Email Marketing Design Trends

2021 Email Marketing Design Trends

By Megan CombsMay 20 /2021

2020 flipped traditional consumer habits upside-down. Buyers are now conducting more research before purchasing, they’re into shopping almost exclusively online, and with the advent of the coronavirus, they’re even more cost-conscious.  

One thing that remained relatively the same was email marketing — in fact, 2020 did email campaigns a favor. Despite having to pivot messaging and delivery, a new report by SparkPost shows email “remains a stable channel in terms of overall volume globally and when it comes to investment — even during the recession.”

Here are five trends shaping email content and campaigns in 2021.

5 Trends Shaping Email Design in 2021

With all these changes in consumer behavior, it’s time to rethink your email marketing design to match your audience's needs. Consider these five trends as a few ways to spice up the look of your emails in 2021.

Responsive Design/Mobile-First

One of the most important elements of email template designs is that they are mobile-friendly. A responsive email will render correctly on any device, and sometimes this means designing specifically with mobile in mind. According to HubSpot, half of the nation’s consumers read emails on a mobile device. With up to 78% of emails being opened on a mobile device (depending on target audience, product and email type), it’s important to get this right because if they can’t read it, it’s going in the trash.

Designers at Kuno use stacked modules rather than side-by-side graphics both in our branded emails and for clients. This ensures that graphics aren’t hanging out at the side of a mobile device and no additional side-scrolling is required.  

Benefits of responsive design emails:

  • Your message is received the way you intend
  • User satisfaction increases when an email can be read properly
  • Aesthetically pleasing, compared to plain text emails
HubSpot Video

Emotional Design

There are nine emotions you can trigger for maximum email conversions:

  • Belonging
  • Greed
  • Guilt
  • Trust
  • Curiosity
  • FOMO (fear of missing out)
  • Hope, optimism
  • Love/lust
  • Vanity

Today’s consumers want a brand experience that comforts their vulnerabilities, and you can tap into that by connecting through email. To evoke the emotions you’re going for, use proper imagery and colors (see Muted Colors below). Before you create your email, make sure you know which emotion you’re trying to provoke, otherwise, you may not achieve your end goal.

A sure-fire way to get an open? Include a personalization token.

Benefits of emotional design:

  • Higher conversions
  • Perception of a community among users
  • Builds trust with your audience

Bold Typography

Traditional email design uses an image or photo as the hero banner across the top. A rising trend is to replace that image with bold typography. In a society where people enjoy skimming rather than thoroughly reading, bolding your message helps it resonate. Whereas italics can help emphasize a point, bold type hits the point home and captures reader attention.

Benefits of bold typography:

  • Quickly capture reader attention
  • Helps content double as a design element
  • Reinforces a message


Choosing background images that have a gradient or ombre effect will create a more soothing, captivating email newsletter experience. You could also experiment with gradients in your CTAs using your brand colors.

Benefits of using gradients:

  • Adds visual appeal to flat design
  • Evokes a retro feel and stands out from ordinary graphics
  • Creates a memorable design that will resonate with your audience

Once again, you’ll need to do a little research because not all email clients accept gradient designs. One workaround is to have a fallback to a flat-color design.



Muted Colors

Starting last year, many email marketing campaigns started using muted colors rather bright, intense colors. Muted colors are just desaturated versions of other colors, created by adding white, black or other complementary colors to the original. Muted colors have been a favorite of health and wellness companies as a way to depict safety.

It’s important to choose your colors wisely because research shows color has the power to influence purchases or attract certain types of shoppers.

Benefits of using muted colors:

  • Less eye strain with softer colors
  • Colors muted with white are seen as positive. They can portray purity, cleanliness and calm.
  • Muted blues promote serenity, calm and reliability. Muted greens reflect freshness, tranquility and peace

Amplify Your Email Design

Email marketing and email design go hand-in-hand. You work hard to create content that resonates with your audience, and it’s time your design did too. Adding these email design trends to your digital marketing strategy will earn you more conversions, trust and customers.

Email Marketing Strategies in Content & Design for 2017

Megan Combs
The Author

Megan Combs

Megan provides copyediting and macro editing recommendations across Kuno. Previously, she was a top content marketer at Vendome Healthcare Media, where she helped clients translate their brand promises into strategic digital and social media messages. She also served as a content creator and editor at AOL’s