The Top Email Design Trends to Know in 2023

Melanie Balke
June 21, 2023

Like fashion, email marketing trends are always changing. What’s popular today can easily be archaic by tomorrow, and those sleek email templates from last week could already be yesterday’s news!

The digital world is so dense — so jam-packed with content — that email marketers must understand the latest and greatest to stay on top. Knowing what’s hot can make a huge difference in your marketing, and it may be the key to unlocking your true potential! After all, a stunning design catches more customers than a dull plain-text email.

To help you conquer your email marketing strategy, I’m devoting today’s blog post to what’s hot and what’s not! Keep scrolling to learn more, and let’s discover the eye-catching world of email design trends.

Terms to Know

Various designs of many different shades, arranged diagonally. "The Basics: Terms to Know."

Before we start, let’s take a quick vocab detour!

This article will be peppered with some artsy keywords, and those terms may be unfamiliar to some readers. That’s okay!

Check out this short list of design elements to know before you dive deeper.

Call to Action (CTA)

A wall-mounted switch. "Call to Action: How do users get to where you want them?"

The CTA is a link — both textual and visual — that directs subscribers to the desired outcome. Usually, you’ll see CTAs redirecting users to the storefront. However, a CTA can also lead to a game, poll, or survey.

As the first point of contact between a brand and its email subscribers, the CTA is one of the most important elements of any email design, so keep your eyes peeled for this term!


A note, featuring a hand-drawn lightbulb, pinned to a cork board. Overlaid text reads, "Headers: The best way to organize your content."

A header is a block of text that denotes some sort of shift.

Think of it as a section label or chapter title.

When used properly, headers work in ascending numeric order. The largest format is H1, followed by H2, then H3. (You can go even higher, but few scenarios warrant such extensive organization.)

Visually appealing headers draw a reader’s eye to important details, such as a CTA or a collection of product images, but that’s not their only purpose. These elements also improve the accessibility of your marketing efforts by telling screenreaders how to organize your content.

Negative Space

Rows of empty theater seats. "Negative Space: The 'breathing room' around everything in an email."

In the simplest terms, negative space is any portion of a design that is left unmarked. It’s the spacing between each section, the filler on either edge of your body text, and the unused padding around your interactive elements.

You may also hear people calling this “white space” (or ”whitespace”).

The Top Trends for 2023

A digital blueprint. "Design Trends to Amplify Your Emails."

Now that we have the building blocks ready let’s start designing!

Email marketing has come a long way since the first message. The chaotic multi-column layouts of the late 90s have faded away, and a new aesthetic has overtaken modern email design.

While the following ideas are popular now, they probably won’t be on the “latest trends” lists in five years. They may not even stay in place until the end of this year!

But what really matters is your brand identity. If something strange and unconventional works for your company, stick with it!

You don’t have to follow the crowd, but it’s good to know where everyone is heading.

With that said, it’s time to dive into some of the latest email design trends for 2023!

Be Bold With Your Email Campaigns

A set of drawings for the 1936 New York World's Fair. Overlaid text reads, "Go Bold: Break Outside the Box."

The widespread popularity of Apple marked a massive shift in digital design. The quirky color palettes and chaotic layouts of the late 1990s fell out of favor, replaced by monochromatic color schemes and rigid sans-serif fonts. However, email marketing teams are now moving away from formal modernism and embracing bright colors!

In addition to the vibrant color palette of modern email marketing, many designers are pairing their ideas with uniquely bold typography. Some are even experimenting with extravagant designs, eschewing the contemporary standard of the single-column layout.

Moving Beyond Basic Color Palettes

An undated child's drawing of a farmer. "Be Colorful: Don't be afraid to use vivid colors."

While some brands have settled into a monotone style, plenty are moving to a world of bold colors and quirky hues. These vibrant designs easily capture the audience’s attention, which boosts email engagement!

Even if you fully embrace minimalism, you can utilize the full range of colors on modern displays to create emails that really pop!

A sample email for VeloxBot. The colors are black and salmon pink.

However, you’ll want to be aware of eye strain and avoid designing content that pairs light-colored typography with similarly light backgrounds. Consider, too, how your content will look on hand-held devices. Mid-level contrast works well on desktops but can be impossible to read on smaller screens.

Embrace Large Text

A clipping of a newspaper, dated November 2, 1947. Overlaid text reads, "Go Big: Take advantage of those bold slab fonts.

Don’t forget about your text!

Neon colors and vivid hues aren’t the only eye-catching design trends for 2023 (and beyond)! Many brands are also turning to bold typography to make their emails stand out. Such choices turn otherwise ordinary elements — such as headers and titles — into gorgeous attention-grabbing highlights.

