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Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Today we are going to discuss how to optimize email newsletter design for audience engagement.

A staggering 81% of B2B marketers trust email newsletters to connect with their target audience. Newsletters are the Holy Grail of any successful email marketing strategy. However, not all of them are created equal. Some drive meaningful interactions and subscriber engagement, while others go unnoticed, in the spam folder.

So, what’s the secret for your newsletters to fall under the first category? Besides sharing valuable content, here are six email newsletter design best practices to boosting audience engagement.

Ensure Your Newsletter Design Is Responsive

If there’s one digital marketing mistake you should avoid at all costs, it’s not checking whether your newsletters look good on your subscribers’ mobiles or tablets. Your newsletter should be optimized to read well on every device and screen type. That’s how you’ll know that all users have the email experience they deserve. And there are more benefits to it: 

Optimize Email Newsletter Design. Butterfly showing benefits of mobile-responsive design in email campaigns.


In a world where people use their smartphones not just to check their emails but also to research and buy products, mobile responsiveness is crucial. Here are some key steps to make sure your newsletter layout is mobile-friendly:

  • Keep your design simple: Opt for a clean, simple, and properly structured design. Avoid cluttered layouts with excessive elements that may overwhelm smaller screens.
  • Consider the single-column layout: Designing emails with a single-column layout ensures users won’t have to scroll horizontally, making the content easier to interact on mobile devices. 
  • Break down your text: Use short paragraphs with a maximum of four sentences instead of large walls of text. Write in simple and concise language to enhance legibility for all users—this is a prerequisite for accessibility standards, too.
  • Mind your button and link size: Your buttons and links should be large enough to be tapped with a finger on touchscreen devices. Also, create CTAs in the form of buttons to make it easier for mobile users to click.  
  • Choose the right font size: Keeping in mind email readability, stick to font sizes that are legible on mobile devices. You should aim for a minimum font size of 14px for body text and 22px for headings.

Reflect On Your Brand Identity

Consistent and effective branding is all about leveraging the same or similar brand assets across your website, email campaigns, sign-up forms, and social media. 

You can choose pre-made newsletter templates and customize them by adding your logo, brand colors and fonts, and design elements. Constant Contact, HubSpot, and Moosend are some of the best newsletter platforms that offer beautifully designed and responsive templates.  

And since one email won’t be enough to nurture your audience, you’ll want to save your favorite templates for future use. Or you could just keep specific content blocks to incorporate in similar email campaigns. That way, you have branded emails without the need to start from scratch every time. 

But to do so, there should be no limitations to the customization options offered by your email marketing solution. For instance, Constant Contact seems to need to catch up in flexibility during the email creation process. Some users report email design customization to be tricky and that they have yet to be able to save content blocks for future use. Others mention they find the platform’s design capabilities to be limited. 

So, if you need more sophisticated customization in email templates, consider choosing one of Constant Contact’s alternatives so you can tweak your design to match your brand identity and needs every single time.

Invest In Visual Elements

Studies show that the human brain is more likely to respond to visual stimuli compared to text:

Humans Process Visual Data Better. How To Optimize Email Newsletter Design For Audience Engagement


Your subscribers are no different since they scan visual elements more easily than email copy. That’s why they are more apt to remember messages conveyed through graphic elements. Not to mention they are highly shareable content, so they can help expand your reach and attract new subscribers. 

Including visuals in your email newsletter design is a prerequisite for increasing email engagement. But what should you go with?

You can use high-quality images to showcase your products or services and increase the chances of subscribers clicking through to learn more. Videos are a bulletproof way to demonstrate new features, promote new products or services, or even tell exciting brand stories. 

Animated GIFs are particularly effective in grabbing attention while adding an entertaining touch to your newsletter content. Including memes in your design is also a great way to convey humor or create a sense of relatability with your audience, thus humanizing your brand.

However, using visuals in your newsletters could come with downsides, if not done properly. First, you must ensure that they enhance rather than distract from the message. Also, you should consider file size to prevent slow load times for your emails. Lastly, keep in mind that visual content could include potential issues for visually impaired people relying on screen readers. Also, your email design might not render properly in email clients that don’t display images by default. 

