Engage your audience with compelling email marketing design.

Create email marketing campaigns that stand out and inspire action.

Email design being viewed on a mobile phone, tablet and laptop

The basics of email design.

Email is an important way to communicate with an audience and it’s crucial to get the design right. Emails need a compelling harmony of copy, design and must-click CTAs. Explore some best practices for both, along with good examples and tools that you can use to improve your overall email strategy.



Email design best practices.


Almost 40 per cent of emails are viewed for about eight seconds or fewer, so it’s essential to make it quick and easy for readers to see what’s important about your message. Strategically structured email content makes it clear to the reader what you want them to do. With good design, you can streamline your message to increase click-through rates and inspire action.

Tap into trends.

A great place to start your email design is by tapping into current design trends to find inspiration. Many email campaigns use a multi-column layout. Separating content into two to three columns arranges it in a logical, grid-like structure.

This isn’t the only option, though. There are also hybrid layouts that more resemble a blog post or other piece of content, with a featured story on top, leading into a multi-column layout at the bottom. This allows you to create a content hierarchy with opportunities for clever calls to action, to boost customer engagement.

Aim for clarity and be concise.

Your audience is likely pressed for time, so make sure that your emails are clear, concise and easy to read from a design standpoint. Use designs that a developer can build and modify with HTML to carefully curate content, so it shows up well on multiple email platforms. Text should be broken down into larger headlines and grouped with small digestible chunks.

Don’t neglect white space or areas that are empty except for a simple background colour. This will ensure that your content doesn’t feel crowded or overwhelming and helps emphasise important elements.

Don’t break the inbox with your images.

Use web-optimised images that load quickly. Images for emails rarely need to be wider than 800 pixels. Include descriptive alt text in case images break or your reader is using a programme for people with visual impairment.

Animated GIFs can add extra spice to your messaging, but keep in mind that too much movement can create loading issues or be distracting. Look for on-brand images that fit with your brand identity as well as the overall colour scheme of your email.

Use a design that guides the eyes downward.

Your email layout should encourage the viewer to keep reading. Build a wireframe to plan out the visual elements of your email to ensure there’s downward momentum. An inverted triangle works well for a simple notification email, a zigzag shape for a stylish e-commerce email and a neat and tidy column for an information-packed email newsletter.

A wireframe of an email design next to a final email design viewed on a mobile phone

Be consistent with your branding.

Weave your brand’s visual identity into your email designs to strengthen your organisation’s brand recognition with each send. Use brand-consistent design elements, like your logo, colour palette, typography and other building blocks from your brand kit.

Model your emails after your website as well as any landing pages your email leads to. Once your team has developed an email design that works, create an email template to save time when designing future emails.

Optimise for mobile.

As of July 2019, nearly 62 per cent of email opens occurred on a mobile device. Responsive designs that translate well on any screen size are critical for an email campaign’s success.



Email copy best practices.


Your email copy is one of the best places for your brand to connect by being personable, approachable and invested in customer experiences. If design provides the visual structure for the email, copy is what guides your audience to a purchase or other form of engagement. Inspire your reader and make it clear what you want them to do.

Embrace personalisation and dynamic content.

Emails that are personalised to the recipient are opened 26 per cent more of the time than those that don’t. That personalisation can be as simple as including the customer’s name in the subject line or individually crafting emails to meet the needs of different customer personas (or individual customers, though this can be very time consuming).

There are also opportunities to automate this process to get even more specific. With marketing segmentation, deep personalisation can go beyond basic information. Many email automation services allow you to create dynamic content that affices to customer data points, like online behaviour and purchase history.

Dynamic content refers to a specific type of marketing that creates pages or emails that are responsive to user choices and information. Through the use of variables and platforms that allow for this level of personalisation, you can create emails that appear bespoke to each individual customer.

Focus on one main call to action.

Be clear about where the reader will go when they click. If the email requires multiple calls to action (also called CTAs or action buttons), organise them in a hierarchy. Use colours that stand out or contrast your design to signify which action is most urgent. Your main CTA should be higher up in your email, with secondary CTAs coming later. Text-link CTAs or buttons with a simple outline can be effective secondary CTAs.

Craft an enticing subject line.

A subject line may seem like an afterthought, but it’s the most important part of your email — it’s your one chance to convince someone to open it. Make# sure that that it is tantalising enough to get a recipient to open the email, but not too cryptic to be ignored.

Often, enticing customers to open an email with the offer of a sale or a coupon code is good, but crafting the subject line is an art. Sometimes a more provocative but less sales-orientated line works best. Try A/B testing different subject lines over time to see what resonates best with your audience.

3 stacked examples of email designs

Examples of well-designed emails.

Kick-start your team’s design process by exploring these different types of email styles shared by creatives on Behance.



Start creating beautiful emails with your team today.


Ready to begin designing emails? The apps available in Adobe Creative Cloud for teams are one great option. Take a look at what you can do with Adobe apps to create effective emails.


Email design being prototyped in Adobe XD

Create your images and build your layout.

To create images of different dimensions and edit them, an image manipulation app like Adobe Photoshop is perfect. Learn how to create images for your body copy, header and buttons. Then, once you’ve done that, transfer to Adobe InDesign to see how your images will look in a completed email.


Lay out artboards with all your brand collateral.

Learn methods for creating cohesive marketing materials with Adobe Illustrator.


Choose colour palettes for your emails.

See how you can create and save colour palettes with the Adobe Color Themes panel in Illustrator.


Start from a template to quickly make an email design.

Discover how to jump-start a sleek email by opening an Adobe Stock template in Photoshop.


Share and review email designs with your team.

You can use Adobe XD to share your email designs, review them with your team and collaborate with other designers. Creative Cloud Libraries makes it easy for your team to collaborate with the most up to date logos and assets for every project across different apps and devices.

Find creative ways to grow your business.


See how Adobe customers are building great experiences with Creative Cloud for teams.


Browse the latest guidelines in effective design, marketing and more.


Take your creativity to the next level with step-by-step tutorials.

Discover apps to use to design engaging emails.

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