Inbox fatigue — we’ve all been there. The fact is, more and more emails are sent out every year, yet most are too boring to warrant paying attention to. Add our dwindling attention spans to the mix, and it’s easy to see why open rates have been declining since 2015.
So what’s an email marketer to do? A well-designed email layout to the rescue!
Today, I’ll discuss how you can boost engagement, capture users’ attention and inspire action by choosing the right email layout. I’ll also cover email design and content tips, and share some email templates you can customize quickly and easily with Venngage’s Newsletter Maker.
Click to jump ahead:
- What is an email layout?
- What are the differences between email layout and email structure?
- Common email layout examples
- How do you choose the best email template layout?
- How to use Venngage to design email marketing layouts
- Email layout FAQ
What is an email layout?
An email layout refers to the look and feel of elements in your email. In other words, the email message’s aesthetic appearance and visual qualities.
This includes the color palette, font choices, design style, contrast and white space. It also speaks to how the content is, you guessed it, laid out.
Whether you are going to send a cold email with the help of cold email outreach software or an onboarding email, make sure to use email layouts, as they not only make content visually appealing — they also strengthen your message.
Take this email newsletter template for example:
Notice how each design element — the email header / banner, text, images, icons, call-to-action (CTA) buttons and footer — pair together to create a clean, cohesive feel. They also naturally guide readers’ eyes down the page towards a desired action (signing up).
What’s more, the above newsletter template expertly employs white space to break up the content. Here’s another example with a similar effect:
Now consider reading those same two emails if the layout didn’t space the content out, there was no white space or attractive visuals leading to a clear CTA button. You can all but guarantee they wouldn’t capture the attention of your target audience, or perform nearly as well.
That’s the power of email layouts!
Email layout vs email structure: what’s the difference?
Email structure refers to the way your email content is organized. This includes aspects like the order of your sections, which can impact the visual hierarchy — i.e. the order of importance readers assign to the information.
For example, the most common email structure involves:
- Header image
- Email Body text
- Call to action (CTA)
Meanwhile, email layout primarily concerns the curb appeal of your email — i.e. its visual interest and aesthetic. These design choices and elements influence whether or not your email is visually pleasing and engaging for your target audience, which also impact the hierarchy too.
To illustrate the difference, take a look at this example email newsletter:
The email layout here centers around design choices such as the monochrome color palette, the focal white and gray icons, the varying sizes and thickness of text (and how most of it’s kept above the fold), the large tonal graphic and the hyperlinked CTA button.
The email structure, on the other hand, involves the organization of content: the headline, the body text, the call to action, followed by the contact information.
(Like any of the professional email templates you’ve seen so far? You can customize all the layout and structure elements using Venngage…more on this in a second).
Common email layout examples and email templates
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s explore some of the most common email layouts. We’ll also check out some email templates you can 100% customize for your own email marketing campaigns or internal communications.
Traditionally, an email developer would have to learn to code HTML emails, to create a highly customized look — whether they’re using an HTML email template or not. But with Venngage’s easy-to-edit, professional email templates and drag-and-drop editor, you can easily design and personalize your email layout in just a few clicks — no HTML code or design experience required.
Single column layout
As the name implies, all the elements in this email layout are stacked in a single vertical column. These kinds of email designs simplify the browsing experience by streamlining the info into one continuous flow from top to bottom, just like our natural reading pattern.
Here’s an example of a single column design inviting subscribers to answer a quick survey, in exchange for a discount on their next purchase.
By placing all the promo details within a single column, interested readers will be able to easily see the info they need to be convinced to participate.
The above email template example uses the same idea. It motivates subscribers to shop the discount by placing the details smack-dab in the middle, right where readers would naturally come across them. No distractions — just the offer.
Here’s another email template with one column:
The one column approach in this party invite email template organizes all the particulars in succession, so they’re easy to view and understand.
Of all the email layouts out there, single column email designs translate best on mobile devices, because it displays information without risking being jumbled.
Two column layout
Email layouts featuring a double column design distribute information across two columns on a page. It’s a great option for image / information-heavy content or when you’re covering multiple topics, since this division lays it out into distinct, separate blocks.
To see what I mean, check the corporate email template below:
Here, the two column layout highlights different kinds of information effectively: the text in the left column is an official statement, whereas the rightmost column is broken up into sections with steps.
Similarly, the newsletter email template below uses a double column to divide information. By doing this, subscribers can find what they’re after without having to read through the whole thing.
In the case of this particular template, one column highlights official announcements — such as recent sales and industry news — while the second supplies general info and tips for readers.
These email designs are also excellent for consolidating and displaying multiple calls to action without looking cluttered or confusing. E-commerce campaigns use this approach frequently.
Multiple column and hybrid layouts
Of course, you have the freedom to change up your email layout depending on your content and objectives. Given this, many opt to create emails with hybrid layouts — that is, they borrow elements from both single and two column email designs.
This can be purely for aesthetics (i.e. to align with a specific style or look), for branding purposes (i.e. to highlight branded elements) or to curate information in the way it’s intended to be consumed.
In this real estate email template, multiple columns divide the information (ideas) into blocks. This assigns equal importance to everything presented.
