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Influence of Colors in Email Marketing: A Complete Guide

Rida Ali Khan

Riddle me this. 

What’s that one email design element that influences your readers' perception, emotions, and behaviors while simultaneously adding beauty and meaning to your email? 

Think about it.  

Well, it’s the color of your email. 

Even though all the elements in an email have their own significance, nothing can match the importance of colors in email marketing. In other words, the colors of your email are the real game-changers. 

Did all this just put you under immense pressure to pick the right color?

Well, shrug it off because we’ve created this ultimate guide that will tell you everything related to colors in email marketing and enable you to choose the right ones in no time. 

Let’s start by discussing how exactly colors influence your reader's and email’s engagement. 

How Do Colors Influence Email Campaigns? 

Marketing is an art of persuasion, and using the right colors for your campaigns will help you master it. 

The colors of your email trigger different emotions among your recipients. And these emotions, such as happiness or excitement, can help boost your email’s engagement rate. 

Colors are also great at representing brands and promoting products more efficiently and effectively. You’ll be surprised to know that colors increase brand recognition by 80%

If wisely used, colors can make your email incredibly attractive and conversion worthy. 

Now that you know how important colors are for your emails let's discuss their psychological impact in a little more detail. 

The Psychology of Colors and the Feelings They Evoke

The way people feel about something is influenced by their past experiences. 

That’s why the same color that can make someone feel optimistic and cheerful might trigger PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) in someone else. 

Below we have mentioned the psychological, geographical, and seasonal significance of each color in general. These descriptions will help you choose the right color for your emails and elicit the desired response from your subscribers.

Red 

Let’s start with the most powerful one - red. 

The color red can be used in different contexts. It is the color of blood, love, and passion. That’s why it is widely used in Valentine’s Day email campaigns. 

Red also represents energy and boosts adrenaline among viewers, which is why many emails and advertisements related to sports and energy drinks have the color red in them. 

In addition to this, it induces urgency and motivates people to respond; therefore, many promotional emails and Call To Action (CTA) buttons are red.

In the sub-continent, red represents marriages. So, if your email talks about marriages related to the Asian culture in any possible way, you should totally use the color red in it. 

A red-colored email template from Unlayer
Get this email template here

Yellow 

Yellow is a very attention-grabbing color and is mostly used in promotional emails that want receivers to respond immediately. Besides that, yellow represents optimism and the summer season.

Plus, it increases appetite too. That's why our beloved food company McDonald’s has used it in its logo for ages. 

However, you should avoid using yellow in emails and marketing campaigns that feature luxurious products as it’s quite loud and bold - qualities that don’t go well with luxury items. 

Yellow-colored email template from Unlayer
Get this email template here

Orange 

The color orange is made by combining yellow and red; hence it possesses the qualities of both of those pretty colors. 

Orange is used instead of red in email designs that want to grab attention instantly but don’t want to appear too loud. It’s the ideal choice of color if you want to encourage impulsive buying. And just like yellow, orange color also elevates the mood and symbolizes optimism. 

In the Eastern culture, orange symbolizes good luck, whereas, in Western cultures, it represents events like Halloween. 

Plus, orange color is globally used to represent the fall season, so you can use it in campaigns that revolve around the fall season. 

Orange-colored email template from Unlayer
Get this email template here

Blue 

Blue is the color of water bodies and the sky; that’s why it represents calmness, serenity, and reliability.  

It’s almost always used in email designs for events like Water Day and Earth Day

Blue also represents trust, credibility, and technology and can be used in emails about customer loyalty, testimonials, or tech-related products.

In terms of cultural relevance, the color blue signifies the monsoon season in the East. So, if your email talks about raincoats, umbrellas, etc., to be used in the monsoon season, then you must opt for the color blue. 

An important thing to remember is that blue curbs appetite, so avoid using it in emails about food and restaurants. 

You didn’t know about that now, did you? 😉

Blue-colored email template from Unlayer
Get this email template here

Green 

Like all colors, green also has different effects and connotations. 

Primarily, green represents nature, growth, and everything related to it. It should be your color of choice if you’re talking about organic or eco-friendly products, Earth Day, or events like St. Patrick's Day.

Since green is the color of grass, many emails featuring sports goods or outdoor events have the color green in them. 

