Email Design Trends of 2016 (so far)

Back in the day we used to do this thing called “The Most Clicked-On Emails of the Month.” It was extremely time-consuming and we would rather binge-watch Fuller House on Netflix, but there was this little voice that kept nagging us to bring it back. That little voice came from people like you (or maybe you directly, but we’d like to keep this whole intro and backstory part anonymous) so here you go. However, we are doing this more on a as-we-feel-like-it basis. Sorry. Let’s see how far we make it before we turn back on Fuller House (it was just renewed for a second season, guys).


Email Trend Thingy #1: Make sections of your email content shareable.

We’ve been seeing the share icons at the bottom of emails for ages (here and there you’ll see them at the top too), but something new in the space is adding a share icon right in the smack of a paragraph or next to a promo code. Why not get your captivated audience to help spread the word while you can? Does it hurt to try? We haven’t seen the outcome of how this impacts click rates, but would be happy if someone reading this would like to share their data with us. Here are some great examples recently:

Email on the left is from InVision. Email on the right is from Handy.

Where we could see this come in handy (no pun intend from the earlier example) is putting a link to tweet content which is unique to the recipient. For example, this Fitbit summary would be a great place to include another link to do that below how many steps you took in the year (before and after):

Email on the left is without a link to tweet. Email on the right includes a link to tweet your individual stat, thus increasing the reach.

Email Trend Thingy #2: Request feedback of the email in your email

Square was awesome for having your rate your experience right in their transaction email with a smiley face or a frowny face. Then late last year, we saw AirBNB testing something similar in their emails, but directed more at how you liked the email and found it relevant with a check mark or an X. This trend is starting to pick up this year, as Google has started to implement it at the bottom of its emails and a few other companies have too.

You can easily build your own version of this with this Email Sentiment Builder on CodePen from Chris Vasquez. Or, if you are feeling a little more lazy, you can just have them respond to any generic question to see if they are reading all the way to the bottom like The Hustle does:

A variation of this is to get more feedback at the beginning of your welcome series. This way you don’t send stuff that they’ll find boring from the get-go. You can devote an entire email to this kind of feedback, like Houston did here:

Email Trend Thingy #3: Include a “Pro Tip”

For some reason, “pro tip” sounds better than “normal tip.” Just go with it.

Email on the left is from Framer. Email on the right is from your InVision again.

Email Trend Thingy #4: Show off your best, recent instagram photo at the bottom

We aren’t talking about your latest selfie — we are talking about jaw dropping, noteworthy photography. Like the ones that people don’t believe that you took with your iPhone 6 that you dropped last week.

Email on the left is from W&P Design. Email on the right is from Backcountry.com

Email Trend Thingy #5: Give some breathing room to your Z patterns

Touching each other is gross. Give your rows some personal space.

Email on the left is from Canopy. Email on the left is from Uprise Art.

Email Trend Thingy #6: Review your past year in a long graphic.

This is typically done in December or January. But since we are just getting to this trend thing now, we threw it in. We cited the fitbit email from earlier, but here are another couple that caught our eye.

Email on the left is from Flywheel. Email on the right is from Ugmonk.

Email Trend Thingy #7: Include an image of your app on an iPhone

Is this really a trend if people have been doing it since the iPhone debuted? Yes. Even though there are just as many android devices sold as there are iPhone devices, you aren’t cool unless you put your app on an iPhone and show it off. It is just one of those super long trends.

Email on the left is from Framer. Email on the right is from Trainline.

Email Trend Thingy #8: Create two columns for your counting

Because Count Dracula told us it was cool to count, making it easier to see the actual numbers in your counting is even better.

Email on the left is from Designmodo. Email on the right is from Resy.

Email Trend Thingy #9: Create your own icons for an associated action

Instead of counting, use an icon instead… because some people don’t know how to count and iconography is way cooler.

Email on the left is from Ignite. Email on the right is from Tookapic.

It doesn’t have to be two column. You can do it this way too:

Email Trend Thingy #10: Use Blue or Green for a CTA button (but never Brown)

We wanted to end this one on a high note. After looking at over 200 of the most recent emails on ReallyGoodEmails.com, we cataloged the color of each main CTA button. Below is the distribution.

As you can see, blue and green (and their variations) were used the most. Brown wasn’t used at all. You are probably wondering how we gathered this data, so we wrote this article about everything we learned about Email CTA buttons. It is pretty interesting.

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This post was written by Mike Nelson (@mevlow) of Really Good Emails. Mike was the marketing director of an Inc 500 company, IRCE 500, and taught at the graduate level. In his spare time he writes sh*t like this.