Email Mockup: The Essential Guide to Designing Effective Email Campaigns

Email Mockup: The Essential Guide to Designing Effective Email Campaigns

Visual content is crucial in email design: after all, visual information is processed 60,000 times faster than plain text. In this article, we’ll focus on email mockups which can help to visualize design concepts and communicate them to email subscribers: you’ll learn what email mockups are, their differences from email layouts and templates, the parts that make up an email mockup, and examples of good email mockups. 

What is an Email Mockup?

An email mockup is a visual representation of what an email may look like, but it is not functional or coded. It is often used to communicate design ideas or concepts before coding the email. A mockup can be created with graphic design software or email marketing tools, and it can help ensure that the design aligns with the brand's visual identity and marketing goals.

What is the Difference Between Email Mockup, Email Layout, and Email Template?

As we’ve just mentioned, an email mockup is a visual representation of the concepts of the future email campaign. 

An email layout refers to the arrangement of the different components within an email, such as text, images, and calls to action. A layout determines the hierarchy of information and the visual flow of the email.

Mind that the terms email mockup and email layout may be interchangeable: some designers may use these terms referring to the same concept. 

Unlike an email mockup or layout, an email template is a pre-designed and pre-formatted email that can be edited and sent to the end recipient. Creating an email template is the final step of email production.

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What are the Parts of an Email Mockup?

Usually, email mockups consist of the following parts:

  1. Header: It includes the logo, company name, and other branding elements.
  2. Body: This is where the main content of the email is located, such as text, images, and calls to action.
  3. Footer: It typically includes the company's contact information, social media links, and an unsubscribe link.

We’ll discuss each element of the email mockup and some other details in the next section.

email mockup scheme

How to Create a Good Email Mockup: Step-by-Step Guide with Examples

Creating a good email mockup requires attention to detail and a good understanding of the brand's visual identity and marketing goals. Here is a step-by-step guide to creating a good email mockup:

Step 1. Define the email's purpose and target audience

Before starting to design the email, it's important to understand the purpose of the email and the audience it's intended for. Ask yourself questions such as: What action do I want the recipient to take? Who is the email targeting? What is the message I want to convey? You can even divide your target audience into several groups and see which mockup would suit each of them. Later, you will be able to segment the audience and personalize the mockups for each group. 

Understanding the purpose and audience will help to guide your design decisions and create a more effective email mockup.

Step 2. Select a color scheme

Choose a color scheme that aligns with the brand's visual identity and marketing goals. Think about the emotions you want to evoke with the email and choose colors that can help convey those emotions. For example, blue can convey trust and security, while red can convey urgency and excitement. Use up to three or four colors in the email to maintain consistency and avoid overwhelming the recipient.

If you’re not sure what colors to choose for your email mockup, you can use ready-made color palettes from experienced designers: you can find such palettes on Color Hunt or Paletton.

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Step 3. Add branding elements to your mockup

Add the company's logo and other branding elements, such as fonts and graphics. These elements should align with the brand's visual identity and be consistent across all emails. Use appropriate fonts and graphics that align with the brand's style guide.

Quite often, brands have special brand books with all the necessary design details that can be used in the email mockup. Don’t forget to incorporate the correct color scheme, logo, and fonts into the mockup.

Shazam identity guide: guide to colors and logos
Example: Brand guidelines of Shazam

Step 4. Design the email header

The email header is the first thing the recipient sees when they open the email, so it's important to design it carefully. The header may include the email's title, a hero image, and other design elements that support the email's purpose. 

Make sure the header is visually appealing and consistent with the rest of the email mockup. Don’t forget that your email header is also vital for email delivery verification and sender authentication. 

Step 5. Design the email body: 5 ideas & examples for the email mockup

The email body is where the main content of the email is located, such as text, images, and calls to action. Use attention-grabbing headlines and visuals to make the body of your email mockup more engaging.

There can be different ways of arranging the elements of the email body in the mockup. The most popular ways to arrange the content are: 

1. Single-column email mockup: this mockup or layout features a single column of content that spans the width of the email. This layout is simple and easy to read and is often used for newsletters or promotional emails. Also, you can often see a single-column arrangement of the content in the mobile version of the email.

example of a single-column email mockup with text and an image
Single-column arrangement of an email

2. Two-column mockup: This email mockup features two columns of content, with one column typically containing the main content and the other column containing secondary content or a call-to-action. This layout or mockup is perfect for product or service announcements.

A two-column arrangement of email elements: one column contains a short text and another one contains an image
A two-column email from ASOS

3. Three-column mockup: This mockup arranges the email content into three columns. Email designers often use such mockups for ecommerce or promotional emails.

