Email campaign inspiration

Email Marketing Design: Get Great Ideas from B2C Brands

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Over the years, we’ve put together quite a collection of email marketing designs from all sorts of B2C and B2B brands. Now, we’ve curated some the best of those campaigns right here.

It’s true that email is always evolving. Design trends come and go, tastes change, and styles go out of fashion. (That’s why we had to say “so long” to some of the email designs we’ve featured on this site.) But there’s something to be said about good ideas and timeless design choices.

We think there are more than a few of those in this collection of email marketing design ideas featuring campaigns from some recognizable B2C brands.

Take a look and find some email design inspiration!

Summer email marketing campaigns

In the summer of 2016, we collected a bunch of hot email marketing designs that caught our eyes. They show how the right combination of snappy copy and stunning visuals can create a very memorable email experience.

Billabong

The strategy used in this campaign from fashion brand Billabong is right on point. It opens with content that’s sure to intrigue the target audience … surfers wiping out.

Then, it promotes its products and includes a countdown timer for an upcoming event the brand was sponsoring. This promo is well-designed and built for encouraging subscriber engagement.

Billabong summer email campaign design

Bonobos

Another men’s fashion brand gets straight to the point with one of its summer email campaign designs. Bonobos didn’t need to use copy to make a joke about what can happen when you’re halfway through summer. A relatable and humorous email background image did the job.

bonobos summer email with wrist tanline image

Here’s what the brand used to turn up the heat in this email:

  • Picturing a severe tan line is a relatable and on-theme choice for a summer email.
  • The tongue-in-cheek CTA button “SPF 40” effectively ties together the 40% off sale items offer and the tan-line imagery.
  • Its design immediately relays the purpose of the message – to offer the customer something of value – without wasting their time.

REI

Summer means camping for families and outdoor enthusiasts everywhere. REI used a collage of authentic imagery of real co-op members (not stock photos) to get subscribers in the mood and get them dreaming about their next adventure.

REI summer email

Besides the enticing design of this campaign. REI is also harnessing the power of storytelling via email — both visually within the campaign and teasing stories when customers click through for more.

It also encourages subscribers to engage and share their own stories on social media. This is an email designed to generate loyalty.

While the focus is on content, not products, REI’s team knows that if people start planning excursions, they’re going to need to get some gear. What brand do you think will be top-of-mind for their subscribers?

West Elm

What do furniture and flip-flops have in common? Not much. But West Elm’s use of summer imagery created a unique way to split up a hero image into clickable product-focused CTAs.

West Elm email design with flip flop hero image

Personalized product picks make this summer email campaign even more likely to get clicks.

Evite

From picnics and barbecues to family reunions and pool parties — summer is a time for get-togethers. Online invitation tool Evite knows that very well, which is why it created this fun, summer-themed email marketing design in 2018.

Flat, emoji-inspired icons and clean typography combine for a design that’s simple but memorable.

Evite summer invitation email

Travel promotional email from JetBlue

Airlines use email as an important communication channel. These days, they often include dynamic content with updates and information about your upcoming trip.

However, this JetBlue email from back in 2012 is all about promoting air travel to exotic locations. It displays fares from a specific location with conversational CTA buttons that beg to be clicked.

jetblue email promotion form 2012

Here’s what email developer Alex Ilhan had to say about this email marketing design:

“From their simple navigation at the top, easy to read promos and links to social media at the bottom, jetBlue makes it tempting to plan your next getaway before their offer expires.”

Old Navy’s email marketing design technique

Admittedly, this next email’s design is a bit dated, but it’s the basic layout we want to point out …

Layout is a strategic email marketing design decision. Back in 2013, we noted how retail brand, Old Navy, used what’s known as the “F-shaped reading pattern” in an email for kids’ clothing.

old navy email from 2013

This type of layout supports the way researchers found people in an eye-tracking study initially scan web content. By placing the most important graphics and information into that F-shaped pattern, Old Navy ensures subscribers get the message — even if they’re quickly skimming the content.

