Let’s say you’ve built up a decent number of email contacts. That’s great, but now you have to keep them engaged with attractive, compelling content.
On average, a person will receive about 88 emails per day. That means that it’s going to be slightly difficult for your email newsletters to stand out.
Especially when it has to compete with more critical emails like bills, business contracts or a notification that an Amazon package shipped.
But that doesn’t mean you should just give up on email marketing. You just have to work a little smarter and take some risk in your design.
Your email newsletters aren’t going to be read if you are still using email tips you picked up in the 90s. That means abandoning your boring or text only dispatches and embracing eye-catching visuals.
Here are a ton of creative email newsletter templates and examples to inspire you. You’ll be able to turbocharge your email marketing software in no time!
So let’s get started.
1. Have a well-defined call to action for each section
Every email newsletter template should have a call to action (or CTA)–that’s a no-brainer. But a lot of newsletters use only one call to action, placed at the very bottom. That’s fine if you only have one section in the whole newsletter.
However, if you have multiple sections like many do, you should add a call to action to each of them. Just like in this newsletter example above that has five sections and five easy to see call to actions.
Now the reader will know exactly where to click to learn more about a point or idea. If you don’t, they will just bounce out of your email, and maybe even unsubscribe.
An important part of making your brand recognizable is to use cohesive branding in all of your messaging. Since your newsletters will be one of the main ways you contact your audience, make sure your email newsletter design is in line with your branding guidelines.
Use a color scheme that includes your brand colors, or that reflects your brand’s personality.
Icons are a great way to illustrate information and emphasize points in your newsletter. Placing an icon beside your headers will attract readers’ eyes.
Pick icons that reflect the theme of your information. Just be sure to use icons with a consistent style–this will help your design look cohesive.
4. Use an unconventional layout for your newsletter
One way to make your email newsletters more engaging is to use an un uncommon layout. Most newsletters follow a simple left-to-right, top-to-bottom layout. But a more unusual layout will stand out from the others.
For example, the snake layout in the example above draws the eyes back and forth across the page, making for a more engaging reading experience.
5. Start with a compelling custom header
A header can be the thing that makes or prevents someone from reading the rest of your newsletter. In this example from The Octopus, the header will stand out immediately in a crowded inbox.
Additionally, this example uses the name of the newsletter to direct the design choices, further cementing their unique band. You’re not going to forget a company that embraces an octopus so wholeheartedly.
6. Use a color filter on images to make your newsletter design cohesive
A quick hack to help images blend cohesively into an email design is to give them a color filter that matches the rest of the design. You can do this by adding a color layer over the image and adjusting the opacity. Take a look at how the blue color filter on the image in this newsletter blends in seamlessly with the rest of the design.
7. Use a creative header that reflects the theme of your newsletter
Your newsletter header will likely be the first thing people see when they open your email. That’s why it’s important that you grab their attention with a creative header. Create a header that reflects the theme of your newsletter, using icons to illustrate ideas and fonts that reflect the theme and mood.
For example, the pixelated font in this email newsletter template reflects the video game theme of the content.
8. Design an infographic-like email newsletter template
About 80% of readers are only skimming your email newsletters, instead of reading them in-depth. You can combat this stat by using an infographic as inspiration, which is already great for summarizing information.
In this newsletter example from Code Camp, they use an infographic newsletter to succinctly present a bundle of interesting stats to their stakeholders. This is a much better way to presents information to a large group of people.
Even if your audience is barely skimming it, they will still get value from this email newsletter.
9. Use FOMO to your advantage
This newsletter design does something exceptionally well. It deliberately uses vagueness and mystery to push you to click on their call to action. Or if you are a millennial, it uses the fear of missing out (FOMO) pretty well.
Using FOMO is a powerful way to drive people to take a very specific action that they already know will benefit them in an email campaign. For example, signing up for a giveaway, accepting a gift card or getting a discount, like in this newsletter.
Remember, the CTA needs to be so simple that they will benefit from clicking that it would be foolish not to click.
10. Use a color overlay to make your text pop
Color overlays are a simple way to create a strong email newsletter or upgrade your boring one. All you need is a photo, some text, and a semi-transparent shape, which can all be found in Venngage.
Ever since I started designing and creating content, this tip has been one of my favorites based on the simplicity alone. Just look at the example above–the semi-transparent rectangle makes the text easy to read without totally obscuring the background image.
11. Include unmistakable parts of your branding
You already have battle-tested colors, fonts or visual ideas that your subscribers already know belong to your company. Those elements have already helped you build a strong visual brand for your company. So why wouldn’t you use your branding in your email newsletters?
In this newsletter example, The Outline’s visual identity includes extra bold colors, large fonts and a lot of duotones. Each of those things is front and center on their homepage, and as you can see, in their newsletters. Now when it’s fighting for attention in an overstuffed inbox, that branding will help readers recognize it immediately.
