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3 Email Layout Designs That Boost Email Engagement

Email layout can often mean the difference between success and failure in your email campaigns. Learn more about 3 email layout designs that boost email engagement.

Layout planning and sketching

Your email layout is often the most important factor in getting subscribers to read your content.


If your emails are poorly designed or difficult to scan, subscribers are likely to delete them without even reading them.

On the other hand, if your emails are well-designed and easy to read, subscribers are going to be far more likely to read them (and take the action you'd like them to take, of course).


Let's discuss 3 email layout designs that boost email engagement, which are popular, tried and tested methods for nailing your email layout: the Inverted Triangle layout, the Z-Pattern layout, and the F-Pattern layout.


In this article, you'll discover how each email layout works and why these are a good choice for certain types of emails, along with some tips on how to choose the right layout for your emails.


1. The Inverted Triangle Email Design


The inverted triangle layout is one of the most popular email layouts out there. Because this design follows the natural way that people scan emails, you're creating a solid visual hierarchy right off the bat. We've spoken about visual hierarchy before (read that here), so getting this established in your email layout is critical.


To kick things off, here are two great examples by the Flipping Book & Campaign Monitor blogs to give you an idea of what this type of layout looks like:

Inverted triangle email layout design examples

Now, how this works is, to begin with, when readers open an email, their eyes are drawn to the top of the message, so the most important information or introduction is placed there.


This follows the "Rule of One" principle that we've discussed before (read that here).


The Inverted Triangle layout places the most important information at the top of the email, with less important information further down. This makes it easy for people to scan the email and quickly find the information they are looking for and creates that visual hierarchy we mentioned earlier.


This visual hierarchy and the way your readers' eyes navigate these emails look as follows:

Inverted triangle visual hierarchy in email design

As you can see above, the reader's eyes are drawn downward, after receiving the message, to a clear action. That's why this principle can be a game changer, especially when looking to create a sense of visual hierarchy.


When to use the Inverted Triangle Email Design


The Inverted Triangle layout is a good choice for emails that need to communicate a lot of information quickly.


For example, it is a good choice for sales emails, marketing emails, and promotional emails. The goal is to "hook" your reader, offer them more information and get them to take the action you intend them to take. No nonsense.


If you're promoting multiple products, this may not be the best choice for you. We'll explore more on multiple-product emails shortly, but there are multiple actions that readers may take in these emails, which is where you need a different way to get eyes on your content.




2. The Z-Pattern Email Design


The Z-Pattern layout is another popular email layout that is based on the way that people's eyes naturally scan a web page.


When people look at a web page, their eyes tend to follow a Z-shaped pattern. The main reason for this is due to the fact that when reading from left to right, we have a tendency to jump ahead when engaging with content. This rings especially true in the email space.


For context, here are two examples by Brevo and Business 2 Community of what the Z-Pattern email design looks like:

Z-Patter email layout design examples

The Z-Pattern layout takes advantage of this natural scanning pattern by placing the most important information at the top of the email, followed by less important information in the middle, and then the call to action at the bottom or at the edge of every point of that "imaginary Z" in your email layout.


The way your readers' eyes will be navigated across your email is illustrated as follows:

visual hierarchy using the z-pattern email layout design

Again, here you can see the natural progression from left to right, with each section drawing the eye to the next part in a natural way.


This does not mean, however, that the whole email has to be shaped like one big Z.


Even though this might work for sign-up forms, landing pages or most intro sections of an email, content that uses storytelling can follow the shape of subsequent, smaller Zs, creating what is called a Zig-Zag Pattern.


When to use the Z-Pattern Email Design


The Z-Pattern layout is a good choice for emails that need to communicate a lot of information or content, but that also have a need to be visually appealing.


For example, it is a good choice for product-oriented emails, event invitations, and travel emails. Because there are multiple calls to action and points of interest, this layout can still appeal to skim-readers and subscribers who are quickly looking for information on each section of your campaign.


If you're looking for a single action to be taken in your emails, you may want to rather consider the Inverted Triangle Design we spoke about a little earlier. However, if you're looking to get readers to consume more than one snippet of information this layout is ideal.




3. The F-Pattern Email Design


The F-Pattern layout is essentially a variation of the Z-Pattern layout.


The style of layout places the most important information at the top of the email, followed by less important information on the left and right sides of the email, and then the call to action at the bottom.


This, again, follows the natural progression of a reader's eyes from left to right, leading one section into the other with a call to action placed strategically at the start of the next section on the left that the eyes are drawn to, below that. As the text goes on, the sweeps to the right become shorter, leading to the call to action.


For further context, here are two great examples of this design showcased in articles by Mailmunch and Firepush:

F-Pattern email design layout examples

As with the Z-Patter Layout, the F-Pattern Layout follows the natural scanning of content in a left-to-right fashion.


Eye-tracking studies such as this one by the Nielson Norman Group back this with empirical evidence. If readers consume content digitally in this fashion, why not have your emails laid out to suit their habits?


Here's an outline of how a reader's eyes scan content in the shape of the F-Pattern:

F-Pattern email design layout visual hierarchy

By arranging the different pieces of content on your email along the shape of the F, you're prioritising the most important and least important parts.


Place the most important parts in the “hot spots” of the pattern to increase reading interaction. This allows your content to still be understood and internalised even when skim-read.


When to use the F-Pattern Email Design


The F-Pattern layout is a good choice for emails that need to communicate a lot of information, but that also need to be visually appealing and easy to read on mobile devices.


For example, it is a good choice for product announcement emails, company news emails, and customer support emails.


If you're a news publisher, these are great to create short headlines with snippets of article content and an image attached before leading readers to a call to action to read the full article.


This layout is not without its potential flaws. You're temporarily disrupting the structure of content by shortening it as you go, so there's the potential to have multiple calls to action ignored. Generally, it's best to apply this to your email content after creating a solid intro using something like your Inverted Triangle layout.




Which Email Layout Design Should You Use?


As always, the best email layout for you will obviously depend on the type of email you are sending and who your target audience is.


When choosing an email layout, make sure to consider the following:

  • The type of email you are sending

  • Your target audience

  • The overall message you want to convey

  • The tone of your email

  • The design of your email

Once you've run through these, you'll find making the decision about which template or layout to use just a little bit easier.


If you are sending a sales email, you might want to use the Inverted Triangle layout to get your message across quickly.


If you are sending a marketing email, you might want to use the Z-Pattern layout to create a visually appealing email that subscribers will want to read to the end.


And if you are sending a customer support email, you might want to use the F-Pattern layout to make it easy for people to find the information they need.


There are no hard and fast rules dictating which pattern to use. You could incorporate all three of these layouts into a single email if you wish. As always, regardless of which layout you choose, make sure that your email is well-designed and easy to read.


Use clear and concise language, and make sure that your call to action is clear and easy to understand.


Which email layout design is your favourite?



Before you go! Email design means nothing if you don't have a database! Learn the fastest ways to grow your email list today by clicking here or on the image below 👇

Free email database growth playbook

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