3 Email Design Examples to Inspire Your Email Marketing

Melanie Balke
August 16, 2023

You can write the best email copy on the planet, but most email marketing relies on its visual appeal.

From the most complex interactive features to the simplest blocks of just text, the look of your marketing email deserves your full attention. It will, after all, be drawing your audience’s attention.

Unfortunately for us all, it’s downright difficult to come up with fun, unique designs. We’re not all email marketers. As business owners, we have other things to do! How can we possibly have time to worry about things like “visual hierarchy” or “AMP content blocks?”

Here’s the good news: I’ve got some spectacular email design examples lined up for your enjoyment. These emails — all courtesy of the visionaries of The Email Marketers — showcase unique traits that make them laser-focused on their respective target audience. They’re the visual pinnacle of email communications, and you’re getting a free sneak peek!

So, buckle up and get ready to snatch your reader’s attention like never before! We’re about to dive into the world of modern email design.

Email Design Buzzwords to Know

A blurred Gmail inbox. Overlaid text reads, "The Basics: Design Terms to Know."

I’ll start with a vocab lesson.

(Stick with me, though! I promise those fantastic email marketing campaign ideas are on the way!)

Now, I’ve already made a few posts about this topic — including one dedicated to nothing but design terms. You’ll find plenty of vocab lessons scattered throughout this blog. Long-time readers may already know some of this information, but it’s worth a quick review.

As I know your time is valuable, I’ll keep things short. We’re just focusing on those “big ticket” terms in this post.

What Is an “Email Layout?”

Our first dictionary entry is the vaguest of them all.

Your email’s overall design concept is known as the email layout.

This covers your content blocks, images, links, and overall email design. All those little social media icons in your footer are part of your layout, as is the footer. Any columns you may have will be part of your layout. In fact, the easiest way to define a layout is to remove all written content from that rich HTML email and see what’s left.

The most common email layout is the sleek one-column design concept. It’s easy to use, flexible enough to redesign as you go, and makes for a lovely (if not somewhat trite) email template.

Tell Me More About “Email Accessibility!”

Some may say that accessibility is an implementation specialist’s job, but everyone can contribute to accessible emails!

Email accessibility focuses on making content accessible to everyone. While your content may be perfectly fine for the “average” person, it could be an absolute nightmare for disabled users!

Form, function, and usability are the key tenets of accessible email marketing.

Design-wise, you’ll want to spend extra time thinking about your fonts and images. Choose legible fonts and use an appropriate font size. Similarly, be sure to use relevant images with appropriately written alt text.

What Is a “Call to Action?”

The call to action is a link that leads to the right place. It may be a storefront or a purpose-built landing page.

The most common variation is an HTML button. These responsive elements fit on any screen, and they’re a handy way to catch a reader’s attention. Most drag-and-drop builders have these buttons as default elements; sliders or color wheels allow users to customize them to fit any color scheme. In plain-text emails, CTAs are usually displayed as inline links.

Some brands use static images for CTAs. This is not necessarily “wrong,” but it can be poorly implemented. Failing to provide fallbacks and alt text for such business-essential links can lead to steep dropoffs and poor conversions. This approach may also confuse readers using text-to-speech or screen readers to access emails.

And What About “Mobile Compatibility?”

The final entry on our list is one of the most important concepts in modern email marketing.

Mobile compatibility is — as you may have guessed — an email’s ability to display on mobile devices. The most common way to tackle the issue is to adopt a one-column layout. It’s a simple, easy solution for a complex problem. However, single-column layouts are rigid, leaving little room for visual creativity.

Many brands end up expanding their collection of email templates. These additional layouts give marketers more space to stylize the brand identity and add decorative features. However, this approach requires coding skills!

In addition to the layout of your email marketing, each campaign’s mobile compatibility is influenced by its…

  • Coding. Finding a designer with exemplary coding skills gives you more creative freedom.
  • Features. Interactive AMP emails won’t work on everyone’s mobile devices.
  • File size. Larger files bring older tech to a grinding halt! I’m not saying you need to compress everything, but you must consider how many mobile users will struggle to open a large email.
  • Font choice. Some fonts won’t work on mobile devices, and your font size may be illegible on smaller screens. Know, too, that older computers can’t display some newer fonts.
  • Reader’s mobile device and browser version. Older devices naturally support less modern content. “Legacy” devices, such as those used in some offices, may not even display images!

What to Consider as You Design Your Email Campaigns

A blurred message in a Gmail inbox. Overlaid text reads, "What to Know: Factors to Think About."

Okay, I know you’re expecting some email examples, but there’s one more thing to discuss!

