Email design trends 2023
2023 is all about showing rather than telling. We’re seeing graphics move to the forefront of email design, with product photos ascending the page, colour taking greater risks and animation stealing the spotlight.
While there’s some obvious attention-grabbing behind this, these trends may signal that readers are craving entertainment over cold, hard facts. And, with the number of emails and newsletters being sent worldwide increasing, it will require originality to stand out from the crowd.
With the average attention span being shorter than ever, we’ve witnessed an increase in minimalist, basic and sleek email template designs, particularly in transactional email.
The cleaner and clearer your email messaging is, the more it is likely to be heard in the sea of noise. Lean designs have a simple composition, generous spacing and a well-defined, on-brand colour palette, bringing calm and clarity to the inbox.
Minimalism is about avoiding the unnecessary and focusing on what matters most. You should be aiming to make it easy to scroll through your content and find clear, meaningful information whether it’s about a specific offer, event, blog post, or other highlights.
Think about white space, monochromatic colour schemes and limited use of fonts to keep your emails template designs fuss-free and easy to consume – and make your call to action obvious.
An illustration is an effective storytelling tool; it can help to demonstrate products in action and convey conceptual messages in a simplified way.
Research shows that when images are relevant and meaningful, audiences are more willing to engage with them.
Beyond the subject line of an email, one of the most important text elements is the headline. But it’s not always enough for headlines to be big and bold—they have to contrast artfully with the email’s design. But this year’s trend for styling headlines has to be one of the most counterintuitive: designers are creating dynamic headlines that overlap with images, colours and even other text.
“While this unexpected overlapping creates a basic visual interest, it also deliberately obscures the text. To what degree varies: this trend ranges from the subtle to the copy being made entirely illegible (as in the Brewbike example above - via Really Good Emails). It depends on what the designer is trying to achieve. If the actual content of the copy is most important, a light overlapping can simply make the headline even more eye-catching. If the brand personality is more important, a more extreme overlapping can come across as rule-breaking, messy and expressive.”
Personalisation is a trend coming from 2020. The more personalised the email can be, the better its chances of success. The elements of personalisation are:
A segmented database
Using the name property in the email content
Using smart tags to make the content more relevant
Using visual elements that resonate - images, videos, illustrations
Creating a unique user experience suitable for both mobile and desktop
Obviously, ultra-personalisation goes beyond design. It requires a fundamental shift in both design and strategy to ensure that every email is as relevant and direct to the recipient as possible. Think about Spotify’s and Strava’s ‘Year in review’ emails that personalise the name, content and statistics for each user. That’s how you cut through the noise.
Colourful and patterned drop shadows
Sometimes, the best trends are the simplest, like those that refresh a minor design element in a surprisingly effective way. And for 2023, the drop shadow—especially for CTA buttons—is coming back in style.
The drop shadow is one of the most common design features, useful for adding a touch of skeuomorphism to buttons, which creates the illusion of a physical button in place of a square link. But the new wave of drop shadows is stylised with solid colours and patterns, making page elements stand out through a bold outline.
The trend’s popularity has much to do with how easy it is to implement, as a solid colour or pattern adds a dash of style right where it is needed most.
Yes, a click on the CTA is what we create the email for. While using bold colours and placing the CTA aptly are ways to go about it, an animated CTA can be a game-changer for you in 2023. You can either create a GIF CTA or use CSS animation to make it lighter. Now, you can either animate the CTA itself or use animation around the CTA to draw the viewer's attention toward it.
Talking of animation: APNG
A survey conducted by Mailmodo states that 67% marketers use a GIF in their emails. Now, APNG is a more sophisticated version of a GIF. APNG or Animated Portable Network Graphics is an open standard for animated bitmap graphics and an alternative to MNG (Multiple-image Network Graphics).
Supports 8-bit alpha transparency and 24-bit colours
Better quality and resolution than GIFs
All major clients except Outlook.com and Gmail support APNGs (non-supporting clients display first frame, like GIFs)
The 1st image is a GIF, and the second one is an APNG image. Can you see the difference in image quality?
Illustrations and mixed dimensions
Another email design trend that is fast picking up with the email marketers is the use of illustration and graphics. By using mascots and cartoons in any kind to engage the readers with the content right from the start to make emails attractive and memorable. But where this trend is really developing is in the combination of illustrations with other dimensions, like professional photography.
It is conventional wisdom that a good design picks one style and sticks to it. But heading into 2023, many email designs are showing a mixture of opposing techniques - specifically, pairing simple doodles with professional photography.
“On the practical side, this trend creates contrast, making product photos stand out because they are juxtaposed against illustrative elements. At the end of the day, it is the cartoonish, brightly coloured and free-flowing qualities of these doodles that make the email feel less formal and more friendly. It becomes something more than an email - something closer to a note passed between friends in class.”
Embracing 2023 Email Design Trends
In 2023, the email marketing landscape will continue to evolve, with more brands focusing on personalized emails, responsive email design, creative visuals, interactivity and minimalism.
Subscribers want genuine brand engagement, and every email represents the opportunity to provide a unique and personal experience. Every element is important: from the colours and graphics, to the content’s layout – it all becomes an essential part of telling a brand’s story.
In the words of 99designs, "our inboxes are about to get a whole lot more picturesque. From floating product photos to animated displays, images are doing more than taking centre stage - they are stealing the whole show. Overall, these email trends are bringing entertainment, light-hearted fun and most of all dazzling artwork to our communications in 2023".
Email marketing healthcheck
We are confident that we can help you, which is why we offer a free healthcheck to identify potential issues with your current programme and free advice on things that could be done to improve it.