The Importance and Impact of Colors in Email Marketing

The Importance & Impact of Colors in Email Marketing

Colors play an important role in every aspect of our lives. They act as a silent yet powerful tool for influencing our perceptions and triggering emotions that can impact all sorts of decisions. In marketing, colors are a proven tool for influencing purchasing decisions and triggering actions – clicks on buttons, replies, purchases, and others. The use of colors is also strongly related to brand expression, e.g. communicating what your brand stands for and how it wants to be perceived by its customers and fans.

In email marketing specifically, colors play an important role too – at least as much, if not more than in other marketing channels. They are mood-setters, creating unconscious bias in favor or against a message, and are proven to influence the engagement rates with your emails. Let’s take a closer look at the importance of colors in marketing emails and how to use them to guide your recipients to take action!

Importance of colors in email marketing emails

In email marketing, alongside all web and on-site marketing efforts, colors have a psychological power that goes beyond practical applications, quietly shaping your subscribers’ mood and perception of your message. Here are key reasons why the choice of email color really matters:

  • Helps Reinforce Brand Recognition

Colors help in establishing and reinforcing brand identity. Consistent use of specific color palettes makes a brand more recognizable and memorable to consumers. A study from the Pantone Color Institute shows that colors increase brand recognition by 87%! That is why best marketing practices advise using your brand colors consistently across all your marketing communications, and emails are no exception.  A great starting point for choosing consistent colors in your emails is to use the ones from your logo or ones that complement them. Apply these colors to the header, footer, and body of your emails to create a professional look that reinforces your brand identity.

  • Impacts Readability & Accessibility of your emails

The right email color combinations can improve the readability of your marketing emails, making it easier for consumers to digest the information. Always remember that there are 1.3 billion visually impaired people, according to the WHO, many of whom are challenged to consume low contrast color combinations. This means that if you do not consider serving these people with the adequate use of colors in your emails, you are missing out on a significant percentage of your audience. We’ll talk about accessibility standards later in this article.

  • Creates Response Triggers – Attracts Attention & Encourages Actions

Because different colors evoke different emotions, marketers and business owners use email colors to influence how consumers feel about a product or brand and how they respond to it. Part of this color potential lies in past associations, established throughout the years by various institutions and accepted conventions. 

For example, over the years green has often represented eco-friendliness and has been used by many brands producing organic, natural products. So if you wish to talk about corporate responsibility and sustainability, you would include the green color in your messages by association.

At the same time, it is known that bright and contrasting colors can make your marketing emails stand out, grab attention, and make a strong visual impact. Or, that the red color in ‘Buy Now’ buttons creates a sense of urgency and excitement and tends to trigger higher click rates under similar circumstances. 

We’ll first deep-dive into the psychology behind each color to see what emotions and associations it comes with and then talk about how to best use these colors in emails.

The Psychology of Colors in Email Marketing

Color psychology can be a game changer in email marketing since each color has a unique effect on people’s emotions and can lead them to take different actions. By picking the right email colors, you can trigger emotions that resonate with your audience, driving engagement and encouraging the desired response to your message. 

🔴 Red

Red is often associated with strong emotions and stands out vividly in branding. It’s a color that commands attention and is meant to be noticed. When used in email marketing, red doesn’t just blend in, it demands to be seen and becomes a focus point. It corresponds with things that are vibrant and energetic, such as love, danger, fire, and strength. It’s a color that shouts ‘look at me’ and adds a sense of enthusiasm and boldness to anything it’s applied to. 

The color red is frequently used for call-to-action (CTA) buttons, special promotions, and festive content like Christmas campaigns because of its exceptional ability to capture attention and prompt action. However, when selecting a shade of red for events such as Black Friday or Christmas specials, it’s crucial to ensure that it harmonizes with your brand’s established color palette. To seamlessly integrate seasonal hues with your brand colors, consider utilizing a color scheme generator tool. This can help you find the perfect complementary shade to enhance your occasional email campaigns effectively.

🟡 Yellow

Yellow reminds us of sunny days, happy faces, and bright flowers. It’s a loud email color but it’s also full of joy. Yellow is super easy to spot from far away, especially contrasted with darker colors. Employing yellow can bring a sense of enthusiasm and optimism to your emails, making it ideal for highlighting key messages. It’s a color that can make your content feel more inviting, creating positive emotions and a happy mood for your subscribers. And we all know that happy people tend to be more generous and take action more easily.