Three-column email mockup with images of products and short captions
Example of a three-column arrangement of email content

4. Grid email mockup: This mockup consists of a content grid with each piece of content arranged in a box or tile. This layout can be used for promotional emails or for showcasing multiple products.

A grid email mockup with a headline "Sporty chick" and a product grid
A grid email from ECCO

5. Hybrid mockup: This email mockup or layout combines different elements of the single-column, two-column, and three-column types to create a unique mockup that suits the specific needs of the email.

A hybrid email mockup with images, text, and a product grid
A hybrid email from ECCO

Ultimately, the mockup that you choose will depend on the goals of your email and the design preferences of your audience. Perhaps, the best solution is to test different types to determine what works best for your specific email campaigns.

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Step 6: Add a footer to your email mockup 

The email footer should include the company's contact information, social media links, and an unsubscribe link. The footer should be visually distinct from the rest of the email and indicate the end of the email. The contact information and social media links should be accessible to the recipient.

Step 7: Optimize for mobile, review and test the email mockup

When you finish your desktop version of an email mockup, don’t forget to optimize it for mobile and test it on different devices and email clients to ensure the correct display. Make sure that the email is mobile-friendly and that all links and buttons are working correctly. Consider sending the email to a small group of colleagues or friends for feedback before sending it to a larger audience.

5 Common Mistakes in Email Mockups 

Here are some common mistakes in email mockups and how to avoid them:

  1. Too much content: One of the most common mistakes in email mockups is including too much content. Emails should be concise and to the point, with a clear and specific message. Also, we recommend including one to three CTAs in an email mockup.
  2. Inconsistent branding: Inconsistent branding can be a major turn-off for recipients and can make the email seem unprofessional. To avoid this mistake, you must include the company's branding elements consistently throughout the email, including fonts, colors, and the company logo. Be consistent with the company's visual identity and style guide.
  3. Poor readability: Poor readability can make it difficult for recipients to read and understand the email's message. Always use a clear and easy-to-read font, and avoid using fonts that are too small or difficult to read. Make sure that the email is well-structured, with clear headings and subheadings. 
  4. Overuse of images: This mistake can make the email mockup seem to recipients cluttered and overwhelming. Each image should support the email's purpose. Also, don’t forget to use alt text to describe images for recipients who cannot view them.
  5. Poor mobile optimization: With more people accessing their emails on mobile devices, it's important to optimize the email mockup for mobile viewing: an email should have a responsive design that adjusts to the recipient's screen size. Usually, designers use a single-column layout or mockup for a mobile version. Also, the fonts and buttons should be large enough to be easily clicked on a mobile device.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can create an effective email mockup that engages your audience and achieves your marketing goals.

What Tools to Use to Create an Email Mockup 

There are many tools and software used by designers for creating an email mockup. Here are a few popular options: 

1. Adobe Photoshop: Photoshop is a popular tool for designing email mockups. It offers a wide range of design features, including layers, shapes, and filters, making it easy to create custom designs. However, it can be a bit overwhelming for beginners.

a screenshot with email mockups and the Adobe Photoshop interface
Adobe Photoshop tools for designing an email mockup

2. Canva: Canva is a user-friendly design tool that offers templates and drag-and-drop functionality. It's a great option for beginners who want to create professional-looking email mockups quickly and easily.

an email mockup and the Canva editor interface
Email layout in Canva

3. Figma: Figma is a cloud-based design tool that offers collaborative design features, making it easy to work with a team. It's a popular choice for designing email mockups because it offers a wide range of design features and easy sharing options. At our agency, we mostly use Figma for creating email mockups and layouts.

An email mockup with a headline "4 things to do before holidays" and the Figma interface
Email mockup for a newsletter from EmailSoldiers in Figma

Final words 

Creating an email mockup is an important step in designing an effective email marketing campaign. Let’s sum up all the essential things you need to know about an email mockup:

  1. An email mockup is a visual representation or design of an email that is created before the actual email is sent out to recipients. Sometimes the terms email mockup and email layout may be used interchangeably. 
  2. A good email mockup includes the branding and is in line with the peculiarities of the target audience. 
  3. The basic elements of any email mockup are a header, a body, and a footer.
  4. The most popular ways to arrange content in an email are single-column, two-column, three-column, grid, and hybrid mockups.
  5. Always make sure that your mockup is mobile-friendly. When the email is ready, remember to test it on different devices and mobile clients.
EmailSoldiers Team
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