You know the lingo, but do you know what it takes to create an email campaign?

Every email element is a stepping stone, part of a carefully laid path for your readers. You can throw everything together and stir it up, but a combination of bold typography and mobile-friendly solutions does not guarantee success. In fact, you can easily go overboard and create a monstrous amalgamation of design choices that makes readers turn the other way.

So, let’s go over a few considerations before we roll out our email examples.

Who Are You Emailing?

Your first consideration should be the target audience.

“Do you ever stop talking about the target audience?” you may be asking.

The answer is a big, enthusiastic, resounding “No!”

Your audience is everything. You’re designing everything to cater to someone, even if it feels like you’re making a generic template to generate leads. So, as you design those email templates, ask yourself who is opening them.

While younger consumers will appreciate fun CSS-powered dynamic effects, those flashy visuals will confuse older email readers. Those eye-catching neon hues will work well for skaters, but they won’t vibe with executive-level office workers. And that simplistic personal correspondence is a great way to catch an older reader’s attention, but it probably won’t get a second glance from a Gen Z reader.

In simpler terms: You must design marketing emails for your readers, not someone else’s.

What’s Your Brand Identity?

Similarly, you must consider your brand identity.

Some brands have colorful, eye-popping emails; others use subdued, modern email templates. Neither of these approaches is necessarily wrong, nor would one work better for everyone. Again, your brand voice and feel are (ideally) tailored to appeal to your buyers.

Unless you’re just starting your email marketing journey, you’ll have an established style. Your emails must match your brand’s tone. Otherwise, you’re likely to confuse your consumers.

What Is Your Goal?

As they once said in a surreal Leonardo DiCaprio film, “We need to go deeper.”

You’ve got your audience; you know your brand voice. But do you know your final goal?

Regardless of whether you designed a campaign from scratch or used an email template, you must consider your goal. Take a look at the totality of your email campaigns and study each email’s reading flow. Does it naturally lead to the right conclusion?

Do those welcome emails make you want to buy something, or are they buzzword-stuffed prose?

Does that new holiday email really need interactive features?

These questions will help you stay on-brand while also reducing your budget. After all, you don’t need everything to be interactive emails. Yes, you’ll grab your reader’s attention, but the novelty will wear off.

When Are You Sending the Email?

Finally, consider when you’re sending your marketing email.

You wouldn’t send a fall-themed campaign in the middle of summer. Similarly, you’ll confuse your email readers if you drop a Christmas campaign in March.

Okay… Let’s Look at Those Example Emails!

Á blurred Gmail inbox with overlaid text: "Examples: 3 Email Designs to Inspire You."


That was a lot of info, but it’s finally time to dig into our emails.

As we go through each email example, think about how the whole message tells a story. Consider how these designs look great on many screen sizes, especially mobile phones! Remember, too, that AMP emails won’t work in PNG form.

The Modern Eye-Catcher

Our first email design is from a sale email for BLVD.Black, a sleek, modern streetwear company. Its audience is young and stylish, so its email design must match those vibes. How? Well, check out this forward-thinking opener:

Header for a BLVD.Black email. A photo of a sneaker is overlaid with text, “Free shipping over $98 USD.” The CTA reads, “Get Fresh!”

Trendy Designs for a Fashionable Audience

The bold typography is the first thing you’ll notice. It’s an attention-snagging twist on the tried-and-true rich HTML email. The big deal — that “free shipping over $98 USD” — is the focal point, filling the otherwise unoccupied white space.

The second thing you’ll notice is the catchy “Get Fresh” call-to-action button.

Much like the red-orange color scheme, this laid-back lingo matches the brand style. BLVD.Black’s audience won’t want a formal newsletter. They want exactly what this email design delivers: sleek modernity.

High-Value Images in Visually Pleasing Places

Note that the same visual pop that first grabbed the user’s attention continues into the main body of the email.

Here, we see two showcased products (namely, the Trek and Ankle Boots footwear selection). Unlike the header shoe, these products are showcased in their entirety. The rounded rectangle frames let users see the shoes, giving them a feel for how they’ll look on them.

A BLVD.Black email. On the left is a product photo. The right side of the email contains a review and a CTA: "Shop Trek."
A BLVD.Black email. The left side contains a review and CTA: "Shop Ankle Boot." The right side contains a photo of the shoes.

Unlike transparent “floating” images, rectangular photos are easy to work with. A few lines of code turn otherwise massive photos into form-fitting features that adapt to many screen sizes.

Straightforward Calls to Action

Finally, take a look at the links.

Each CTA leads to a different landing page.

