Bigger Companies Should Take Note Of These Great Emails From Startups
Columnist Andrew King opines on what's cool in email design, showing examples of innovation from startups.
I’ve been receiving a lot of emails from startups recently and notice they are surprisingly good at email design. So, let’s take a look at the anatomy of a startup email design, because every business — no matter how long it’s been around — could learn a few things from their examples.
Obviously, the first thing every startup needs is an über cool-looking logo that’s fun and funky, yet sophisticated and professional. A startup’s logo almost always features prominently at the top of the email with very little else surrounding it, as if to say, this is our brand, enough said.
Large Amount Of White Space & Minimalist Designs
More established companies could learn a lot from startups’ minimalist designs that usually include large amounts of white space, making their emails super easy to read and scan for the info you want.
Startups also tend to use very large line heights, which I think really helps make an email easier to read, especially on smaller screens.
I Like Big Buttons, I Cannot Lie
Startups have the art of button building down! You don’t see startups inserting important links within paragraphs of text these days; they almost always have a large, sometimes bulletproof button.
I’ve also noticed that most emails I receive from startups seem to be very focused on one particular message, so having one main call-to-action seems to come naturally.
Many brands seem to be afraid to deviate from standard Arial, Times New Roman, or Helvetica fonts. Not startups! I’ve seen Gotham, Proxima-nova, and Helvetica Neue used within startup emails, which is awesome to see.
Why not use something a bit more interesting as your main font? You can always have Arial as a backup anyway, so I’m not sure why some brands are scared of trying something different.
Plus, those fancy fonts are going to work on Apple products, so you’ll know at least a good portion of your database should be able to see them.
The Lyft email in the image below uses a font stack as follows: font-family:gotham,proxima-nova, helvetica neue,arial,sans-serif. Gotham is the first choice followed by Proxima-Nova and Helvetica neue. Arial and san-serif are tacked on the end as the last, but safest, choices.
Mobile Optimized But Not Necessarily Responsive Emails
One thing that I’ve noticed about emails from startups is that they are often aware of the need to optimize for mobile – I mean, most of their apps/products are mobile-centric, so it’s only natural.
However, some startups have been making interesting design decisions when it comes to mobile optimization.
For example, Venmo doesn’t mess around and just goes to every subscriber directly with a 320px wide email. And that does kind of make sense since its product is mobile-only and most of its subscribers/customers are probably checking their emails on mobile anyway.
Uber and Lyft recently went responsive with their emails, which is a blessing, since it was getting tricky to check your ride details on an un-optimized email.
Good Text To Image Ratio (Usually)
Most emails from startups seem to have a fairly good amount of HTML text, which is great to see. I put this down to many of these emails being triggered sends that include multiple dynamic elements. It’s still good to see, though, especially when Android devices don’t download images by default.
Getaround is a car sharing startup, and most of its emails are almost all HTML text, yet they still manage to make them look good. As with other startup email trends mentioned above, they have a good amount of white space and a large text line height, making the emails extremely easy to read.
Overall, startups are coming up with some refreshing email designs, which larger companies could really learn a lot from.