33 simple but effective email newsletter designs

A minimal approach can lead to a beautiful newsletter design. Here's how to do it right.

Creative directors, graphic designers, illustrators – you creatives are busy people. So the last thing you want is your inbox bulging with email newsletters. From small businesses you've never heard of to major retailers, it soon becomes clear how needlessly complex some newsletter designs can be, and how quickly they disappear into your trash folder.

Email design and structure is an art. When done right, subscribers love receiving your newsletters. When done wrong, newsletters get dumped into the spam folder and future messages will never be seen. Here's some examples of the ones that got it right.

01. FontShop

email newsletter designs: FontShop

Got fonts to sell? A newsletter's the perfect way to showcase them

If fonts are your business then a newsletter's the perfect platform for showing them off, and that's exactly what FontShop did in this responsive campaign showcasing its collection of rounded fonts both in the body text and over a series of full-width images.

02. Jack Daniel's

email newsletter designs: Jack Daniel's

Here Jack Daniel's introduces a new line and engages potential retailers

To launch its new Tennessee Honey whiskey to retailers, Jack Daniel's sent out this eye-catching and playful newsletter, serving two purposes: it made sure everyone knew what the new whiskey looked liked, and it encouraged people to click through to its Facebook page and leave comments.

03. Rolling Stone

email newsletter designs: Rolling Stone

Keep it simple: Rolling Stone gets straight to the latest news

When you're one of the biggest names in music news then you don't need anything flash for your newsletter; you just need the latest news. And so Rolling Stone keeps things admirably simple with its mail-out: a simple list of the latest stories that'll work just as well as (if not better than) a more heavyweight, over-designed effort.

04. TopShop

email newsletter designs: TopShop

TopShop's newsletters are designed to make you buy now and buy often

Fashion moves fast and TopShop works this to its advantage in its regular newsletters. It uses them to showcase new lines and suggest entire new looks, and ties everything to Shop Now links that make it quick and easy to get one more fashion fix.

05. Fred Perry

email newsletter designs: Fred Perry

With minimal design and pop-up shops to publicise, Fred Perry's newsletter is hipster gold

In contrast to TopShop's stack 'em high and shop now approach, this newsletter for Fred Perry is a lot more sleek and sophisticated, appealing to a design-aware market with a clean and minimal layout that makes the most of the brand's iconic laurel logo.

06. District Dining

email newsletter designs: District Dining

District Dining keeps things simple with a black and white design spread over two columns

District Dining, a restaurant in the Surry Hills area of Sydney, keeps its newsletter design simple with a black and white design spread over two columns, letting the fantastic photography of the venue and their food stand out. They also include their opening times in the footer of the design, which is surprisingly rare in restaurant newsletters.

07. Smithsonian

email newsletter designs: Smithsonian

Smithonian's efforts to advertise a design talk use a large call-to-action button alongside clear venue and date details

Email newsletter designss are often a call to action for a list's subscribers to take advantage of an offer, purchase a product or book an event. The Smithonian's efforts to advertise a design talk event are no different, with a striking header image and very clear venue and date details alongside a simply design but vibrant 'Register Now' call to action button.

08. Native Shoes

Email newsletter designs: Native Shoes

Native Shoes proves that simplicity can be very eye-catching

Native Shoes proves that simplicity can be very eye-catching indeed with its newsletter design featuring large, welcoming typography and intriguing photographs. Paired with their one-column layout, it draws your eye down the page to skim every article within it: nicely done!

09. Lole

Email newsletter designs: Lole

Lole's simple template that doesn't feel pushy or salesy

Lole is a female clothing brand, and its clean design with blocks of their bold yellow colour and simple photography make for a simple, stunning template that doesn't feel pushy or salesy.