The darker shades of green symbolize money and wealth, whereas yellowish-green represents sickness. So use the various shades wisely. After all, we wouldn’t want to see you using a yellowish-green shade for an email about health and hospitals. 

Green-colored email template from Unlayer
Get this email template here

Black

Black is the color of luxury, prestige, and power. It makes everything look more sophisticated, chic, and classy. 

Previously, the color black was used to represent bad luck, death, and darkness. But now, times have changed, and the marketing world has given it a new meaning. 

Black is now widely used in the email designs of high-end cosmetic and fashion brands. Also, it is always present in emails where brands want to promote or introduce luxurious products such as Apple’s iPhone. 

Black-colored email template from Unlayer
Get this email template here

Purple 

Purple is an artificial color and was previously produced by extracting snail’s mucus to make purple robes for kings and queens. That’s why it was (and is) known as the color of royalty and signifies superiority and luxury.

Purple also represents femininity and is used in email designs for Women’s Day and Mother’s Day. It is also widely used in campaigns featuring anti-aging products. 

Additionally, purple represents mystery, so an email design that revolves around guessing a new product or code almost always uses the color purple. 

Purple-colored email template from Unlayer
Get this email template here

White

According to physics, white is the combination of all the colors. This makes it the origin (read: father) of all other colors.

White represents purity, safety, and new beginnings. It is widely used in campaigns related to the medical sector. But be mindful while using this color in emails as excessive use of white can make your email look dull. 

In Western culture, white color is primarily used for wedding dresses and decorations. Apart from that, it also represents events like Hanukkah and the winter season. 

Most importantly, avoid using white against a light background. The low contrast makes your email harder to read, which might land your email in spam.

White-colored email template from Unlayer
Get this email template here

Pantone color of the year 

Every year, a color is selected by the prestigious Pantone Color Institute to reflect and express what’s happening across the globe.  

And this year (2022), the nominated color is Very Peri. This color represents the innovation and transformation we are witnessing globally, every day. It also signifies a carefree attitude, creative spirit, and endless possibilities. 

A beautiful email template from Unlayer in the Pantone color of the year (Very Peri)
Get this email template here

7 Innovative Ways to Use Colors in Your Emails

Now that you’re fully aware of what each color in the spectrum represents and how they trigger different emotions, let’s talk about the seven creative ways you can use them in your emails. 

1. Use colors to highlight important content

Colors are a pretty effective way to convey important messages to your audience. Use colors in your email copy to highlight the main content and words. 

For instance, if your email introduces a new mascara, you can highlight words like clump-free or long-lasting in a different color font. 

To display your message better, you can use the white font color if your email has a black or dark-colored background, and vice versa. This way, your subscribers can easily skim through the important details of your emails. 

2. Use colors to segment different sections 

Another use case is to divide different sections of your emails with colors. 

By doing so, you enable your readers to separate between unique segments of your email easily. This idea will work especially well for email newsletters. 

Here’s an email from Google Store that uses colors to separate different sections that might inspire you. 

Email from Google Store that uses color to separate different sections

3. Use a consistent color scheme from top to bottom

How about going all-in with a color scheme?

Choose a particular color and use it in your images, email’s background, and fonts. This way, your email will appear more cohesive, consistent, and undoubtedly attractive. 

4. Use colors in the alt text

Some email recipients have their image viewing option turned off, or their images do not load because they are too large. 

In such cases, your alt text will appear instead of your images. So, how about beautifying your alt text with color? 

You can use a light-colored alt text if your email’s background is dark and vice versa. Try selecting a color for your alt text that complements the background of your email. 

5. Experiment with colors in links 

Almost every other email has its links in blue, so this is your chance to stand out.  

Use variable colors for your links and make your email stand out. Just make sure the links pop out against the background of your email.

A great example is this email from Headspace that uses orange-colored links to complement its email design. 

An email from Headspace with colorful links

6. Make your CTA stand out 

The CTA button of your email deserves all the attention in this world. After all, that one button is what leads to conversions. 

So try to use eye-catching colors for your CTAs, such as red, orange, or green. These are just suggestions, though - there’s no hard and fast rule about what color to use. 

7. Use background colors that complement the email

You can also use background colors in your emails that complement different design elements. 

