First impressions are powerful. In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell famously wrote, “Buyers make most decisions by relying on their two-second first impressions"
Email headers can be your 2-second secret weapon for making a great first impression with your email newsletter.
The header is the first thing that most people see when they preview or open your email. A compelling design can be the difference maker if they stay or go.
It’s essential that the header design captures and holds your reader's attention. It’s your opportunity to make a visual statement about your brand.
There is no secret formula for designing a great email header. You need to start by asking yourself,
'If I get 2 seconds of their attention, what do I want people to think and remember?'
While some header designs work well with just a logo, we believe the best approach is to add some type of imagery along with your branding. Images can tell a story or leave an impression within seconds.
In addition to imagery, it’s important to design headers that are consistent, clear and include some form of branding that sets you apart.
At MailerLite, we are always taking photos of the team and our experiences, which gives us a library of images that we can later use for our email headers.
Once you’ve found the perfect photo, make it your own!
Of course, you’ll want to add your unique brand design cues (logo, color, icons, fonts) to ensure your readers instantly recognize that the newsletter is from you.
Stock photo example:
Stock photo customized:
It might be tempting to include a lot of information in the header. Don’t do it! Less is more. The whole purpose is to grab their attention.
When you add too many images or too many words, the reader might get turned off. Keep it simple and clean.
Simple and Clean Example:
Let’s face it, no one really knows if a design will work until they test it out. If you are unsure why different headers are working or want to experiment with a few designs, set up an A/B test.
Just remember to keep your newsletters exactly the same except for the header design. This way, when you get the results to see which design is more effective, you will know that the header design is the difference maker.
Have fun and take some chances. If your crazy design ideas don’t test well, at least you pushed the envelope to get the best design possible.
Once you settle on a design direction, the trick is to keep it consistent while also keeping it fresh.
Try to use the same structure and branding elements (such as the same color and fonts) in your design, but change the images to relate to the topics within the newsletter.
Our GDPR newsletter series is a good example of keeping a consistent design while using different imagery. Here are three different headers under the same brand look and feel.
Now that you have the fundamentals down, it's time to get inspired. Spend time looking at other emails to get ideas and best practices.
Check out these header examples below from our own customers.
Clean design and clear
Lacks a descriptive headline to draw the reader in.
Image size is large. Header size should be about 600px wide and 200px high.
Slight movement makes up for no image
Lacks personality and uniqueness
Might not draw people in (that’s why we test :-)
The image describes exactly what the newsletter is about.
The text is clear and doesn’t clutter the image.
Includes branding logo and colors.
Want more newsletter header inspiration? We are fans of Really Good Emails. They highlight the most recent email designs.
Have design questions? We love to talk about design. Leave your message in the comments section and we will do our best to help you!
Hi, I’m Mantas, a designer at MailerLite. While most of the time I wish I was a professional snowboarder, I am super happy to be considered a professional newsletter designer as well. I’ve created templates for almost every occasion and if you’re interested, you can see them in our gallery.