Email Design Guide for Higher Click-through Rate

Posted on:
July 21, 2020
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Email Design Guide for Higher Click-through Rate
KDCI Outsourcing
September 6, 2023

Email design has an essential role in a business’ marketing and sales strategies. The more personalized an email looks, the better. However, without the right design eye for UI/UX (User Interface/User Experience), your email design may not work to your advantage.In this article, we will show you how to design your emails and how email design affects click-through rate (CTR).

How to Design Emails for Better CTR

Click-through rate or CTR is one of the most critical metrics in email marketing. It tells if your content has persuaded your readers enough to make an action.However, even with great content, if your email doesn’t catch your readers’ attention, you won’t reach your email marketing goals. So, here’s how you design your emails for better CTR:

1. Use Optimal Size and Dimensions

In general, the 600px email width rule is an ideal size and dimension to follow. This rule has been used by most marketers ever since the dawn of email marketing. Back when Microsoft Outlook was the leading email client, and the average desktop monitor had 1024px.These days, Gmail stands as the most used email client, with more than 1.5 billion users worldwide. However, this general rule can only be extended up to 640px. Anything beyond that, Gmail won’t show your background color.In terms of height, there are no constraints. However, you must always push your relevant content where your readers can immediately see it (between 300px to 500px high).This rule is essential, especially when you’re running promotional or lead generation campaigns where CTR is a valuable metric.

2. Make Your Email Design Mobile-friendly

A 2019 email analytics report released by Litmus, an email marketing company, found that 42% of all emails were opened using smartphones or tablets. Therefore, optimizing your email design for mobile is essential to maintain readability, unlike in the right mobile view in the image below:

responsive email design

Image credit: Campaign MonitorLuckily, most email marketing service providers already know this and will most likely create a responsive email design without you asking. Meanwhile, if you want to do it yourself, most email marketing platforms also give you the ability to see your email design from different devices easily.As a rule of thumb, there are five things you need to remember for responsive email design:

  • Mobile devices have smaller screens, so it’s even more important to bring your most important content in the upper part of your emails.
  • Stay between the ideal size or dimensions (600 to 640px).
  • Single-column layouts work better.
  • Links and CTA buttons should be 44 x 44px (for Apple devices, mostly).
  • Font sizes should be at least 13.

3. Design a Versatile Email Header

In email marketing, the header is the best place for branding and other marketing efforts since it’s the first thing your readers see when they open your email. Therefore, ensure that your email header design is brand-identifying.Be careful not to try to put too much in the header. You wouldn’t want to overwhelm your readers with too much information because that could increase your bounce rate and hurt your CTR.Additionally, your email header should be versatile. Meaning, it should fit whatever type of email you’re trying to send, be it newsletters, promotions, announcements, and more. That way, you don’t have to design different headers for every email type you want to send.Here are some examples of good email headers:

Canva’s newsletter is clean, simple, and direct. It immediately tells you what to expect with a simple logo and a title, “Weekly Newsletter.” Followed by a clear and concise introduction.

Zalora’s FOMO (fear-of-missing-out) email has a navigation header design so that readers can easily visit individual pages on their website. It goes perfectly with their FOMO content since they want you to purchase something from their store.

Shopify’s reminder email immediately tells you about the content of the email with a straightforward subject line. Notice that they have also included a button for logging in so that their subscribers can quickly visit their website through the email.

4. Design a Strategic Email Body Layout

If there’s anything more important in an email, it’s readability. From a content perspective, it’s all about bringing forward quality content that your readers would want to see.In design, you have to make sure that your readers read the content by designing a good body, using the right font or fonts, and making CTA buttons pop. All of these factors have a direct impact on CTR.To design a good email body, there are three best styles that you can use:

a. Dynamic Content

Dynamic content in emails is content that changes or adapts based on user data, behavior, or preferences. Here’s an example of dynamic email content from Grab Philippines:

In this case, they used their user’s data, like name and location, to customize the body of their email. Design-wise, adequately sized images that still let you see delicious food allow them to push more suggestions without sacrificing quality.

