also does a good job offering other opportunities for the reader to find what they're looking for by including links to different collections. Plus the whole design, font and copy is all on brand which helps to build your affinity to Rebel Chic.

Promotional email design that showcases products

Promotional emails are a huge part of a successful email marketing strategy. And this Memorial Day promo example from Deso Supply Co. is a must-see:

Right when you open this email, the email banner design tells you this is a promotion. You see “SALE” in big words and “60% off” called out above the fold. They do a great job making you want to keep reading.

And as you scroll, they showcase several products and show pictures of customers wearing their product. The product section is clear and simple and makes it easy for a reader to go shop and take advantage of the timely offer.

Abandoned cart email design that incentivizes checkout

We know abandoned cart emails are one of the most important automated series you should set up for your store. But what makes an abandoned cart email perform well? Take this example from Club Huey:

First things first, who doesn’t love a picture of dogs?

Club Huey makes their offer clear and noticeable by offering 15% off and including a discount code site visitors with more than $99 in their cart will see.

And as you scroll through, you get a reminder of the product you were considering and a super easy way to pick up where you left and take advantage of a strong discount. The design for this abandoned cart email is simple, effective and brings in sales for Club Huey. Remember that your email design doesn't need to be over the top to convert.

Top email design tools compared 

Now we talked a lot about why email design is important and tips you can apply to your strategy. But what about the tool you’re using to create and send your emails? Let’s talk about them.

Your email service provider (ESP) is where you’ll manage all your email marketing - your contact list, email designs, templates, settings and more. 

There are a ton of top ESPs out there, but when it comes to ecommerce, you want a solution that’s built for you.

That’s why we build Privy. Privy is meant for small ecommerce businesses like yours. 

We’re an email marketing platform on a mission to help you grow from $0 to $1M in sales with our tools and expert coaching. 

Plus, you can start sending emails with Privy right away (for free). Create your free account today and start building powerful emails with our ready-to-use templates and email builders. 


Email design FAQ

Got a question about designing your emails? We collected the most popular questions people have and compiled them below.

How to design an email from scratch?

Privy offers a ton of email templates, but you can also build your own from scratch using our drag and drop editor.

What are email design best practices?

The most important best practice is making your email design simple and clear. Make your email on brand and use your design to shape your readers attention to convert more buyers.

What is responsive email design?

Responsive email design ensures that your email is readable on all devices and browsers. When building your email, make sure to customize the design and preview it on all devices.

Where to find good email design templates?

You can get free access to 12 of our favorite email templates here.  This includes examples for newsletters, product reviews, order confirmation emails and so much more.

Start Sending Emails with Privy Today

Create your Free account (no credit card required)