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Illustration in Email – How To Use Illustrations To Create ‘Wow’ Email Designs Email

Illustrations are one of the most powerful storytelling tools, and they fit exceptionally well in creating impressive emails. Emails are known to club visual and text elements to convey messages and upping your graphic game goes miles for your brand engagement. We came across many readers who wanted to know about using illustration in email marketing lately. So, we came up with this article on using visual elements for everything, including onboarding, cross-selling, retention, feedback, and much more. This article will help email developers, designers, and marketers in building a captivating reading experience. 

Illustration in Email: How To Use Illustrations To Create 'Wow' Email Designs

Quick Stats: Having graphics can boost your open rate by 27% and CTR by 4.5%Here, we are sharing the top 10 tips for ‘show, don’t tell’ email template design. We have also included examples of each tip for your perusal. Dive in deeper to get inspired from some of the most eye-catching emailers and for learning to create email designs with the ‘wow’ factor.

#1 Use Colors For Storytelling And Supporting Your Copy

One of the most significant advantages of using graphics is that you don’t need to leave a lot to the reader’s imagination. You can use them to build an experience instantly without them making any voluntary effort. In this email design from Clear, they used the colour theme for aiding storytelling and almost narrated the copy with the dark colour theme. The candle, spider webs, and the darkness effortlessly complement our dislike for standing in a line at the airport security. Telling the same story in a text-only way would have never done enough justice. Make sure you use the right colour palettes which agree to the tone of your message and help replace large portions of your written copy.

Illustration in Email

#2 Leverage Infographics To Cut Through The Clutter

Bloggers are proactively leveraging infographics, and it is high time you start including them as a part of your email marketing strategy. Especially while sharing feedback and reports, they can go miles in putting up the major highlights. In this example from Hers, a lot of data is curated in the form of multiple illustrations packed in an email. The sleek, minimalist design turns the otherwise dull data into a compelling, read-worthy message. Also, sending multiple illustration in email is a smart move since using a single image would have made it difficult to follow individual messages in them. Most marketers feel that sharing statistics or listing major outcomes in emails is not a good idea. However, you can convert them into infographics to cut through the clutter.

email illustration

#3 Blend Your Brand Language In The Illustration in Email

When it comes to brand language, a few names emerge as the most public profile conscious businesses. They ensure the standardization of their brand language down to the pixel level. McDonald’s is one such company that blends its brand language into everything it does. You see how they clubbed the visual appeal with the ‘Thank You Message’. Also, the little McDonald’s signboard placed just above the CTA adds to the already captivating UX design. You can also use your brand elements in your email design to make your messages reflect your brand language. Just make sure you don’t overdo it as adding too much brand-specific tone dilutes its effect.

email ads

#4 Infuse Features And Processes In The Visuals

Sending out purely promotional emails is a nerve-wracking experience for every marketer. Usually, they end up using a sales heavy copy that does more harm than good. Thankfully, using visual elements can do the job for you. As you can see in the below email from Corkcicle, they just turned a purse into an ice crate to demonstrate the insulation feature of their handbag. 

email web design

In the same way, you can also infuse an entire process in your email copy without writing a word like the marketing maestro Dollar Shave Club. In this enticing email, they displayed the wait and footstep delivery side by side. Using teleportation was also something all of us fantasize about while ordering online. Illustrating features and processes can turn the tables for your email marketing campaigns.


5 Rope In Graphics To Solidify The Purpose Of Your CTAs 

Calls-To-Action is the most generic-looking elements across all messages that land in our inboxes. Adding to it, the limited character count doesn’t leave much room for pouring in any creativity. A lot has been said about building purpose-oriented CTAs, so we thought of this example of roping in graphics from Return Path around their CTAs. This reactivation email with images of smiling and sad faces solidifies the purpose of both CTAs. You can also add illustrative images around your CTAs to create an organic yet persuasive email design.

email design

#6 Use Creative GIFs For Grabbing Attention in Illustration in Email

GIFs are around since long, and the current trends still favour them as an attractive multimedia format. They can easily replace videos in email design. Keeping the file size small is a big priority. GIFs can hold the attention of your recipients without hurting your deliverability or making your content unavailable to the low latency regions using 2G/3G data connections. As you can see, Harry’s just pulled down an entire factory, something that isn’t usually found in emails. This GIF grabs attention instantly and uses such attention-worthy items that can increase your CTR by leaps and bounds.

email pictures

This playful emailer from Moo is another example of using GIFs to create refreshing and playful messages. You too can use GIFs to drive higher engagement effortlessly.


#7 Use Supporting Elements Smartly in Illustration in Email

Illustrating an idea is better than explaining it, and this email from G-Shock is a perfect example of using supportive elements smartly. They used an athlete performing heavy exercises wearing the G-Shock watch to demonstrate their USPs. Thus, instead of putting up the watch directly, using other supporting props gave them an aesthetic appeal that is in sync with their copy. Similarly, you can add supporting elements to your regular emails to enrich their overall impact.

email message

#8 Use Graphics And Icons As Props

GIFs are great props for displaying your ideas, but graphics too can do the same job if used creatively. Using graphics can elevate even the most simple messages as you can see in this ‘Forgot Password’ email from Lingo. 

forget message emailIcons are equally useful to reinforce small yet essential portions of your email. Lending Tree beautifully used them to illustrate their services. If you are mailing your email list with repetitive or common messages, using such a small value-adding illustration in email can help you stand out from the crowd.

email design


#9 Don’t Mind Going Out Of The Box While Using Interactive Elements For Illustrations 

If you are all in for creativity, going out of the box in your email marketing efforts can be a feast to the eyes. Using the carousel effect in emails is one such trick done right by Invision, and it paid really off. This took the GIF, CSS styling, and responsive email development to another level. You can also use interactive elements in various types of emails to illustrate the art of visual storytelling. Going the extra mile is absolutely worth it as emails have the highest ROIs among all digital marketing channels.

thank you message email

Countdown timers are very popular across all platforms when it comes to surfing the FOMO tides. A lot of brands use countdown timers to create a sense of urgency like this one from Vodafone. Using timers in your responsive HTML email templates is a great way of adding time-sensitive elements and making your message persuasive without writing a single word. Countdown timers can be placed beside product prices to amplify the sense of urgency in case of exclusive offers. Make sure to include them in your email designs whenever a time-bound action is considered.

email images

Illustration in Email – Summing Up

The show, don’t tell is a timeless technique harnessed by marketers from time to time. The Rolls Royce Silver Ghost’s 27x London to Glasgow journey translating to 14,371 miles played a pivotal role in putting the British luxury marque on the top of the automobile world. In the same way, you can use illustration in email to add credibility and the ‘wow’ factor to your custom email designs. We hope that you find this article on using illustration in email marketing resourceful for your future efforts.

Kevin George
Kevin George is the head of marketing at Email Uplers, which specializes in crafting Business Email Templates, PSD to Email Conversion, and Mailchimp email expert services. Kevin loves gadgets, bikes & jazz, and he breathes email marketing. He enjoys sharing his insights and thoughts on email marketing best practices on an email marketing blog.
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