Email campaign inspiration

Email Marketing Design: Get Great Ideas from B2C Brands

Remember when every email marketing design in your inbox had an orange CTA button?

Or when emails used reaction GIFs left and right? Or how soothing IKEA-style neutrals dominated email design for a few years?

Does it feel like email marketing design trends change more often than the latest fashions, the lingo Gen-Z uses, or the hottest social media channel? We get it. But that's part of what makes this fun. So if you're looking to freshen up some email templates, we've got some ideas to share.

This year, expect to see some of the design trends from other industries filter into inboxes, too. We’re talking ‘90s style: Vintage fonts and pixel-forward designs, an old-school scrapbooking aesthetic, botanicals and nature-inspired designs, and the return of vibrant maximalism.

Remember, just because it’s trendy doesn’t mean your audience will go for it. Instead, take these ideas as just that - ideas you can incorporate into upcoming A/B tests or campaigns to try.

Why does email marketing design matter?

Design, done right, is something you don’t notice. While only 9.2% of consumers say they get value from email design, it absolutely influences engagement and conversions. A well-designed email doesn’t just reflect your brand - it helps tell an impactful story inside the inbox.

This email example from Fly by Jing is unapologetically loud and fun, exactly like their sauces. The design is above the fold, making it easy for customers to convert on a big, bold CTA button.

Email design featuring sauces and brand storytelling
Via Really Good Emails

Whether that’s a well-placed in-line link that gets readers curious about your next drop or an eye-catching animation showing off the latest products, email marketing design is what gets shoppers into the proverbial online door.

5 examples of eye-catching B2C email designs for 2024 

If you’re looking for email marketing design inspiration, look no further. We’ve pulled together a few email design examples that show what we think will be all over inboxes throughout 2024.

1. Maximalist and 90’s-inspired email design

Nostalgic '90s email design example
Via Really Good Emails

What year is it? Because we’re pretty sure we used to tear down posters off bulletin boards that looked like this email. This Eiffel 65-hued “blue” and lime green are giving serious flashbacks to a simpler time on the internet, and that’s exactly the point. Don’t be afraid to get wacky and wild with color, font, and design—that’s what A/B testing is for.

2. High contrast email design

Black and white olor contrast in an email design
Via Really Good Emails

You don’t have to use funky color combinations or lots of squiggles/wiggles/weird shapes to be on-trend this year. Going bigger and bolder with your email designs can mean playing with black and white, which makes optimizing for dark mode even easier. This email uses a big, bold font to draw your attention in an S-curve that naturally pulls the reader down to the call to action.

3. Vibe-y and vintage email design

Ray-ban email design
Via Really Good Emails

2023 brought pink back into the design conversation (though a more fun hot-pink hue than the ubiquitous millennial pink from the ‘10s). Expect warm colors to continue to be the vibe in 2023, with lots of reds, yellows, and oranges and playing with heatmapping, a ‘90s version of tie-die that adds a vintage vibe to your emails, like this one from Ray-Ban. Bonus points for adding a grainy, pixelated overlay that feels like film photography.

4. Hand-drawn scrapbooking-style email design

Warby Parker email marketing design
Via Email Love

Email designers, take note: The bolder and quirkier your designs this year, the better. That’s true even for a simple email like this one from Warby Parker, which uses a more handmade, arts-and-crafts style for its fonts and background, giving it a scrapbook-y feel.

5. Natural, botanical email designs

Vintage and natural email marketing design example
Via Really Good Emails

The antidote to the maximalist aesthetic? Cottage-core-inspired earth tones and botanical-minded email designs that appeal to consumers’ environmental sensibilities. Think calming earth tones, a one-column design, and product images “in the wild.” This health & beauty campaign also hits on the vintage email marketing design trend.

Bonus: AI-generated images

One thing we’re already noticing? The rise of AI generated images and AI-powered design tools in email designs.

This is no replacement for your graphic design team, but it can help you brainstorm email designs and play with colors or fonts more quickly. However, you may also notice that it feels pretty easy to spot an image someone whipped up with MidJourney or Dall-E. Maybe it looks a little too flashy, busy, and over-produced and over-saturated. (Not to mention there seems to be an overabundance of seductive looking elves)

Don't fall for the trap of fast-and-easy. Using AI isn't wrong, but think of it this way...

If you couldn't take the time to design your own amazing email, why should your subscribers take the time to open and engage with it?

If you do use an AI to help with email marketing designs, make sure it understands your brand guidelines. Whatever you approach image generation, expect to hear more and more about using AI in digital design throughout 2024.

Essential email marketing design advice

Inspiration starts the creative process. From there, it’s about getting that email into production - going from design to copy to coding and then proofing and testing before sending it out into the world. We’ve rounded up a few pieces of email marketing design advice to get you started.