Ulta and the S-curve email layout

Another effective email marketing design is the S-curve layout. This elegant technique is used by artists as well as graphic designers and UX specialists.

The S-shaped flow of this email from beauty brand Ulta was the perfect choice for this campaign. Notice how the product images and subheadings shift from left to right rather than being all left- or right-aligned.

Ulta email with an s-curve layout

The intent of the S-curve layout is to keep subscribers scrolling, drawing their eyes down the email to explore more. If you’re reading this, it must have worked.

Spotify’s S-curve celebration and email personalization

It’s been a decade since Spotify (originally launched in Sweden) came to the United States. Back in 2012, it also used an S-curve layout to create this quirky email marketing design celebrating a year in the U.S.

Flash forward several years, and we can see how Spotify leveled up its email marketing strategy. The streaming service now uses data from its product to deliver personalized recommendations to its users. If you’re a Spotify user, you’ve probably received year-end emails about what you listened to the most.

spotify personalized email
Spotify personalizes emails based on music the subscriber listens to.

You may notice that these two emails seem to represent very different looks. However, the first email was from 2012 and the second from 2018. A lot about a brand’s style guide can change in six years. Make sure your email marketing design changes with it!

Interactive email design for Halloween

While the rest of these examples are from B2C brands, this campaign proves that B2B companies can have fun with email too!

A few years ago, EmailMonks (now Uplers) launched an interactive and spooky email campaign that got email geeks talking about gamification.

EmailMonks Halloween Gif
The interactive Halloween email in action

The campaign featured both animation and a carnival-style game that challenged subscribers to take out monsters. Most people aren’t expecting an experience like this when they open an email.

While the game didn’t work in Outlook email clients, the email copy did notify subscribers of that fact and invited them to try out the game in a browser instead.

Doing dark mode email design right

Dark mode emails have become a design trend that you can’t ignore. Many brands are developing both dark and light mode versions so that subscribers have an ideal experience either way.

Designer Ben Clay of Action Rocket chose this campaign from Nike as a top choice in his round-up of dark mode email design examples.

Nike dark mode email design

Ben says the simplicity of Nike emails helps the brand easily switch between dark and light mode.

“Nike’s email designs are always very clean and precise, of which I’m a huge fan. It’s because of this that their email designs seem to translate seamlessly into dark mode. Their original designs are usually black and white so the transition for them is very simple.”

Learn more about taking on the dark side in our webinar, Designing Emails for Dark Mode, which features insights and advice from three email developers.

Outside-the-box eCommerce email design

Speaking of unexpected, rather than going for a traditional layout of grids, home decor brand CB2 designed this email with the look of a funky infographic.

Coincidentally perhaps, the somewhat crowded content reflects the email’s theme of fitting more into smaller spaces.

CB2 small spaces interior decorating email

Yes, it’s a promotion that’s pushing products and encouraging online shopping. But, it’s also content that provides interior decorating tips for small spaces.

This approach adds value that subscribers appreciate, and the design makes the email experience fun and interesting.

Colorful consumer product launch

When Billie, a female razor brand, announced its new DreamPop line in 2018, they used colorful ’90s nostalgia and animated GIFs for images. The result was an eye-popping email marketing design.

The right color choices for your email campaigns can make a big difference. But don’t forget about the importance of using appropriate color contrast for email accessibility.

Casper’s product launch email design

Here’s another email marketing design for a new product announcement.

Casper is known for its mattresses, but it’s really a “sleep company,” which is why it launched a unique bedroom lighting product in 2019.

As the animation below scrolls through the email, you’ll see how subscribers experience a striking hero image with an immediate call-to-action to view a product video. Below the fold, the email explains the products with clear, benefit-focused copy that’s supported by a subtle animation and clean, monochromatic icons.

Casper product announcement

Want some advice on crafting clear and compelling email copy like this? Check out our webinar with ProWritingAid — Clarity and Effectiveness: How to Write Great Emails Every Time.

Native’s informative product launch

This email campaign from the natural deodorant brand, Native, is extra fresh. To announce a new formula, the email team created an infographic that broke down the new deodorant by the numbers.