An example email for Collection Lounge. The text uses a bold slab serif font.

The easiest way to create embellished text elements is image-based. Embedded files have always helped brands send the right message, though they can be detrimental to the overall customer experience. Should email designers choose to use images for these accents, implementation specialists must remember to include appropriate alt text and accessibility features! Moreover, you’ll want to ensure your team double- and triple-checks the email’s plain text fallback.

Alternatively, you can use crafty code to create a responsive design that includes your newer, bolder look. Just be sure to check that your font of choice is web-safe!

Get Quirky With Your Images

A pinwheel within a splat-like shape. Overlaid text reads, "Get Quirky: Who needs squares? Push the limits of your images."

More brands are also embracing unique visual elements in their email marketing.

More precisely, they’re looking to the future! Animated GIFs and transparent images are nothing new, but the expanded reach of high-speed internet is making these formerly restrictive options viable email content. Now, thanks to better compression and delivery technology, you can send images with better quality and speed than ever before!

An email for STEMKids, showcasing a transparent PNG image over a wavy background of pale blue and white.

Obviously, such features can serve as a static focal point of an email message. However, many email designers are turning to animated emails to push the medium further than ever!

That being said, remain mindful of technical limitations. While they’re generally mobile-friendly, animated emails and similarly flashy displays tend to be bandwidth-heavy investments. Potential customers may have problems viewing these messages on mobile devices, particularly when they rely on spotty connections.

Should you choose to create such a masterpiece, it’s always worth a second opinion. Test your content before you send it, and consider crafting a smaller campaign with similarly personalized experiences for mobile users.

Mix It Up With Unique Shapes

Paint splattered against wooden panels. "Break Out: Use Unique Shapes."

Fans of the 1990s, rejoice!

Squiggles, wiggles, and all-around weird shapes are back, and they’re making a splash in email design circles! These seemingly hand-drawn shapes have squirmed into plenty of email layouts, and it’s easy to see why. After all, if you pair a funny shape with today’s stunning color trends, you get something uniquely eye-catching.

How Geometric Shapes Create Interest

A canvas texture. Text contained within a brushed shape reads, "Texture: Bold shapes add visual texture to your emails."

Why are these unique forms re-emerging from their slumber? We’ve been content with clean lines and rigid shapes for so long! What’s with the sudden change?

Well, for starters, don’t redo every template! Like any trend, this design choice is made for a specific target audience. Its early 90s vibes and odd lines make it the perfect choice for informal brands, but formal brands can safely stick to that minimalist aesthetic.

However, for playful brands, these geometric shapes look great on any screen (with a bit of work) and create plenty of visual interest. Common uses for such visual elements include:

  • Drop shadows
  • Image borders
  • Photo frames
  • Section highlights and dividers
  • Visually appealing text blocks

Mixed Media Email Designs

Layers of old advertising. "Mix It Up: Combine Different Styles in an Email."

Further down on the list of design trends for 2023, we have so-called “mixed” email designs. These layouts contain both photographic images (i.e., hero shots, portraits, and product photos) and hand-drawn content. Paired with all of the above designs — particularly bold typography — the resultant contrast adds a massive pop to your emails.

Of course, you’ll still want to check your compatibility. Test every design — especially new ones — to see how it looks on desktops and hand-held devices.

You can play with this idea, too! Some designers pair charming custom illustrations with overlapping images, creating a stunning sense of texture. Others might use brightly colored patterns and photos as a contrast to an otherwise dark background.

Keep It Simple

Rows of sand. "Stay Simple: Use That Modern Minimalism."

Finally, you can’t go wrong with the classics!

Minimal design remains a mainstay in modern email marketing. It’s easy to use, works well on any device, and pairs with both bright and dark backgrounds. You can use any color palette and focus on any target audience.

It’s a bit of a one-stop shop for email marketing, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad!

Get Creative With The Email Marketers

Overlapping leaves. "Find Pros: Let Us Handle Your Emails."

That’s a lot of information, right?

These are just a few of the biggest email design trends for 2023, and who knows what 2024 might bring?

But you’re busy running a business! How can you possibly stay on top of all this nonsense and have time to run everything?

Here’s the good news: You don’t have to!

Give me a call, and we’ll chat about your company’s needs. We’ll tackle the big problems, and I’ll show you how the experts at The Email Marketers can make your marketing communications shine!

In the meantime, don’t forget to check the rest of my blog for more tips and tricks! You’ll find tutorials on all the basics and plenty of marketing coverage to stay up-to-date on everything you need to know.