We’re already halfway through the year and a lot is happening with email design.

With rendering in email clients constantly evolving and companies being more aware than ever about what their recipients want to read, we are experiencing changes within the content that meets our inboxes.

In this post we’ll explore how three of the latest trends have impacted the inbox so far this year and what could be coming next.

Navigation and Email Image Enhancements

Over the past year there has been a rise in capabilities of what can be implemented in email template design, and recently we have seen an increase in these innovative techniques hit our inboxes. Many companies are exploring interactive ways in email to better engage their audience, such as gifs, hover effects, background images and even hamburger menus and image sliders.

Examples can be seen across the board, including companies in the financial industry.

Chase de Vere, a financial firm in the UK, have opted for hover effects with their email CTA buttons, which brings their emails more in line with the look and feel of their website. This enables campaigns to act as somewhat of a microsite within the recipients’ inbox, bridging the gap between initial contact and increased engagement. We can only assume that over the coming years that other website interactions will continue to find their way into email design.

Deliveroo, a British online food delivery company, used a Valentine’s Day campaign to implement a gif into the header. Animated images are a great way to draw attention to important articles, however there are limitations with the compatibility in certain email clients. Testing is a vital part of the campaign process, before adding in gifs make sure that your audience is using the email clients that are compatible. Check out your campaign reporting, if all your recipients are using Outlook then this might not be worth exploring – unless most are viewing the emails on their iPhones, which are known to easily render all the interactivity mentioned above.

Here at StoneShot, we’ve been using background images more frequently as you can see with our recent platform update email. Being able to use background images has enabled us to create eye-catching headers whilst still having such elements as logos, titles and call to actions visible even when images are turned off. If a recipient has their images disabled or images aren’t compatible with their email client, then we suggest a solid background colour to be the fall back.

Increased Personalisation in Email Design

Personalisation has evolved since using ‘Dear…’. Studying your post-campaign data, such as clickthrough rate, engagement and conversion rates, can help you gain a better insight into how your audience engages with your emails. With companies focusing more on this type of data we have seen an increase in emails containing content that is related to the user, which gives them a friendlier approach. Along with targeted articles, personalisation such as including names in subject lines and main headers, contributes to humanising communication as well as provides a clear and concise message to the recipient.

In addition to analysing your campaign data there is also huge benefit in creating a preference centre for your audience. Hargreaves Lansdown, a financial services company, has adopted this approach. Using a simply structured email and an easy to complete preference centre, they allow the user to create a profile which dictates the type of emails they receive as well as the frequency.


Learn more about personalisation and content marketing in our other blog post ‘A Guide to Intelligent Personalisation (Part I)’.

Modern & Minimal Email Template Design

Over the past year email design has taken a more modern turn. There has been an increase in the use of white space, simple layouts and large imagery and typography to create more minimalistic and clean communications. Not only do these make emails look better but it allows users with accessibility issues to easily view your emails, perhaps opening a wider audience to your campaigns.

In the additional financial marketing examples below you can see that Wisdom Tree Funds keep their blog content focused with large copy and a clear call-to-action. And Stella Capital Advisors use large imagery and key facts to keep the attention of the reader. Both show a clear structure to their emails using space appropriately.

Another company that has focused their efforts on modernised design is MOO Print Limited, an online print and design company. White space doesn’t have to be ‘white’ and MOO templates are a great example of this, they use a lot of brightly coloured backgrounds that mould to their big, bold imagery. Along with focused content and clear call to actions they really know how to grab the readers’ attention.

With more and more functionality in demand, it is hopeful that email clients shall follow suit. We are constantly seeing email providers such as Outlook and Gmail inbox features evolving and perhaps eventually you will hardly see a difference between what’s on the web, versus what you can find in inboxes on multiple devices – although we’re pretty sure this will be quite far off!

What do we recommend? Focus on the present and explore new opportunities within email design. Add a little interactivity or personalise your content to test what your audience engages with. We will certainly be testing this out ourselves at StoneShot.

If you have any questions about email design or personalisation, we’d love to see how we can help.