1. Create an email design system for your brand

Whether you prefer to use email templates or build your own designs from scratch, any email marketing program can benefit from creating an email design system. This is a set of pre-built components aligned with your brand guidelines that you can re-use and re-work as needed. Buttons, headers, and content blocks can all feel the same but look different for each campaign.

A component-drive email design system also help bigger companies create consistency and efficiency across multiple brands.

Sinch Email's multi-brand design system in action

2. Design and code for mobile first

Research from Sinch finds 71.5% of consumers say they primarily open their email on a mobile device. But when Sinch Mailjet asked marketers about their biggest email design challenges, more than a third (36.1%) said it was responsive emails, making it the top challenge.

Chart on email design challenges
From Inbox Insights 2023

Responsive emails can be tricky, especially with support varying in different email clients. But getting this right is more important than ever. As you look at your email designs, make sure they’re mobile optimized and responsive. Among other things, that meaning simplifying your layout, using large enough fonts and button sizes that make them easily tappable, and getting your media queries on lock.

3. Consider the power of simple email design

Your subscribers see hundreds of email marketing designs. While playing with exciting features like interactivity, animation, or countdown timers can be fun for big campaigns, for your average, everyday email design, simple often wins.

Now, simple doesn’t mean boring. Color, layout, imagery, and copy all matter when it comes to engagement like clicks, replies, and forwards. But don’t let yourself be distracted by your goal: Conversion.

Find out what a couple of email geeks discovered about the power of minimalistic email designs. The result may surprise you.

4. Prioritize accessible email design

Email accessibility matters. But according to research from the Email Markup Consortium, many brands have a long way to go to show they really care about every subscriber on their list. (When we say "many" we mean like 99.9%.)

If you’re not doing it yet, you need to start thinking about accessibility in your email designs. That’s because accessible designs aren’t just for those with visual impairments - they make it a better email experience for everyone.

Writing good alt text for images, ensuring proper color contrast, including semantic HTML like <h> tags, along with easily scannable and readable copy makes your emails better, period. It's not as hard as you think to improve email accessibility. Check out our complete email accessibility guide for tons of advice on how to do it right and why.

5. Keep dark mode email design in mind

Dark mode email designs are a trend that's not going anywhere. For marketers and email developers, dark mode considerations impact many of your design and coding decisions. Dark mode also creates challenges with things like logos disappearing in emails. But let's be honest, email marketing campaigns that are optimized for dark mode look pretty cool.

Dark mode email design example
Via Really Good Emails

6. Don’t ignore transactional email design

Your promotional campaigns shouldn't get to have all the fun. Don’t ignore opportunities to improve transactional email design. A little touch here and there can make the experience of receiving an order confirmation or account registration message more memorable, enhancing the customer experience.

Via Really Good Emails

These are the emails you have to get right. They’re usually delivering critical information like order numbers, receipts, or return labels - yet designers often overlook them. Making transactional emails a positive brand moment can surprise and delight your subscribers, which keeps them coming back for more.

Just be careful about getting too promotional with transactional messages. You want to keep the transactional information front and center. Make sure the majority of the content is related to the purpose of the email and not to cross-selling and up-selling.

7. Preview email designs on various clients and devices

Did you know that your painstakingly crafted email could look radically different in Gmail vs. Outlook vs. Yahoo or Apple Mail? That's because of how email rendering works.

Add to the long list of email clients various browsers, mobile versions, and dark mode and you’ve got thousands of possible versions of your email floating around the internet. That’s probably why 35% of respondents to our survey on email design challenges named rendering issues their top challenge, coming in at #2 behind responsive emails.

email previews in the Sinch Email on Acid platform
Email previews from Sinch Email on Acid

Rendering issues don’t have to hold you back from trying out exciting new design trends. That’s why testing your email before you send it is so important—that way, you get peace of mind that your email looks exactly the way you want it to before you’ve sent it to thousands of people on your email list.

Make sure your email designs shine

Don’t let funky email client rendering ruin a good design. With Sinch Email on Acid, you get access to unlimited testing across 100+ email clients and devices so you know exactly how your email looks everywhere a subscriber could possibly see it.

Beyond previews of your email marketing designs in different inboxes, you can also use our platform to check accessibility, validated images and URLS, or see how subject lines, preheader text, and sender names appear in different in inboxes.

Sinch Email on Acid is a pre-send, quality assurance solution that helps your brand deliver its best.

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. Sinch Email on Acid tests your email code quickly and accurately, allowing you to preview your design across more than 100 of the most popular email clients and devices. Try us free and start delivering email perfection!

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