It’s a great way to make your emails eye-catching. And unlike images, coding HTML backgrounds will make your email background look amazing across all email clients. 

4 Different Color Schemes to Use in Your Emails

Four different color schemes that you can use in your emails

The endless possible ways we can play around with colors leave us awestruck.

If we start writing each possible way, we might need to write a book rather than an article. So we shortlisted four main color schemes that you can use in your email to make it stand out in your recipient's inbox. 

1. Go for complementary colors

Complementary colors are two colors that are opposite of each other in the color wheel. Mostly, they consist of a primary color and a secondary color. 

The basic complementary colors are yellow and purple, blue and orange, and red and green. You can use a variety of these according to your campaign idea or target audience.

Just use them wisely to highlight important elements of your emails, such as CTAs, links, and email headers

2. Add monochromatic shades 

The monochromatic color scheme consists of variations of a single color. They’re perfect for campaign-centric emails where the design must revolve around a single color representing that event. 

For example, various shades of green for Earth Day emails. 

In case you’re looking for inspiration, Pinterest is the hub for finding amazing monochromatic-themed images and palettes for you to have a better idea. 

3. Go for a triadic color palette

As fancy as the name sounds, triadic colors are simply three equally spaced colors in the color wheel. 

If you’re puzzled about which triadic color to go for, tools like Color Hunt and Adobe Color are available to save you. 

4. Opt for naturally occurring color combinations

Take inspiration from mother nature. 

Look around you, and you’ll notice that a bunch of color combinations already exist in nature, such as those found in fruits (watermelon, peach, etc.) or analogous colors found in the sky or plants. 

These colors are subconsciously imprinted in our minds and give a warm and pleasant feeling. Try to use these colors to create a positive impression on your email recipients.

6 Best Practices for Using Colors in Emails

Best practices for using colors in emails

Got enough ideas on how to play around with colors in your emails? Great! 

Ensure that you incorporate the best practices below while adding colors to your emails, so you can pull off the coolest email campaign ever. 

1. Choose colors according to your campaign

The first step to choosing the right colors for your email is understanding why you’re selecting them. 

Think about your campaign, and then select colors and email design elements to represent that campaign. For instance, an email that promotes Black Friday sales must have black color in it, or an email sent on Christmas must have elements that represent Christmas and so on.   

2. Know your audience  

Keep your target audience in mind while choosing your email’s color. This means you should keep your subscriber’s culture, age, and gender in mind. 

For instance, if your email targets teenagers, then you can go for peppy colors, and if your email targets a more serious audience, then you can select an email template with minimalist colors. 

You must also ensure your email’s accessibility through colors since there are more than 350 million colorblind people worldwide, and this number increases every year. 

3. Don’t add too many colors

Colors are beautiful, but over-using them will just make your email look unpleasant. 

Don’t add more than three colors in your emails unless your design calls for it. Choose one color for the background, one for the foreground, and one for highlighting; that’s it. 

4. Avoid colors that trigger spam 

An email with a red or green font has a high chance of landing in the spam folder. Similarly, white text written over an image or light-colored background can also land your email in spam. 

So try avoiding these practices to ensure that your email lands directly in your recipient's inbox and your hard work doesn’t go to waste. 

5. Choose colors that represent your brand

Color enhances brand recognition. Think of famous companies like Yahoo or Coke. The minute you hear about them, the colors purple and red instantly come to mind, as they are so deeply associated with the respective brands.

So, if you want your email recipients to recognize your emails just by looking at them, you must use a specific color palette that goes with your brand. 

6. Test your emails 

Never forget to test!

Keep testing your emails across all email clients and with different colors to ensure success. Try sending variations of the same email but using separate color palettes. This is a great way to figure out which colors better engage your audience.

Wrapping Up 

Do you feel like Picasso’s long-lost cousin after knowing all this information about colors? Cool, that’s exactly what we were aiming for. 

Now that you know the significance and influence of colors in email marketing try to use them wisely. Just pick the right color for the right people at the right time (event), and you’re golden. 

But before you go, we’d like to say that we wholeheartedly welcome the exchange of knowledge. So if you have to add anything else related to colors in general or colors in email marketing, feel free to comment below. 

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