10. Think Clearly

Email newsletter designs: Think Clearly

Look forward to some handwrittern goodness from Think Clearly

Created by Mathias Jakobsen, this newsletter strays well away from the traditional newsletter designs we're so used to seeing in our inbox – and that's why we love it. Developed for his company Think Clearly, Jakobsen's refreshingly unique approach sees his subscribers receive a handwritten email, complete with doodles and reflection exercises. A brilliant reminder that the humble pen is still very much a mighty tool.

11. Budnitz Bicycles

Email newsletter designs: Budnitz Bicycles

Clean photography being used to great effect for Budnitz Bicycles

Another example of clean photography being used to great effect, Budnitz Bicycles' template makes use of the ubiquitous one-column layout to make the most of the limited screen width we’re left with for newsletter design.

12. Fiasco Design

email newsletter designs: Fiasco design

Fiasco design keeps things simple

Whilst Fiasco Design's template relies heavily on imagery from a design project completed for one of their clients in its newsletter design. The overall effect is a great appreciation for their work as you're drawn through the identity and its various applications. The progress bar centered alongside each heading is a particularly nice touch to indicate the reader’s progress through the newsletter.

13. Jetsetter

Jetsetter welcome email

A clean, clear design Jetsetter's newsletter presents a comprehensive overview of their service

There is always a bit of risk and uncertainty when a subscriber first signs up to your email or service. They hold their breath as they click 'sign-up' and slowly exhale when the first email comes in and it’s revealed that you will not be spamming them with all kinds of junk.

The Jetsetter welcome newsletter design has a lot of new users slowly exhaling and relaxing when it first comes in. Clean, clear design presents a comprehensive overview of their service, benefits and options available to you as their user. This is an email designed to be kept and referenced. It is almost a user account screen or service dashboard designed for your inbox.

14. TeamWorx

Email newsletter designs: teamWorx

TeamWorx is an email with a list of the latest jobs in retail

TeamWorx is a newsletter design with a list of the latest jobs in retail. The great, strong design of the email will leave you in no doubt as to who found you your next job.

15. Tenderstem

Email newsletter designs: Tenderstem

This is a newsletter about broccoli. Yes. Broccoli

This is a newsletter design about broccoli. Yes you read that right, broccoli! They're doing something right if they manage to get me looking twice at the 'green stuff'. Tenderstem, wisely, don't give their product the hard sell – instead, they plug into the whole foodie culture. And who doesn't like reading about delicious food and drooling at gorgeous photos of the dishes?

The design is bright and fresh, as expected, but also brings in a bit of personality and nature with the loose font and rough edges. A really lovely design.

16. Percept

Email newsletter designs: percept

Percept have turned the presentation of client projects into a design piece

From one extreme of almost no images to a newsletter made almost entirely of images – the contrast cannot be more extreme. Percept have turned the presentation of client projects into a design piece.

This is an approach that has worked very well, as their newsletter has been shared extensively and featured in email design collections all over the web for the last few years.

They were still wise enough to keep the text portion of the email as HTML so it can be read when images are turned off. Something all email designers should remember.

17. Storied

Email newsletter designs: Storied

This newsletter is simple but classy

The creators of Storied from stock image agency Corbis understand the power of faces. Of course it helps that they have access to some of the most famous ones. We are all drawn to faces. It is an inbuilt response that you can take advantage of in your designs. Add to that the power of stories, and you have a winning email newsletter. The design is simple but very classy-looking in black and white. Again, a newsletter I look forward to getting and reading every month.

18. Eroi

Email newsletter designs: Eroi

Eroi go to great lengths every month in customising the style and illustration of their emails

Eroi go to great lengths every month in customising the style and illustration of their emails. The always interesting and focused content keeps you engaged and coming back for more.

19. Litmus

Email newsletter designs: Litmus

When you're operating a business in the email space the pressure is on to make your email look good

When you're operating a business in the email space the pressure is on to make your email look good. And Litmus' design looks good, broken into clear bands of colour and sections to highlight and differentiate aspects of their business and product.

Next page: 14 more simple but effective email newsletter designs...


Richard Carter is creative director at web design agency Peacock Carter Ltd.