Native new formula email

This email marketing design is clean and simple with plenty of room to breathe. The infographic highlights all the work that went into developing the product. But it doesn’t shy away from humor, making a joke about their “official armpit sniffers.”

Interactive slot machine from Clinique

Consumers get so many eCommerce promotions in their inboxes that brands are always looking for something to help their emails stand out.

Cosmetic brand, Clinique, used an interactive technique in this campaign that took its customers straight to Vegas.

The “spin-to-win” slot machine concept makes taking advantage of a promotion feel exclusive because it’s something customers “won” instead of just another marketing email. Engaging in email gamification likely made Clinique’s subscribers more invested in this campaign.

Fitbit’s birthday email design

Birthday emails are an excellent way to make a personal connection with subscribers. Fitbit’s birthday email from a few years ago stays on-brand by recommending healthy ways to celebrate.

Fitbit birthday email

The fitness tech brand featured hand-picked content that birthday boys and girls might find interesting. In addition to feeling recognized by the brand, this email also serves to re-engage customers with the product.

The Stitch Fix style shuffle

When Stitch Fix introduced a new feature in its mobile application called Style Shuffle, they showcased the way it works with an animated GIF.

See the 2018 email marketing design in action when you play the video below.

Play to watch the animated email design in action.

As email marketing evolves, this kind of functionality doesn’t need to live on a website or mobile application. Cutting-edge brands are developing interactive emails that let consumers do things like this right in their inboxes!

It’s an excellent way to learn about subscribers’ preferences so you can deliver more personalized email experiences.

Book publisher takes a cue from Tinder

Back in 2017, singles everywhere were swiping left and right on potential dates thanks to the success of Tinder. Penguin Random House took that concept and got creative with an interactive email design featuring romance novels.

Subscribers could browse titles and covers while choosing hunky characters who appealed to them.

Tinder-inspired interactive email

We interviewed the brand’s email marketing manager about this approach. She explained that it was sent to a specific segment of subscribers at a specific time of year … just before Valentine’s Day.

“The goal of this email was to engage with subscribers on our list who have a preference for romance books and introduce them to new romance titles. With this in mind, we bounced around some ideas and landed on an email in a dating app format that would invite subscribers to discover their next book crush. Since Valentine’s Day was coming up, we thought that would be the perfect time to reach out to them with this messaging.”

As you might expect, the email team saw a nice bump in engagement with more clicks than usual on this campaign.

Under Armor’s welcome email

The welcome email series represents the start of an important relationship with new customers and subscribers. Under Armor nailed an important aspect of email strategy … it’s all about their customers, not their brand.

The email welcomes subscribers to the team, but the message makes it clear that their mission is making you a better, stronger athlete. Aspirational imagery inspires subscribers to get active — while wearing Under Armor gear, of course.

Under Armour's new subscriber welcome email

What the email marketers at Under Armor realized is that welcome emails align with the customer journey. Subscribers want to accomplish something and choosing the right athletic gear is part of that journey.

Shutterfly’s product explainer email design

After you welcome new subscribers, it’s time to start onboarding them with emails that help people get the most out of your products and services.

Shutterfly did this quite well with an email marketing design that explains not only the benefits of creating a photo book — but just how easy it is to do. It helps potential customers overcome apprehension and feel empowered to create something with their tools.

This email’s design has a very logical flow. It also uses copy and typography in an intuitive way that clearly and concisely explains what you’ll need to do to create a priceless family memento out of your best digital photos.

In our experience, “Get Started” tends to be a very effective call-to-action. Of course, you won’t know for sure unless you test what resonates best with your list.

Virgin’s privacy policy update

Messages notifying you of changes to a brand’s privacy policy are typically among the more boring email experiences you. But Virgin Trains (which ceased operation in 2019) took a different route.

Check out the video of the animated email below.

A privacy policy that’s transparent and easy-to-read is totally on-brand for Virgin. The email update reflects this honest and lighthearted approach while including a simple but effective animation.

