10 Email Design Trends to Supercharge Your 2021 Newsletters


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2020 was an unexpected year full of challenges, transformations, and adjustments. There were colossal changes all round, including how marketers went about selling us their products and brands. 

Since most businesses relied on email marketing to reach their consumers during the lockdown, we saw major business orientation transformations in the space. 

Email marketers have evolved and adapted in so many influential and innovative ways heading into this year. We expect newsletters to be big in 2021 and remain one of the top marketing strategies for years to come. For every $1 spent on email marketing, you can expect an average return of $42. That’s an impressive ROI. Newsletters with interesting and engaging content can help growth minded businesses connect with their customers and boost sales leads. 

Email trends of 2021 are about influencing subscribers on an emotional level. Email marketing should be a top focus for anyone wanting to elevate their digital presence. You can ace your email design strategy, win more sales, increase customer engagement, and beat the competition by staying on top of the following ten hottest email design trends:

1. Personalization

Customers love it when they get individualised attention. Personalizing emails and newsletters for subscribers is proving to be successful. Personalized emails tend to get a 100% increase in responses. The need of the hour is to create a custom experience for every subscriber. They should think they’re important enough to be communicated with on a personal level. 

Personalize your newsletters by using your customer’s name, especially in the subject line. Emails with personalized subject lines generate 50% higher open rates. This is the incredible impact of personalization. 

A great newsletter would be one with a customized greeting that’s individualized for every customer. You could also customize the newsletter according to the customer’s industry or area of interest. Your newsletters, and the offers they are detailing, need to be based on a customer’s buying history. 

While creating impressive personalized newsletters requires work, as you create an experience that is tailored to every customer, you increase customer retention. Personalization can be easily automated so it isn’t much of a hassle, especially in light of the advantages. 

2. Long Text

As discussed earlier, lockdowns had profound effects on consumer behavior. With the hours and hours of “me” time during lockdown last year, many of us took to reading. And, with all schools and universities shifting to virtual learning, a lot of reading was being done on our phones and computers. 

There’s been a revival of sorts for the written word. Everyone’s now on the lookout for good literature. Email designs that have good content to read are appreciated. Emails that provide food for thought are becoming more popular among the masses.

No matter what sector you belong to, if you have something interesting to offer, now’s the time to create a conversation about it! Long, interesting, and engaging emails are the hottest trend for 2021. 

Good email copy needs a great copywriter. To ensure your copywriters are giving their best and focusing on your goals, we suggest using project scheduling software so you can develop sustainable workforce performance levels.

3. Bold and Beautiful

While we might have time on our hands to read, if content doesn’t look appealing it will be ignored. Bright colors and bold text make for brilliant design. Everyone’s striving to forge an online presence, and this is how you can stand out. 

Grab the reader’s attention and lock it in, especially with your header and email signature design. Use engaging layouts, large imagery, a wide array of colors, and bold typography. In short, create eye-catching effects.

 Here’s how you can nail this trend:

  • Make sure your emails are bright and not boring. 
  • Make sure reading your content does not seem like a task. Break your text into segments and label them.
  • Only give the required amount of information. Don’t go overboard and exhaust the reader.

The following email newsletter is a good example of a bold and bright design:


Source: Pinterest

4. Minimalist Approach

Although clients now have the time to read, they still don’t want you to overwhelm them. Keep it minimal, and don’t waste your one shot to engage a lead by cluttering your message. Using pastel palettes to counter the muted monotony of a minimalist style has been a popular approach in ecommerce designs as well. 

The clutter-free approach helps the reader sift through the information. They don’t feel intimidated and overburdened. If bright and bold doesn’t suit you, 2021 is all about using white space and a pastel palette to design emails. Using techniques like layering, one-click scroll, and creating blocks is important. This approach helps you add more information while keeping things simple. Minimalism makes your email look fresh and light.

Source: Pinterest

5. A Broken Grid Can Be More Eye-Catching 

Layout matters as much as color. The traditional email layout is organized and well-aligned. Boring. Your emails can choose to adopt a new and exciting broken grid layout. These layouts are all about giving a more abstract feel to the email. Introduce creativity by overlapping content, adding stacked elements and animations. Simply mix up the structure of the email. A broken grid is also more mobile-friendly.

Here’s how you can achieve the broken grid layout for your emails:

  • Vary the alignment and ignore the proper row and column settings.
  • Introduce layering in your content. Layering also breaks the grid while looking cohesive and relevant.
  • Include containers and blocks for improved visual representation.
  • Create whitespace and avoid clutter.