12. Send a welcome email to new subscribers
Before sending out an email newsletter to new subscribers, I would recommend sending a customized welcome email. It has been found that those types of emails have an 86% higher open rate than the standard newsletter email.
This makes a lot of sense, especially if you send a well-written welcome email while your brand is still bouncing around in their head. This will ensure that the recipient has a good first impression of your company or brand from the start. Make sure you have a good onboarding email strategy as well that extends beyond your welcome email.
Also if your brand only sends out a monthly or biweekly newsletter, you can still engage them quickly after they subscribe.
13. Use directional cues to guide readers’ eyes
Directional cues are visual indicators like arrows, fingers pointing, and lines that guide your readers’ gazes in a certain direction. In this email example from J.Crew, a massive ice cream cone pulls your eye down to their call to action with its arrow-like shape.
They use that ice cream cone, with some snappy copy to make a simple email actually engaging. Your eyes know exactly where to look or click.
Small things like this can upgrade your newsletter design and engagement in no time!
14. Let holidays and events guide your newsletter design
As you can tell, I really like when brands use GIFs in their email newsletters. But this tip isn’t about GIFs, instead, I want you to see how well Luciana crafted their Valentine’s Day newsletter example.
First of all, it looks like a card that you would get from a close friend, not a large company. Something like this automatically makes the brand feel a lot more genuine.
Next, all of the copy, fonts, and icons that are used fit the overall theme of Valentine’s Day. Nothing feels out of place, and it comes together to make an effective email newsletter template. If you are struggling to put together a relevant newsletter template, take a look at the calendar first.
15. Use complementary colors to make important info stand out
An understanding of color theory is an important precursor to really creating effective designs. Check out this guide if you want to learn more about using color.
In this example from Trunk Club, they use complementary colors in their email design very well. The orange CTA button contrasts with the blue background. This type of color usage can be added to buttons, links or important pieces of info to bring attention to them.
16. Target your whole email list during the holidays
This email newsletter from Fossil may be one of my favorite examples in this article. All of the design elements like font and icon usage are excellent.
But the best part of this newsletter design is that it targets their whole audience so effectively. In the simplest terms, they have two main customer groups based on this email: men and women. Now, instead of targeting both of them in separate campaigns, they hit both with the same email.
This may seem like a common thing to do, however, I am guessing a solid chunk of Fossil’s products are given as gifts. A recipient may not need a watch that instant, but their significant other or family member could. By targeting both groups around the holidays, they could maximize the potential sales.
17. Draw attention to specific points with a handwritten font
Handwritten fonts are a big design trend this year. You can use a handwritten font to draw attention to a particular part of your newsletter. Like LoefflerRandall did in the example above, to show their subscribers there was a new location.
Handwritten fonts will jumps off the screen. It may be the first thing your eye sees on a page or email newsletter as well.
18. Use frames to organize your newsletter design
If you are featuring a selection of different products in your newsletter, I would recommend adding a background shape or frame to each. Borders or frames can help unrelated parts of your newsletter look uniform. This may be one of the easiest things to add to your newsletter, yet many people forget it completely.
In this example from Net-A-Porter, they use subtle frames to make it look like these 8 items go together.
19. Leave enough whitespace in your newsletter layout
There really isn’t a limit to how long your email newsletter template can be. While looking for examples for this article I found some that could be a flyer and others that looked like a novel.
But no matter how much information you’re packing into one newsletter, make sure your content has room to breathe by leaving whitespace. Whitespace can help you draw attention to specific points, like the New York Times does in this example. Plus, with all of that white space, the text is easier to read from any device.
20. Use one visual theme in each email newsletter template
A common mistake that you can make while designing a newsletter is having too much going on, visually. That’s why it’s important to keep a singular visual theme throughout the newsletter design.
In this simple newsletter example, the designer did just that. Each header uses a single illustrated icon, with a bold colored background. They could have just as easily used a stock image or something else, but because they stuck to one theme the newsletter template looks professional.
21. Create a simple list infographic
After they state their case on why you should donate, a call to action seals the deal.
22. Fix mistakes with a charming newsletter
Sometimes mistakes happen when sending out newsletters. I know it’s happened to me at least once–I used the wrong link in an email that went to about a million people. So that was fun!
But right after I noticed my error I tried to fix it. Just like Fab did in the newsletter example above, where they make for sending a random cat image to their subscribers. They owned their mistake and offered a discount to make up for it. Anyway, who could really be THAT mad about getting a random cat in their inbox?
23. Keep your copy light and punny
Some of the best brands in the world are those that don’t take themselves too seriously. That can help luxury brands, like Teavana, seem a lot more genuine.
In this email newsletter template, they use puns and wordplay to make the reader, hopefully, laugh. Instead of it seeming like they are communicating with a massive corporation, the fun copy make the email feel like it came from a close friend.