Not many email marketers would go to those lengths to enhance a mundane message with a unique design.

Exploring content with the BBC

If you’ve ever watched any of the BBC’s nature documentaries, you know they’re amazing. So, the emails promoting BBC content need to make your jaw drop as well.

The dramatic dark theme and eery imagery invite you on an adventure into the wild. But notice — the email prompts you to “tap” not “click” the + icons to learn more. This campaign was optimized for a mobile viewing experience.

BBC interactive email

Clever email PR from MeUndies

It would be tough to find crazier, more dedicated fans than lovers of the Star Wars movies. The folks at MeUndies found that out the hard way in 2018.

After releasing underwear with a Star Wars print, the sudden influx of traffic crashed their eCommerce website.

However, the brand used email marketing to admit their mistake and fix the public relations fiasco. They made light of the situation by blaming the website crash on “the dark side.”

The subject line for the email? “The Death Star Crashed Our Site … But We Fixed It.

Star Wars MeUndies GIF email

The brand’s email designers and developers created a sci-fi themed email complete with a funky effect and the perfect Star Wars line to reference: “These are the undies you’re looking for.

Taco Bell for the holidays

Nothing makes you feel like Christmas as much as a belly full of crunch tacos, right? No? Well, maybe that’s why Taco Bell hired an agency to develop an interactive holiday email campaign in 2017 that really stood out.

Email subscribers could choose different modes of transportation: jet pack, white elephant, or turbo-powered sleigh. Then they watch what happens. Will they be able to navigate their way through the Christmas chaos in order to arrive at a Taco Bell restaurant?

Taco bell holiday interactive email

This kind of email experience is memorable enough that when holiday shoppers want to stop for some fast food, they may be more likely to think about ordering tacos.

SoulCycle’s cause marketing campaign

SoulCycle used email marketing design to celebrate Pride Month in 2018.

The brand delivered a message of inclusion and acceptance with this email marketing design. It includes rainbow-colored iconography and unique/conversational CTAs for each button. SoulCycle also connects the email campaign to social media activity by highlighting the hashtag #AllSoulsWelcome.

Pride Month email from SoulCycle

You’ll notice, SoulCycle didn’t just use the cause for self-promotion. The brand put its money where its marketing is by pledging to give proceeds to a charity and helping subscribers find local events.

Find about more about using cause marketing in email strategy.

Join our FREE virtual event for Email Marketers!

Whether you focus on code, strategy, or design Email on Acid’s Splat Fest has something for every kind of email marketer. Check out what we have planned! Pick and choose the sessions you find interesting!

splat fest logo with dates  June 14 to 18

Don’t let good email marketing design go bad

Developers, email marketing specialists, and graphic artists put a lot of thought, time, and effort into email marketing designs.

Once you’ve created the perfect email, make sure perfection is what you deliver to your list. Our email readiness platform was built to simplify the complexities of email marketing. That includes ensuring designs are accessible, images are optimized, and your campaigns render as expected on different email clients.

Make sure your planning, creativity, and hard work pay off. Deliver email perfection every time when you test every campaign with Email on Acid.

Looking for more email marketing design ideas? We highly recommend the collection of new email campaigns the folks at Really Good Emails are curating.

Even Great Emails Need to Be Tested

It’s true: Even well-designed emails can break from time to time. That’s why email testing is an important part of sending a successful campaign. Email on Acid tests your email code quickly and accurately, allowing you to preview your design across 90+ email clients and devices. Try us free and start delivering email perfection!

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Author: The Email on Acid Team

The Email on Acid content team is made up of digital marketers, content creators, and straight-up email geeks.

Connect with us on LinkedIn, follow us on Facebook, and tweet at @EmailonAcid on Twitter for more sweet stuff and great convos on email marketing.

Author: The Email on Acid Team

The Email on Acid content team is made up of digital marketers, content creators, and straight-up email geeks.

Connect with us on LinkedIn, follow us on Facebook, and tweet at @EmailonAcid on Twitter for more sweet stuff and great convos on email marketing.

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