Alternatively, this real estate newsletter email template borrows design principles from single and two column layouts. Note how the sidebars and center text emphasize the hierarchy of the information presented.
Ready for one more example that opts for the best of both worlds approach?
This email template switches from a single column to a two column layout. By doing so, it emphasizes the four safety tips while maintaining the communication style of a personal letter.
How do you choose the best email template layout?
When considering which email layout to use for your email campaign, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Chief among these are your goals. Whether you’re sending a welcome email to new customers, weekly newsletters or re-engagement campaigns, transactional emails or post-purchase flows, ask yourself:
- Am I merely looking to communicate information, such as highlighting new features?
- Am I nurturing the company-customer relationship?
- Is there an action I want subscribers to take?
- Am I looking to increase sales?
Your answers to these questions are a great starting point to determine the type of content — and the layout — you want to produce.
For example, the below email template has the primary goal of gaining feedback. All the design details reinforce this objective:
Next, put yourself in your email subscribers’ shoes. Consider the devices they’ll be opening your emails on, and whether your layout is responsive to both mobile and desktop email clients.
(Since almost half of all emails are opened on a mobile device, it’s best to take a mobile first approach.)
Then, try to understand their real life interests and consumption habits so you can provide information they need and would be moved to read. These factors can help you decide which details and elements to add or eliminate, thus guiding your email design process.
Remember that different email templates work for different objectives and achieve different results. So knowing the purpose of your email, the length of the content and the elements to be included can guide your layout decisions.
For example, this email template shares important facts about the reopening of a company’s offices, plus steps employees should take to ensure everyone’s safety. The selected layout — a hybrid approach — highlights these key details.
How to use Venngage to design email marketing layouts
Creating fabulous emails and layouts is easy with Venngage’s huge selection of professional email templates. There’s no need for any email coding skills or struggling with HTML emails / an HTML email templates / HTML code — anyone can create polished campaigns in just a few clicks.
- Sign-up for a free Venngage account.
- Click on the “Newsletters” tab on Venngage’s template page and select a design and email layout that suits your needs. Then, select the “Create” button on the template.
- Swap in your desired email copy, icons and colors to make it your own.
- Once you’re happy, share the link publicly for free or upgrade to a paid plan to download your custom template.
With a Business Plan, you get access to premium features for your customized templates that your email marketing team will love — like real-time Team Collaboration, and automated branding via My Brand Kit.
Email layout FAQ
How do you make an email newsletter layout look more professional?
While we recommend adding design elements to your email, it should still look crisp and professional. To ensure this, consider your format, content and grammar.
Email format or layout must be a priority when designing emails. That’s because it’s the first thing subscribers will notice: they’ll scan your headings and subheadings to assess if your email message has value for them. So use contrasting colors, icons, lines and shapes to highlight important information.
Your choice of typeface can also have a huge impact on your format. Sans serif fonts feel modern and clean, but serif fonts can instantly add personality.
Spark interest among your readers with a catchy subject line. This is the first thing they’ll see, so make sure yours is as clever as it’s concise to make it stand out from a sea of messages.
But the subject line and pre-header are only the first step! Validate that the email body itself will satisfy subscribers’ expectations. The last thing you want to do is end up being marked as spam. DMARC and SPF integrations and report check-ups are your guarantees spamming from your site will not happen. And if you face the “no DMARC record found” signal, the issue can be fixed following the guidelines.
For example, if you’ve sent an email with a heading that says “Work-From-Home Productivity Tips,” your content should deliver on that.
Lastly, don’t forget to check for minor errors such as grammar and spelling in your email copy. Whether you’re sending an internal or external email, these types of mistakes can be seen as sloppy.
How do you make your email layout design visually appealing?
Here are some tips for designing attractive layouts for your email campaigns:
- Use white space: Adding white space will break up the content, defend against subscriber fatigue and make your email look cleaner and more organized
- Use images and icons: Adding images and icons to your email can help break up the text and make it more appealing — just be sure to use high-quality, relevant visual content.
- Use colors: Adding color to your email can help it stand out in the inbox — just be sure to use colors in line with your organization’s style and branding guidelines
- Use fonts: Be sure to use fonts that are easy to read and look good on all devices. Classic sans-serif fonts, like Arial or Helvetica, are typically a good choice for email templates.
- Use interactive media: If you want to engage your readers, consider adding videos or other interactive elements to your email template.
Besides these design guidelines, make sure your email template is responsive. A responsive email template can adapt to different screen sizes and settings, especially those on mobile devices like smartphones or tablets, to maintain readability.
The best email marketers make sure their email campaigns have a layout where the mobile version looks just as good. Venngage’s email templates include a variety of beautiful email templates that are mobile-friendly and responsive.
A great email layout is the key to engaging subscribers
There you have it: everything you need to know about email layouts, laid out. With the right choice, you’ll fight off inbox fatigue like no other. Just remember three things when choosing an email layout for your needs:
First, think about the type of content you’re sharing and the goals you’re trying to achieve. Then, choose a design that accomplishes all that and looks good while doing it. Finally, sign up for a free Venngage account to access our library of professional email templates you can personalize in no time at all!