There are a few people in the Venngage office that I can see using this exact pun around the holidays as well! Actually, now that I think about it, that person used to work at Teavana. Weird.
24. Use a line to pull the eye down the email newsletter
This is a pretty easy hack that you can add to your newsletter template in a few seconds, but I guarantee will help boost readability: use a line as a visual cue to guide readers’ eyes.
Sometimes your brain needs a little hint about what to look at next, and that line connecting points or sections will help it out. But it doesn’t need to be very obvious to do the trick, as you can see in this newsletter example from Udacity. It’s so subtle that people won’t even realize it’s there, but it will still do the trick.
25. Make your CTA an offer they can’t refuse
What’s more simple than replying to an email? Not much, and that’s probably why they used it as a call to action in this email. To start working on a gift package with Greetabl, the customer simply has to the email. No clicking a link or filling out a form. Just an easy reply, like they are talking to a real person down the hall.
Also, I like how they use white space and large font to put that CTA at the forefront of the newsletter example. That section is the first thing you are going to be drawn to and it has some of the most important info of the whole newsletter.
26. Give the readers exactly what they want
We have already talked about how well lists work in a newsletter. But in this newsletter, I want to highlight how Zapier does something a bit different.
In many newsletter examples I looked at, people would use a catchy header and then bury the information they referenced somewhere else in the newsletter. Instead, Zapier gives the reader exactly what they said they would in the header.
This may sound like a small thing but people get mad if they have to really search to find something that should be easy to find. I shouldn’t have to get my magnifying glass out or scroll to the bottom to find something you talked about on the first line or even the subject line
27. Add a bold font to upend information hierarchy
To say that Cotton Bureau used a bold font on this newsletter may be putting it lightly. This is a font that you can’t ignore when it hits your inbox, especially in the header.
The header uses this font to bring you into the email, but I think the best use of it is on the “Free Shipping” offer. This is an easy hack to put the reader in the right state of mind before they read all the other information as well. Now they know that they will be getting free shipping before they even look at the shirts or read more about the company.
28. Don’t be afraid to keep your newsletter brief
You may have noticed, that a lot of these newsletter examples are rather large. In fact, your scrolling finger may be getting a little tired by now. But as you can see with this email newsletter template, not every newsletter needs to be a novel. It says exactly what it needs to say–in this case, making a few book recommendations–and that’s it.
Getting an email like this is bound to stand out in an inbox, based on the simplicity alone. Additionally, this is a newsletter that can be easily read on any screen or device.
29. Use all that user data you have in an interesting way
We have all gotten emails with our name and key details, like our birthday or hometown, included in the copy. Those details make the emails feel a little more personal and real.
But in this infographic newsletter example from Spotify, they take it to the next level. As you can see, this email was created for each of their millions of listeners based on their listening data. Each section was crafted just for them and gives them info that they care about.
30. A subtle GIF can improve your newsletter template immensely
I know that GIFs are a marketer’s best friend. They can help express emotion, show someone how to do something or just add some motion to your graphics.
In this newsletter, from Galleria, a GIF is used to add a tiny bit of motion to the header. It’s nothing fancy, just a few alternating colors, but it will draw the eye to it. I have seen GIFs that use a subtle amount of motion work extremely well on social media, and think they are perfect for newsletter templates as well.
31. Use alternating colors to break info into tidy sections
Using alternating colors is a fantastic way to break your email newsletter template into consumable sections. This tip comes directly from my experience creating many infographics over the past few years.
The different colors help the customer see that each section is different and unique. They, then see five small sections that they can work through rather easily. You can also use borders or lines, but I think that differing colors is the makes an instant impact in their mind.
32. Make a mutually beneficial request
There is going to be a time that you need your readers to go to bat for your brand. It could be filling out a survey, like in this example from Kate Spade, or helping you promote a new blog post.
Whatever it may be, most of them are going to need an incentive to help your company out, so give it to them. Only the most hardcore followers are going to do something without a seeing the benefit for themselves. The people who sent this newsletter get that and offered a pretty big discount to anyone that filled out the survey.
33. Use typographical emphasis to make CTAs easy to see
All of your CTAs should stand out relatively quickly on your newsletters. An easy way to do this is to use different sized or colored fonts. Or just by picking a wacky font that is used nowhere else.
But what if you just used italics or underlined the text to make it even more eye-catching? In this example from Edited, they do just that for the three CTAs in their newsletter.
34. Take some risks with your color scheme
There are no rules out there that say your newsletter has to look like a boring email blast. In fact, it should look like the opposite of that, so your readers don’t automatically delete it.
One way you can set your emails apart this year in by embracing bold color palettes. This email newsletter example from Lomography uses bold and bright colors extremely well. You’re going to have a hard time missing this email or the awesome cameras they are promoting.
