Taking Your Email Design Seriously Pt.2

Email Marketing

In Part 1, I talked about how consistency while being creative is important to make your emails suck less. In this second installment I will talk about fonts, colors and spaces!

Top to Bottom

It’s important for your recipients to know who the email is coming from (not just abide with SPAM rules). Instill brand familiarity by adding a logo or name on your header and your footer.

And don’t forget to include your value-added links at the bottom of your email, along with ways to contact you, social and unsubscribe links and other legal information. Keep your header and footer simple and subtle, let your main content stand out. You can play around with colors and text with colored-backgrounds to create a separation between blocks.

UXPin, Waymo and Wonderbly from Really Good Emails


Make use of a table of contents if you have a lot to cover, this is great for newsletters especially for publications. Make your content easy to scan, so recipients do not need to read every word to understand your email and click your CTA.

Harrys, Maude and Goby from Really Good Emails

Use short sentences and paragraphs and separate your content sections with space (more on this below), lines or even images. Keep things short and bring valuable content only. Imagine you’re selling something to Jeff Bezos, does he have enough time for your BS? Focus on your purpose and general idea. Stick to it.

The average length of the emails is around 450 words or 3 min of reading. And the tendency is moving forward into shortening of emails. More than 50% of marketing emails shorter than 300 words.

Igor Ozherelyev on 5 Things to Know Before Starting an Email Marketing Campaign in 2019

Design for the brand and product, with purpose

There’s no shortcut to email marketing success. You can’t use the same email design for beauty products and a food brand. Your storytelling will be different and so should your design be. If you are selling a single product, your focus should be on that. If you have a huge inventory, your email design and strategy gets even trickier. And when you have multiple products or categories to display, a navigation menu is your best friend.

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Taking Your Email Design Seriously Pt.1

Email Marketing

Whether you own a brick and mortar store or sell completely online, chances are you’ve heard of Email Marketing. If you already have one in place, good for you. If you haven’t, you’re missing out on a lot of sales.

Email marketing is more than just increasing your sales, it’s about promoting your brand, building relationships and maintaining them.

In this two-part series, I’ll try to cover all the things that will take your emails to the next level. I’m not saying this is the right and only way. These are best practices based on my experience for the past 5+ years of designing emails. You can read the second part here.

Behavioural, Inaugural and Transactional Emails

There are a lot of different types of marketing emails. Behavioural, inaugural and transactional emails are some of the most common emails you should be sending to your prospects and existing customers.

Each type has a specific purpose and trigger. It only follows that they’re designed and presented differently, but don’t stray too far. Notice how while Casper has different styles, it keeps the same header and footer for most of its emails below? They have no-menu style for behavioural emails like asking for reviews.

Casper from Really Good Emails

Is it time to say Goodbye to “The Fold”?

You’ve probably heard of “The Fold”. In traditional forms of media such as newspapers this refers to the upper half of the front page. Since papers are often displayed folded, customers can only see the top. They have to make a decision whether to pick up the paper and read further based on it.

Overs the years, online marketers have been debating whether “The Fold” is important in email marketing or not. We have a lot of screen sizes through which we read our emails after all. Based on experience, “The Fold” is still very important and a premium space.

First impression last, as they say, but it’s important to not be a stickler for rules; No one wants to see the same email over and over again.

Always aim for delivering your message across straight as soon as they open your email. And, if you can’t, “entice them to scroll down“.

Take a look at dreem’s email below. Instead of having a hero image on top to deliver the message, they went for clear and big texts with a CTA and added a lifestyle image to support the message.

Dreem from Really Good Emails

Keep things visually appetizing and easy to digest

Create an information hierarchy. Layout your email in a way that it helps the viewer know what they should look at first. Your email’s main purpose should always be your main content and anything to support that purpose should follow it. Try the Inverted Pyramid or Zig-Zag framework and use a single column layout, almost always. It’s good to have a good mixture of these layouts so as not to make your emails…boring.

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Anthony Bourdain


I was having a late lunch by myself when I got a message from a friend, “Anthony Bourdain died”. I couldn’t believe it… I still can’t. He was a huge influence in my life and while I didn’t know the man personally, he was a friend.

I first found out about him through No Reservations, which aired through Discovery Travel & Living and travelled to different places, places I wouldn’t even imagine going to, weekly, with him. I religiously followed the show, envied his work and the perks that came with it.

Through the show, I got to visit strip clubs, dine with interesting people and didn’t have to disrespect nor politely reject anyone who tried to offer something I cannot eat like the Icelandic fermented shark or the raw seal with the Canadian Inuits. 

And since his death, the show’s loud music introduction is stuck in my head, along with his voice. His voice was extremely recognizable, soothing and reassuring. It was after binge-watching all The Mind of a Chef episodes that I realized, “I would listen, eat and watch anything this man talks about and creates.”

The chef

He was not your ordinary chef, in fact, he stopped considering himself a chef after leaving Les Halles. He inspired me, among many others, to cook. We both admired Jacques Pépin.

“I feel that if Jacques Pepin shows you how to make an omelet, the matter is pretty much settled. That’s God talking.”

– AB

He taught me the significance of food in our daily lives and how we can trace history with it. He made me taste food without physically eating it, which I believe is an amazing talent. I don’t think anyone can do it like him. 

The writer

I read most of his books, from the infamous Kitchen Confidential to his only recipe/cookbook, Appetites (if we don’t consider the Les Halles cookbook). He was, for me, an amazing writer more than anything else. I saw one of my favourite writers in him, Hunter S. Thompson, the founder of the gonzo journalism movement, who, sadly, also ended his own life. Later on, I found out, Anthony’s writing was inspired by him. Even his cookbook is a great pleasure to read because just like everything he does, his cookbook was not just a book of recipes, it was filled with stories. And he’s is a damn good storyteller. 

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I Fear for the World the Internet is Creating


Have you tried watching your favourite TV shows of the 90s or early 2000s lately? Have you noticed how it has drastically changed and most importantly how your opinions and humour has? For example, I have watched all seasons of How I Met Your Mother and Friends countless times before but I’m watching it again lately and I’m surprised how not only do I no longer laugh at their jokes but I cringe on most of them, and they leave me offended. Okay, maybe offended is a not the right word. But I’m definitely not happy.

The World the Internet is Creating

It seems like a lot has changed in a very short period of time and I believe like many others, that the new internet as a whole is contributing to this cultural and knowledge consumption shift. Ellen Ullman describes it perfectly in “Life in Code“, she said,

“I fear for the world the Internet is creating. Before the advent of the web, if you wanted to sustain a belief in far-fetched ideas, you had to go out into the desert, or live on a compound in the mountains, or move from one badly furnished room to another in a series of safe houses. Physical reality—the discomfort and difficulty of abandoning one’s normal life—put a natural break on the formation of cults, separatist colonies, underground groups, apocalyptic churches, and extreme political parties.

But now, without leaving home, from the comfort of your easy chair, you can divorce yourself from the consensus on what constitutes “truth.” Each person can live in a private thought bubble, reading only those websites that reinforce his or her desired beliefs, joining only those online groups that give sustenance when the believer’s courage flags.”

And it is scary.

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