You could also use a long frame of content with floating elements, instead of always maintaining a linear order. This makes for a more worthwhile scrolling experience, as most emails are seen on mobile first. The following image is an example of a broken grid: 

Source: Image Source

6. Include Video in Your Emails

With the advent of 5G in sight, videos are as necessary as images. Including videos in emails was a major trend that picked up in 2020; and will only become more popular this year, too. According to a recent survey, the presence of videos can increase the click rate by a massive 65% and bring down the unsubscribe rate to a significantly lower 35%. Videos are engaging and entertaining, so why not spark up your emails with them?

While including videos in your emails, make sure that the reader will be able to play them. Given that most big email platforms do not allow video playback, the best approach is to add a link to the video in your email. Using a good cloud management platform will definitely come in handy in making sure these videos arrive to their intended recipients. 

7. Add Animations

Animation can explain whatever the mind of man can conceive. This facility makes it the most versatile and explicit means of communication yet devised for quick mass appreciation.

Walt Disney

Disney is right. Since you’re limited by file size, and videos aren’t allowed by many major email providers, the next best thing to create an interactive and engaging newsletter is animation layering. Animations will load quickly and catch the eye in a reasonable file size. If you want to dazzle the customer in one glance, add animated effects in your newsletter, and overlap them with static images.

Your email will feel alive with the inclusion of dynamic effects. It’ll enhance the message of your email and invite your customer to engage with the CTA without being too pushy. You could use small animations or one big graphic, depending on your content. Rest assured, they will make your email stand out, and the customer will have to stop and scroll through. 

If your graphic designers know how to collaborate effectively with your copywriters, you can create a newsletter that hits the mark every time with effective words and stunning moving images. 

8. Be Aesthetically Pleasing

Every client’s inbox is bombarded with emails every single day. If you wish to stand out among the spam and junk, you need to be chic and sophisticated. Boring is out; beautiful is in. Your newsletter should be pleasing to the eye. Your readers will first look at the images, layout, and colors, and then the text.  If you choose bold colors, don’t go overboard. If you choose muted colors, intelligently break their monotony. It won’t sell if it doesn’t look good. 

Up your graphics game, make it interactive and accessible. Use great photographs if you have any. Don’t clutter your feed, and most importantly, convey your message as simply as possible. We have recommended bright colors and bold text, but simplicity is key. Do not overdo any aspect of design. 

9. Dark Mode Compatibility

Talking about bright and bold, the hottest trend of the ‘80s is back, and it’s all about playing with a dark background against neon colors. It’s not something new, but adds a very impressive retro vibe to the contemporary branding strategy.

Every day, more and more people are switching to dark mode to read their emails. It is, therefore, crucial to optimize your emails so that they are compatible with dark mode as well. To make sure that your emails are dark mode compliant, use transparent images and outline the black text. Test your emails for dark mode before sending them out, and partner with sources to add slick animations and motion effects to your emails.

Source: Chamaileon

10. Make Your Email Strategy Customer-Centric

If the past year has taught us anything, it’s definitely sympathy and empathy. Targeting emotional responses is the best way to connect with your customer. Brands have increasingly learned that it’s not only about informing the customer; it’s also about connecting with them. 

Email marketing in 2021 is all about making the clients believe that whatever they are going through, they’re not alone. Provide an exceptional customer experience and always show empathy (pandemic or no pandemic).

Customer satisfaction trumps all else, and giving customers center stage should be the focus of your branding strategy. Take advantage of the customer’s pandemic-driven desire to socialize, and offer them a shared experience that’ll make them feel important. Email and social media marketing, coupled with webinars, smart use of customer relationship management (CRM) software, and even conference calls, can truly complete a focused customer engagement strategy. 

Supercharged Newsletters Are The Way Forward 

It’s a mixed bag for the email trends of 2021. While you need visual oomph, minimalism and pastel colors are definitely in fashion. A flash of neon can look pretty great, especially given that we’re looking to break away from simple linear designs. Focus on engaging subscribers, locking their attention, and keeping them entertained using videos and long text.

You need an email marketing strategy that’s tailored to your brand’s customers and personalized, too. The ten trends above will help you create visually fascinating but unobtrusive emails that will give customers a nudge as subtly as possible in the right direction. These design trends will ensure vibrant and stunning email copy in the face of constantly evolving technology.

Samuel O'Brien
Sam O’Brien is the Chief Marketing Officer for Affise—a Global SaaS Partner Marketing Solution. He is a growth marketing expert with a product management and design background. Sam has a passion for innovation, growth, and marketing technology.


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