🔵 Blue

In email marketing, blue is flexible – it can bring calmness, but it can also communicate strength and trustworthiness. Darker blues are associated with trustworthiness and dependability, making them a favorite for businesses aiming to project an image of strong expertise. They also represent strength and authority, which are qualities that people look for in professional and high-end brands. Blue is also a color that can mean confidence, professionalism, power and knowledge. 

🟢 Green

As an email color, green carries a dual significance that can be used to resonate with different target audiences. Its roots in nature and the environment give it a sense of health, calmness, and sustainability, making it an excellent choice for brands that prioritize eco-friendly principles. On the other hand, green’s association with wealth and finances – think the color of money, especially in the US it speaks of growth, prosperity, and stability. The particular shade of green used can influence perception – brighter greens might highlight growth and vitality, while darker tones could emphasize wealth and security. By selecting the right tone, you can tailor your email message to evoke the desired action, whether it’s to inspire a sense of well-being or to convey financial expertise.

⚫ Black

Black holds a unique position in email marketing because it’s naturally strong and sophisticated and has the power to make any email layout look elegant and modern. It allows pairing with pretty much any other color and when paired with the right accent color, it creates a striking contrast that can outshine any other palette, drawing the reader’s attention with its boldness. 

Black is also very versatile – it’s a color that can simultaneously act as a neutral background and a bold statement. Black can give emails a clean, progressive look, but it is also a safe and conservative choice when you are not sure what colors to select for your emails.

🟣 Purple

Purple’s unique blend of warm and cool tones makes it a great choice in your email color palette. Even though purple looks a lot like the soothing color blue, it usually makes people feel something different. Instead of peace, it often makes them feel curious. Purple is often used by tech and forward-thinking companies to show that they are innovative and ambitious because it has an air of wonder and sophistication. Purple also has connotations of healing and femininity, which gives it a caring quality. When used in marketing emails, purple can make people feel connected and strong, giving them the idea that the brand is both mysterious and forward-thinking.

⚪ White

In email marketing, white gives off an air of purity and simplicity. It adds a clean, delicate touch that, when used properly, can make something look elegant. Its minimalistic nature can open up a design by giving your email content room to breathe and balance. When used incorrectly, on the other hand, it can be cold or even harsh. Because white is so versatile and can either support a design or tell a story on its own, it’s hard to find a brand that doesn’t use some shade of it in its style. White is often associated with peace and tranquility, and in the right context, it can create a sense of calm and focus, drawing the reader’s attention to the core message without distractions.

🟠 Orange

When used as an email color, orange gives the energy and brightness of red but a softer edge that makes it less intense and easier to get along with. Because of this, brands that want to look fun and new, appealing to younger people with a creative and eager spirit, love it. It’s a warm color that can get people interested, but it also has a natural, laid-back feel, especially in its softer shades. Brighter oranges can signal caution, but when toned down they can give off a calm, joyful vibe. When used in marketing emails, orange can give off an air of fun and adventure, indicating a brand that is both active and creative.

🟤 Brown

In email marketing, brown stands for trust and strength. It gives off a natural and down-to-earth vibe that can make people feel secure and supported. This color makes the reader think of reliability and a strong base, and it’s often linked to natural materials and organic goods. You can use brown to show that you are reliable and strong, whether it’s in the background or as an accent.

🩷 Pink

Pink’s use in email marketing has changed a lot from its traditional association with femininity. As an email color, it used to be mostly used to connect with female readers. Today, people have different perceptions of pink. It now has a new meaning that includes being playful and brave, and it’s often seen as a sign of revolt and a challenge to the status quo. Now, this color is appealing to a wider range of people, giving ads a youthful and happy vibe. The soft blush of a soft pink or the bright punch of a hot pink can show a lot of different emotions. It can show innocent charm or bold confidence. Depending on the shade and the situation, pink email color can be used in marketing emails to show love and kindness or to make a creative and eye-catching point.

Best Practices for Using Colors in Email Marketing

Incorporating color effectively in your email marketing isn’t just about making things look pretty – it’s a strategic move that can pay off in reader engagement and campaign performance. Let’s dive into some best practices that can help you harness the full potential of your email colors:

1. Aligning email colors with your brand identity

When going into email marketing, it’s essential to select your email colors based on your existing brand palette (if you have such already). Consider the primary colors used in your logo, website, and existing marketing materials. These colors are most likely part of an established palette that should be used in your email marketing campaigns in order to make your email a natural extension of your brand’s visual identity. Assuming your website has two primary colors – mustard yellow and navy blue, use those colors in your marketing emails so that your recipients can quickly recognize your brand. 