35. A straightforward email newsletter never hurt anyone
In addition to using some bold colors, this newsletter also has a very straightforward goal: to get people to check out their sale. There is no pitch or hidden agenda that NeedSupply wants their readers to fall for. It’s almost like they are reaching out to a friend to tell them not to miss this sale.
Some people may think it’s too plain, but I think that is what makes it so effective. You want them to check out your sale–nothing else is really needed.
36. Use a photo as the background for your newsletter
Using a well staged and shot photo can make an outstanding background for your email newsletter. Be sure you pick or create one that allows the important text to be seen easily.
For example, this background photo from Birchbox is crafted in a way that the text doesn’t feel out of place. Plus, it shows off all of their products in a very natural way. Like you just saw them laying out on a table in your house, which feels genuine.
37. Hand drawn icons are always a plus
Over the past few years, we have seen hand drawn and dynamic icons really rise in popularity. This is probably a reaction to the clean and minimalistic design trends that dominated the past decade.
Hand-drawn icons and graphics can still really liven up an email newsletter template. If it fits your brand, like with Vimeo, you should definitely use them. They are a fun company that was built for creatives and dreamers, which means these fun illustrations are welcome in their newsletter.
38. Put your money makers front and center
Apple is known to not do a ton of traditional advertising but when they do, they definitely make it count. In this newsletter, they put their most important product right at the top. It’s the first thing that anyone is going to see when they open the email–and they know that is exactly what their fans want to see.
39. Feature user-generated content or reviews
The majority of people trust recommendations from friends more than other types of social proof. In fact, they will believe something from those people more than any other source.
Now that you know those stats, it makes sense why ClassPass would design a whole newsletter around social media reviews. These statements and photos, even from random users, hold a lot more power in the mind of consumers than anything the brand will say. I also really like that instead of using random names, they attributed the quotes to real social media accounts. That way you can check these people out and, hopefully, put a real face to that quote.
40. Don’t hide your branding or logo from view
This email marketing tip is mostly for companies that give their newsletters a name that doesn’t include their company name. Or for those massive companies, like Adobe, that have a ton of smaller brands under their umbrella.
In this newsletter example from 99U, you can see the Adobe logo in the header instantly. This will ensure that the brand power they have won’t be wasted. You may not know 99U very well, but mostly everyone has heard of Adobe. Also, it might remind people where they signed up for this newsletter.
41. Number the sections of your newsletter
Numbers can help keep people engaged with your content. I mean, look at how popular listicles have been over the past decade or so.
In this ShopStyle email newsletter, they use numbers at the top of each email newsletter section to keep things organized and hook the reader. Using numbers in this way gives your eye and brain a simple path to follow, and pulls you deeper into the content.
42. Visualize data with charts, pictographs, and infographics
Graphs and charts are a simple way to visualize complex data or information. Or to, put it simply, show that your company has been doing well lately when sending an email newsletter or update to the stockholders.
That being said, data visualizations in your newsletter shouldn’t be too complex. It also helps to point out exactly what you want the readers to take from a graph or chart, by using accent colors or visual cues like arrows.
43. Incorporate interactive headers
With a company as large as Airbnb, they have no shortage of creative talent. They also have an abundance of amazing places that you can stay around the world.
In this example, one of those places that you can stay at is featured in the newsletter header. And best of all, you can book it with one click, directly from the email.
They could have just as easily used the photo and then buried the link in the newsletter somewhere. But they made the header serve two purposes instead. You can easily copy their idea–for example, if you feature a blog post in your newsletter have the header link to that!
44. Use your consistent branding across all of your content
I was first drawn to this email newsletter template from Homepolish because of the clean lines and minimalistic theme. Only after I visited their website did I see the true greatness of this example.
The email newsletter and homepage feel so similar that people will never be mistake who the email came from. It honestly looks like you just stumbled upon another page on their website, not a whole separate email. Overall, it was one of the better uses of consistent branding that I saw in all of the examples.
45. Use graphics or icons to frame your text
One of the most interesting things that I saw researching this article was the unique way brands framed text. Most of the times it was with a nonintrusive border or a background.
But some of the trendsetters decided to use graphics and icons to frame their copy. Like in this newsletter example, from Nordstrom, which used a handful of flowers. This not only makes draws your eye directly to the message but fits what the text says.
Now you should have a lot of ideas to get started! Here are 8 of my favorite tips in case you missed them:
- Create an infographic-like newsletter
- Use complementary colors to make information pop
- Don’t be afraid to keep your newsletter brief
- Put your money makers in front of the readers
- Visualize data with charts & graphs
- Use consistent branding across your newsletter
- Send a welcome email first
- Make sure your CTA is worth their time
Additionally, you can get help from these email marketing tools to improve your campaigns. You can also check out this roundup post on the best email marketing tools for nonprofits to improve your email marketing campaigns.