The end of a BLVD.Black email. A header reads, "Looking for more hot looks?" A bright reddish-orange CTA button follows: "Browse BLVD.Black."

Now, many campaigns won’t need this many links. Most constant contact drip email templates come with 1–2 buttons, and you rarely need more. However, this showcase style of marketing emails is meant to boost specific products. Thus, providing users with direct links makes it easier for them to find what they want.

Amp Up Your Email Design With Animated Images

Our next campaign serves as part of Melinda’s Foods’ welcome flow. It’s a streamlined example of visual hierarchy in email design, doubling as an “ultimate guide” for newcomers.

A header for a Melinda’s Foods welcome email. The subject line reads, “The Heat Index: What’s Your Limit?”

Unfortunately, the animated thermometer didn’t make it into this screenshot. However, you can still see what makes this campaign great. You still have the branded colors and mobile-friendly layout. You also have a clear demonstration of how font size impacts the flow of a campaign.

The Visual Hierarchy of Spice

Now, let’s back up.

Let’s zoom way out and see the whole message.

A breakdown of the visual flow of this campaign. The elongated email message is split into three distinct parts.

You can easily break this email into three parts:

  1. The Opener: The header is an eye-catching way to turn email clients into paying customers.
  2. The Body: A list of products — and unique landing pages — tell us more about Melinda’s Foods. Each new entry is cleanly divided from the next.
  3. The Final Whammy: The email closes with a final CTA and the logo.

Unlike the BLVD.Black email, this campaign uses transparent “cutout” images. This creates more white space, but it gives designers more room to write. Naturally, we used this blank box to describe each sauce. Pay attention to the font! These are all web-safe fonts; they display well on any device.

Tie It All Together

For this email design, the theme was “spice.”

One of multiple product features in a Melinda's Foods campaign. Small flames act as stars; this product is a one-flame, low-spice sauce. The CTA reads, "Get Thai Sweet Chili."
A five-flame, high-heat sauce. The email design includes a floating product image and bright red CTA button: "Go X-Treme." This email uses web-safe fonts.

We wanted readers to feel the heat, and we peppered hot imagery throughout the message. Instead of stars, we used little flames. The black and white color scheme gives those burning red bottles room to shine. Against that grill-like black background, the spices seem to pop off your screen!

The final section of a Melinda's Foods email. Below this, email designers will include legal links, including the unsubscribe link.

And we can’t forget to add some value. The whole email closes out with a mouth-watering deal. “Need the whole lineup?” we ask, mirroring the quirky brand identity, “Explore all the spice and flavor levels with our Heat & Flavor Tailgate Collection!”

The Seasonal Subject Line Stuffer

Finally, let’s look at a seasonal campaign.

This STEM Kids email was sent during the peak winter season, so it had to stand out. Every bit of white space had to have meaning. After all, how many emails do you get over the winter holidays?

A STEM Kids email with seasonal cartoons. The header reads, "Top Stucking Stuffers." A red-orange CTA box below says, "Check Them Out."

Again, we used a vibrant orange to match the brand style. However, we made sure our imagery fit the season. Check out that snow! Doesn’t it make you think about warm fires and steaming cocoa?

Make Those Images Count

We used floating images for the STEM Kids campaigns, too.

One of three body sections for the STEM Kids email. This email design features floating images and branded links.
One of three body sections for a STEM Kids Christmas campaign. This section features photos of the "Tiny Animals" slide kit. In the email design, the CTA reads, "Shop Now."


Well, this edutainment brand sells STEM toys. Its brand style leans on curving lines and scientific blues. While we could use rectangular images, these transparent cutouts give us more room to play with the layout. They also fit well in any email template.

A section advertising the STEM Scope portable microscope. Again, the email design utilizes floating images.

Make What Matters Stand Out

Finally, we wrapped everything in a bright orange and vivid blue bow.

The final portion of a STEM Kids email. The main deal is highlighted in a wavy blue shape.

“Free expedited shipping on orders over $115.” That’s a huge deal, especially during those busy winter months. Who doesn’t want to take advantage of something like that? It’s the true value proposition of this campaign, and we highlighted it with a bright blue banner.

Again, notice the curves, which mirror the brand style.

Want Even More?

That’s all I have time for now, but there’s still more to learn!

On the market for an email marketer?

Looking for ways to improve your emails?

Give me a call! Let’s schedule your free strategy session. Together, we’ll brainstorm all the ways your emails can become on-brand powerhouses, providing your business with consistent revenue and steady growth! See how a team of pros can turn your plain Jane HTML email into a remarkable visual experience. All you have to do is show up!

In the meantime, be sure to browse the rest of my blog for more tips, tricks, and ideas!