It’s important to know that it is acceptable to change your email colors for a particular event, such as using red around Christmas, but keep in mind that the essential colors of your brand should always be present. Maintaining consistency in your brand colors strengthens awareness and delivers a consistent experience for your subscribers throughout your email marketing campaigns.

2. Prioritize accessibility and readability

Ensuring color accessibility is crucial for making your emails readable and understandable for all subscribers, including those with disabilities. Email accessibility is the practice of ensuring that your emails can be read and understood even by subscribers who have some visual impairment. 

A fundamental principle in email design accessibility is to use font colors that contrast with the background, similar to the clarity of black text on a white canvas. Avoid using too bright colors, as they might be irritating to the eye. 

It is important to know that not all contrasts are created equal – combinations such as green and red may provide difficulties for people who are colorblind. In cases like this, we recommend using a color contrast checker tool to ensure that the color shades you’ve picked are appropriate. 

According to the guidelines set by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), a minimum contrast ratio of 4.5:1 is recommended for standard-sized text, while larger or bold text should have a ratio of at least 3:1. While striving for effective contrast, simplicity is key. Opting for a single text color with a contrasting background can make your message accessible and readable to those with color vision deficiencies.

A thoughtful color scheme can make the difference between an email that is easily digested and one that is quickly ignored. High-contrast email colors ensure that text stands out against the background, significantly improving readability.

3. Avoid using too many colors

Introducing too many colors into your email design can result in a cluttered and overwhelming visual experience for the recipient, detracting from the message you want them to engage with. To avoid this, it’s advisable to select a primary color that is closely associated with your brand identity. This primary email color should serve as the dominant hue within your emails, ensuring immediate brand recognition. Complement this with one or two secondary colors that harmonize with your primary color. These additional colors can be used strategically to accentuate important elements such as calls to action buttons, links, or key information, thereby guiding your subscribers’ attention to the most important parts of your message. The goal is to create a balanced and aesthetically pleasing color scheme that enhances readability and engagement without overwhelming the senses.

4. Make your Call-to-Actions stand out

The call-to-action is the most important part of your email. Choose a contrasting color that stands out against the rest of the email colors, prompting recipients to click.

By sticking to these color principles, you can craft emails that not only captivate your audience visually but also guide them smoothly towards the actions you desire. Email colors are more than visual features – they’re a communication tool that, when used wisely, can significantly enhance the effectiveness of your email marketing efforts.

5. Blend with the mood of the Holidays & other special occasions

As you develop your email marketing strategy, it’s common to plan for a variety of special occasions like Black Friday, Christmas, Halloween, and others. For each of these events, you may want to choose a unique color combination that aligns with the Holiday’s vibe.

🎄 Christmas

Christmas is strong on associations. During Christmas and New Year season, you will see traditional reds and greens everywhere. You may consider adding them to your email messages during this period.

🛍️ Black Friday

The use of Black is typical for Black Friday, usually combined with red, but also yellow and orange, and other powerful, strong accent colors. The aim is to create a sense of urgency, highlight exclusive deals, and provoke action.

🏖️ Summer Sale

During the summer, bright yellows, blue and turquoise, oranges, and vibrant greens are commonly used in marketing since they create associations with beaches, deep blue waters, and sunny skies, invoking energy, vibrancy, and playfulness.

💖 Valentine’s Day

Consider the use of pink and red to blend with the prevalent holiday feelings of love, passion, and warmth.

When selecting email colors for special occasions, don’t forget that you have a lot of flexibility and you should not feel constrained by one shade of red or green or else. It is still important to stay true to your brand’s core colors, including them in your color scheme to maintain brand identity. 

When in doubt, or you feel overwhelmed, using a color scheme generator can help you harmoniously blend colors. In the broader context of design, there are established principles of color combinations that are equally applicable to email marketing and you could safely rely on those for assistance, when in need.

6. Create Visual Balance

Achieving a visually balanced layout is key to designing emails that are both aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate. To create this balance, play with color placement throughout your layout. For instance, if you’ve chosen blue for your email’s header, mirror this by using the same shade of blue in the footer. This creates a sense of unity and frames your content neatly. Similarly, if there’s a vibrant orange call-to-action button situated on the right, consider placing an orange icon or highlight on the left to maintain visual balance. 