b. Inverted Pyramid Model

The inverted pyramid model has three elements: Attention-grabbing content, anticipation-building, and call-to-action.This model allows writers and designers to structure any piece of content based on information that needs to be prioritized.For designers, the attention-grabbing element could be an image or large font, the anticipation-building part could be a small gray text, and the CTA button is sized in such a way that it’s easily seen.Here are some examples of the inverted pyramid model:

Image credit: Campaign Monitor

c. Single-column

If you want a safer approach, a single-column layout is the best option because it adapts smoothly to both mobile and desktop views. It’s smooth to navigate and straightforward, so users can quickly scan through the information and immediately know what to do next.

samsung single column email design layout

Here’s a sample of Samsung’s single-column promotional email. It has simple design and content, which immediately tells the user what the email is about, and what they want the user to do.

5. Optimize Your Font and CTA Buttons

Font style and size in email design is pretty much the same as design best practices for font: don’t use more than two font types, and prioritize readability over aesthetics.Keep in mind that you want your emails to be easy on the eyes, so you have to use font types that are easy to read, like the combination of Serif and Sans Serif. Additionally, choose the most web-safe font style to ensure that it displays correctly in all media.Meanwhile, CTA buttons are where your CTR data will come from, so they must be the easiest to see. Here are some quick guidelines for CTA buttons that convert:

  • Maintain an average button size of 44 x 44px, optimal for both mobile and desktop views.
  • The font size should be at least 16px.
  • The button must not dominate the page, and therefore must not be too big.
  • Place CTA buttons near the top of the email or “hot” areas in the click heat map.
  • More CTA buttons mean lower CTR. Avoid using more than two CTAs in one email.

6. Add Social Links

While adding social links doesn’t have a direct impact on your CTR, it’s still best to add them to your emails for a more professional look. It also helps your users know that you have social media accounts, which can help drive more followers and engagement.

7. Follow Compliance in Your Email Footer Design

Just like social links, the email footer doesn’t necessarily have a direct effect on your CTR. However, the footer can affect the professionalism and legal compliance of your emails as per the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. Here are the essential elements of the email footer:

a. Unsubscribe Option

For starters, you must have an easy opt-out button. The visible unsubscribe button or link is required as per the CAN-SPAM, and it builds trust with your readers.

b. Contact Information

Another requirement of the CAN-SPAM Act, you must add your contact information, which may include a link to your site, your mailing address, and contact email address.

c. Copyright

While a copyright mark, year, and copyright owner establish your email’s credibility, it doesn’t have to stand out in your footer.

d. Privacy Policy

Including a link to your privacy policy is common for businesses that handle sensitive data of their customers, like credit card numbers.Now, in terms of design, you must create a hierarchy based on what you want your readers to see first. Also, there’s no limit to what you can put into your footer, so don’t hesitate to use the space for less important CTA buttons, sign offs, social links, and other information.

Does Email Design Affect Click-through Rate?

Does Email Design Affect Click-through Rate?With this information, you might be hesitant to put in all of these design efforts because you’re still unsure if it will work. Luckily, with a properly designed email, you can definitely increase your CTR.A case study conducted by Campaign Monitor showed that they increased their email CTR by 127% after redesigning their blog subscribers’ email.These were their email designs:OLD DESIGN

campaign monitor old blog email design


Image Credit: Campaign MonitorAs you can see, they used content prominence, better design elements, and a more persuasive CTA. To prove their findings, they A/B tested their old design versus their new email layout, and have concluded that their redesign worked in achieving their goal.With UX/UI design experience, an email can be redesigned in such a way that it prioritizes how its readers will react to a particular element.In this case, Campaign Monitor combined a single-column layout and the inverted pyramid model to improve user experience, which ultimately had a positive impact on their CTR.Although it’s also important to point out that design isn’t the only factor that can affect CTR.Relevant content is still the number one thing you have to consider since it’s what your subscribers will value. Without relevant content, a reader won’t care how big your CTA button is or how pretty your email looks.

Outsource Your Email Design to KDCI

Email design requires a lot of work, research, and experience to be appropriately utilized to improve click-through rates. Luckily, email design experts from the KDCI Outsourcing Creatives team have UX/UI experience to help you achieve your goal.Visit our Design & Marketing page or Ecommerce Graphic Design Services page for more information and our design portfolio. For inquiries or design quotations, click the button below.Get a quote

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