Seven design tips and trends email marketers should keep in mind.

*Editor’s Note: We’re super excited to bring you a guest post from Katie White, Associate Director, Travel & Hospitality, Media and Telco at Movable Ink. For more information about Movable Ink, click here.*


A picture has always been worth a thousand words, but these days, we’ve entered an era in which visuals are becoming our preferred means of communication. Up to 85% of our perception, learning, activities and cognition are mediated through vision. We also process visuals faster — 60,000 times faster than text, to be exact.

This led to an all-new set of opportunities for digital marketers. In order to keep users engaged and eventually convert them, brands need to create compelling visual experiences based on all the demographic and behavioral data customers are sharing with them. Today’s marketer needs to be design-savvy to keep up with the visual era.

Keep an eye out for a few of these design trends to help you stand out:

1. Break the grid

We’ve always relied on the grid to balance our layouts, but now designers and marketers alike are breaking it in order to express brand personality, differentiate, and grab customers’ attention. Expect to see more asymmetry and elements stretching beyond borderlines.

Mote uses white space to complement its “broken-grid” design.

2. Typefaces with personality

Animate, undersize, right align, highlight or stack, there are no shortage of typography tactics to help bring your message to life. It all comes down to brands exploring ways to create visual interest in a world post-flat design. Bold typography conveys authenticity and can add some personality to otherwise minimalist email, website, or ad. P.S., serif is the new black.

Design agency Godfrey Dadick uses bold serifs and highlighted green text to make a statement.

3. Bold color and duotone palettes

Everyone loves crisp, clean creative with tons of white space, but even Apple is starting to introduce more color in their marketing. Being smart about the colors you use is a science, literally. Color psychologist Satyendra Singh determined that it takes only 90 seconds for a customer to form an opinion about a product. And, 62-90% of that interaction is determined by the color of the product alone.

Spotify uses bold colors in their annual wrap-up.

And here’s some implementation advice for your marketing team:

1. Be strategic when you’re refreshing existing creative

Start by auditing old campaigns and heat maps to get a sense of what’s still engaging. Is your top nav really doing work for you? Is there a way to minimize your header so you can pull up your body content “above the fold” (whatever that means anymore)? Then, put together a testing plan and introduce design changes in a calculated way so you can measure the true impact of each update.

2. Test and optimize to support your design efforts

Channels with scale allowing marketers to iterate quickly lend themselves to these new testing opportunities — email is absolutely one of them. Depending on your list size and segmentation strategy, you can reach hundreds of thousands of people and get direct feedback via clicks about what is appealing to them. It’s a great opportunity to layer in content, color, and template tests to put some numbers behind the hunch your design team has about redesigns.

Plus, if you’re not A/B testing, you’re leaving money on the table. Litmus reports successful email marketing programs are 32% more likely than less successful programs to A/B test at least a quarter of their broadcast and segmented emails (71% versus 54%).

Supercharge your efforts with AI. Movable Ink’s creative optimizer uses an algorithm that helps test your creative in real time, so your audience will see the highest performing creative variation. We are working on some exciting new features that will enable the optimizer to identify if responses to the creative change over time (and which creative performs best for your customer segments).

3. Make the most of your resources and time

Over 54% of companies have six or more emails in production at one time, with 31% having less than half of a week of work going into each one. That’s already a tall order, and the majority of teams spend the most time in their email design phase.

Adopting a modular design strategy for your program will free you from recreating the wheel for every campaign. If you are able to save modules or content areas in a library like Movable Ink’s Studio, then you can pull from them whenever you need them.

Check out our infographic and a few more tips for optimizing your email production flow here.

4. Design should be a key component of your campaigns from the beginning

Handing off a ton of copy and requirements to a designer and expecting it to work perfectly is simply unproductive. Design should be a part of the brief process from the very beginning.

Truly successful, customer-first programs will include dynamic behavior-based content that creates a 1:1 visual experience for the customer. Ensuring all of those possible variants and data points become a picture worth a thousand words requires an eye for design. It will probably cut down on that production time, too. 😉

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