Basics of Email Template Design



Well designed email templates are critical to ensuring that your brand and personality are reflected in every communication with customers and email subscribers. 

Creating a base template is a great way to ensure that your emails always look consistent and on-brand. Having a strong series of base email templates will also save you a lot of time as you expand your email marketing. A base template should include your company's standard fonts, colors, and logos. Each template should also feature a design that reflects the email's purpose.


Once you have a few basic templates designed and saved in your template library, creating compelling emails for any occasion will be much simpler. If you are looking for inspiration, visit the Klaviyo blog.

The guide explains how to approach email template design in Klaviyo. Keep in mind that Klaviyo's drag and drop editor makes it easily to build out beautiful and responsive templates. Check out our comprehensive guide to Klaviyo's drag and drop editor.

Establish your Color Scheme & Template Style

Through the Klaviyo Setup Wizard, you can establish your company's standard fonts, colors, and logos. The stylistic settings you establish in the Setup Wizard will automatically be applied to all existing and new email templates you create in Klaviyo.



When you choose a color scheme for your base templates, consider the color scheme already leveraged for your brand - on your website, in your logo, etc. Departing from this color scheme may confuse your email recipients, while sticking with an established set of colors in your emails can help build brand recognition.

What if you aren't sure how to identify the exact colors that match your logo/website? When picking colors in Klaviyo, you will notice that each color comes along with a code in the format of #XXXXXX. Hexadecimal numbers are used on web pages to set colors. There are many tools available online that can instantly identify the hex code for any color on a webpage.

A few tools to consider:

  • For Chrome: ColorPick Eyedropper or Eye Dropper
  • For Safari: Color Picker
  • For Firefox: colorPicker

Regarding use of color, you will want to consider the following:

  • Email Background
  • Content Background
  • Text Color

To make your emails easy to read, consider sticking with black and white for your background colors, and adding in pops of color through your headers, footers, headlines, and - of course - images. If you are going to use the same color for your email and content background, you can add a border to anchor your content. You can also use a simple repeating pattern as your Email Background.


You can adjust all template-wide settings for your email by navigating to the Styles tab on the left-hand navigation menu:

  • The Email section is where you can set Email Background and Content Background, as well as set a border for your email
  • The Text section here controls normal or paragraph text
  • The Links section is where you can update the styles that will be applied to all hyperlinked text
  • The Heading 1 through Heading 4 sections set the default styles for each pre-formatted headers; if you use a specific color for different headings on your website, you'll likely want to use the same styles here
  • The Mobile section contains important settings regarding mobile optimization
  • The Background section is where you can set and configure a background image for your template

Learn more

Recommended blog post: The Anatomy of an Email Template

The Email Template Layout

Klaviyo provides 8 Base Newsletter Templates out-of-the-box for all accounts:

  • Newsletter #1 (Images & Text) - This template starts with a 3-column split featuring three images, and then contains one text block below
  • Newsletter #2 (Image Gallery) - This template, aptly named the "Image Gallery", starts with a short blurb of text followed by a 3x3 grid of images
  • Newsletter #3 (Image Gallery with Captions) - Similar to the Newsletter #2 template, this template features a 3x3 gallery of images, but each image includes a caption line below
  • Newsletter #4 (Story Boxes) - Story boxes are great if you have stories or announcements - this template allows you to feature a graphic or image and then add a short description
  • Newsletter #5 (List of Text Headlines) - If you curate a list of interesting or helpful links daily, weekly or monthly, this template is easy to edit and easy to read
  • Newsletter #6 (List of Icons & Headlines) - Similar to the Newsletter #5 template, this template features a list of linked headlines but also includes a small icon to the left of each
  • Newsletter #7 (Snack) - A snack email has four components: a headline, an image, a short description and a button people can link on to learn more or keep going
  • Newsletter #8 (Snack w/ Recommendations - Similar to the snack email but including recommendations

These eight template designs represent best practice layouts that can be customized and recycled for a robust email marketing strategy. We recommend using these templates as a starting point as you work to build your own branded base template library.

Optimizing for Engagement

Keep in mind that with a template layout, less is often more. This is especially true when mobile viewing is a consideration. We recommend sticking to three columns max, and keeping your emails short and sweet. A few reasons why size matters:

  • When you curate the perfect amount of content for each email, you're sending from a position of power - you know you have something relevant and interesting to share that will resonate with your audience. Don't weaken this position by padding your message with more content that will distract from the email's purpose.
  • Too much content turns into an infinite scrolling experience for your recipients. Content overload can lead to a reader making a quick decision to stop reading and move on; studies show that users, on average, spend about 51 seconds engaging with a newsletter email and only 19% of newsletters are read in full - 35% of the time, readers merely glance at the email's content.
  • If you pull in a lot of content, and use a significant number of images, the placement of your call-to-action (i.e. a Buy Now button) really matters; if your call-to-action is near the bottom of your email, you will likely see your engagement levels suffer.

Some other tips to improve engagement follow:

  1. User preheader text. You will notice that all of Klaviyo's default templates include a text block at the very top with one line of text. Preheader text, sometimes called preview text, is the first component of any email. Preheader text is aptly named, as this is simply the first text that appears in your email -  a recipient will see this text directly after the subject line when viewing your email in his/her inbox. By accounting for the initial line of text at the very top of every email template, you can help your emails stand out in a crowded inbox.
  2. Center your content around a clear call-to-action (CTA). The purpose of each email you send may vary - one may encourage recipients to browse a certain area of your website, another might be focused on driving revenue around a particular item, while another might have a goal of generating more social media follows. If your email has a goal to prompt a specific action, don't forget to actually prompt readers to take the action. With only 19% of all newsletter emails being read in full, a clear action step near the top of an email is crucial. You can use a button, link an image, or leverage styled hyperlinked text. The key here is to use "active language" to encourage your readers to take a decisive action (i.e. BUY NOW, VIEW ITEM, FOLLOW US NOW).
  3. Consider that the average reader will scan your email from left-to-right and move quickly downward. This is called the "F Pattern" and this study provides much more detail around scanning behaviors. By placing your most eye-catching and engaging content on the left-hand side (i.e. intriguing images, powerful statements in bold) you can nudge your readers to continue reading. Furthermore, by placing need-to-know details and your email's CTA in a strategic location near the top of your template, you're more likely to see high conversion rates.
  4. Find a balance between images and text in your emails. Emails that consist solely of images (or are super image-heavy) trigger spam filters - this means it’s important to make sure your emails contain a combination of images and text. Spammers have evolved and started using images as a way to avoid spam trigger words, but ISPs have evolved faster. Email on Acid found that your emails should contain at least 500 text characters in order to dodge spam filters. 

Other Resources

Still looking for inspiration? Explore the following posts from the Klaviyo Blog:

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