Build Visual Hierarchy

Capturing recipient attention starts with establishing a visual hierarchy in email newsletter design. Prioritize your most important content, such as your headlines and primary information at the top left because that’s where readers naturally start reading. Another key factor is organizing sections in a logical way to differentiate headers, email bodies, and CTAs. 

You should design your email newsletter to naturally lead the reader to your key messages and email CTA. Whitespace around elements allows you to create an uncluttered newsletter layout. If you use product or service images, add spacing around them to guide readers’ attention to your value proposition. Not to mention that this email practice allows you to break up text-heavy sections and improve scanability.

Another way to create a visual hierarchy is through typography. The font size, style, and color help you guide the recipient’s eyes from one crucial element to another. By using different font sizes and styles, you establish a clear hierarchy in your email copy. Also, you can make critical components (like links or buttons) stand out by leveraging contrasting colors. 

Here’s an example of an email newsletter by Graza building visual hierarchy through several design elements:

GRAZA - build your digital hierarchy.


The title is in a large font size and bold color, which makes it prominent and attention-grabbing. Each section is clearly defined with distinct background colors and varied text sizes to guide the reader’s eye in a structured manner. The benefits of signing up are listed in bullet points, making them easy to scan. These elements build visual hierarchy effectively while encouraging engagement.

Optimize Your CTAs

How can you tell if your newsletter design is successful? It’s quite simple: does it get clicks? Here’s where your call to action comes in. Whether you’re asking readers to go to your blog, visit your online store, or follow you on social media, you should make your CTAs as clear and simple as possible. Let’s go through some basic steps to optimize them for conversions:

  • Be transparent about where your CTAs direct the reader. Show them clearly where you send them and what you expect them to do there.
  • Mind the placement. Your CTAs should be in key points within your newsletter content, usually above the fold or near the end of your email.
  • Make your CTA visible through bold colors, sufficient contrast with the background, and large font sizes. That way, subscribers can immediately spot and click on them.
  • Use action-oriented and concise language to let readers know exactly what their action should be and urge them to take it.
  • Use CTAs in the form of buttons since people are more likely to click on buttons instead of text links, especially when on mobile devices.
  • Test and keep optimizing. Experiment with different fonts, colors, placements, and copy to determine which CTAs bring the best results.

Test Your Newsletters

No matter how confident you are with your email newsletter design, you should always test your newsletters to check that everything works properly. You can test your newsletters internally by sending them to your team and gathering valuable feedback. Don’t forget to check your design across different devices and email clients to ensure it looks great for all users.

It’s equally important to conduct A/B tests to see how different email elements perform in terms of crucial email marketing metrics like open and click-through rates or conversions. Some of the most common elements to test are your subject lines, graphics, copy, and CTAs. Then, all you need to do is monitor which components got the best results and refine email creation for future campaigns.

Increase Audience Engagement With Professional Newsletter Design

Email newsletters are indeed a form of art. But creating beautiful newsletters doesn’t have to be complicated. Following email newsletter design best practices is all you need to create beautiful newsletters that perform great. Here are the key takeaways to remember: 

  • Invest in responsive designs to make sure your emails look great across all devices.
  • Incorporate compelling graphics to grab attention and simplify messages.
  • Optimize your CTAs to encourage readers to take action easily. 
  • Prioritize important information by establishing a visual hierarchy.
  • Keep testing and experimenting to understand what resonates with your audience.

Putting these tactics into practice boosts engagement and keeps your business top of mind. To make the most of your newsletters, always remember that they’re an integral part of your brand identity. So, stay consistent and authentic to reach long-term email marketing success.

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Categories:  Email Marketing

About the Author

James McMinn

Senior Digital Strategist

James is a savvy digital marketing specialist with a Masters of Science in Internet Marketing. For the past fourteen years, he has been specializing in SEO, PPC & Marketing Strategy. He has a super sharp analytical mind and a finely tuned creative eye for marketing initiatives that optimize brands.

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