The objective here is to guide the reader’s eye through the email in a way that feels natural and intuitive, encouraging them to engage with the content without feeling overwhelmed or lost. A well-balanced email design not only looks professional but also enhances the overall user experience, making it more likely that subscribers will take the desired action.

How to Select Color Combinations For Your Marketing Emails?

All this color science and best practices can be overwhelming to people who are just starting out with email marketing. Let’s get a few more tips on how more effectively to select and pair colors for your emails, following scientific principles.

1. Complementary colors 

Complementary email colors sit directly across from each other on the color wheel, typically pairing a primary color with a secondary color. Classic combinations include:

  • yellow with purple
  • blue with orange
  • red with green

These combinations can be adapted to the right hue and shade to suit the theme of your email marketing campaigns. Use these complementary email colors thoughtfully to draw attention to key parts of your emails, like call-to-action buttons, links, or the headings of your emails.

2. Monochromatic

A monochrome palette is a color combination based on a single color or hue. It simply uses various shades and tints of that one color to create a visually appealing email look. Shades are created by adding black to the hue, making it darker, while tints are made by adding white, making it lighter. This approach to color coordination is often used for its simplicity and aesthetic appeal, creating a harmonious and balanced visual experience.

3. Triadic

A triadic color scheme is a color combination of three that are evenly spaced on the color wheel, creating a vibrant yet balanced palette. This trio often includes colors that contrast and complement each other, for instance, a blend of red-violet, yellow-orange, and blue-green. 

Typically, a triadic palette will mix two shades of either a warm or cool temperament with one from the opposite spectrum, achieving visual balance. The beauty of triadic email colors lies in their collective strength – the supporting colors enhance the primary hue, amplifying the overall impact and message. To capture attention and encourage interaction in your design, use the primary triadic color on essential elements such as call-to-action CTA buttons.

4. Analogous

An analogous color scheme is a harmonious blend of three colors positioned side by side on the color wheel, such as the trio of orange, violet, and purple, crafting a visually soothing array. Depending on the hues used, this trio adds delicate or essential depth to the dominant color in your template. Perfect for capturing the essence of the seasons or natural events, analogous colors can enhance the thematic consistency of your email designs. For instance, a gradation from red to red-orange to yellow can evoke a fall vibe when used thoughtfully throughout your email layout.

Email Marketing Tool to Create High-impact Campaigns with the use of Color

Now that you understand the science and psychology behind colors, it’s time to consider putting the things you’ve learned into action. The best email marketing tool that gives you complete creative freedom while also supporting you with ready solutions is SiteGround Email Marketing.

Whether you want to integrate your existing color palette or experiment with different hues for specific occasions, our intuitive interface makes it easy. Adjust colors in real-time and transform the look of your email background, sections, and call-to-action buttons right before your eyes. Thanks to its intuitive design, our platform lets you easily change and test various color schemes throughout your marketing email. This level of flexibility ensures your email aesthetics can easily match your brand and engage your audience.

More than just aesthetics, the SiteGround Email Marketing tool is committed to accessibility, ensuring your emails are also easy to read and interact with. If you accidentally choose a color combination with low contrast, our tool will alert you, helping you avoid any issues that could harm your email’s usability.

So why settle for ordinary emails when you can create extraordinary ones? With SiteGround Email Marketing, you have the freedom to explore, the guidance to succeed, and the confidence to hit send.

Enhancing Email Campaigns Through Colors

The use of color in your email marketing campaigns is not just about aesthetics, it’s about impact. The right colors can enhance readability, evoke emotions, create brand associations, and guide your subscribers to take action. Whether you’re aiming for a sense of urgency with a bold red, or building trust with a deep blue, the colors you choose have the power to make a significant impact on your campaign’s success.

Each color you select carries weight and meaning, influencing how your message is received. A thoughtfully selected color scheme does more than represent your brand – it evokes emotions in your audience, transforming a simple email into an engaging experience that has the power to captivate and drive conversions.

By harnessing the persuasive power of color, you can highlight key offers, accentuate calls to action, and subtly nudge your subscribers towards making a purchase. Every email color in your emails is an opportunity to influence perception and behavior, turning casual readers into loyal customers.

Ready to influence your subscribers with email colors? Embrace the spectrum of possibilities with the SiteGround Email Marketing Tool and craft colorful, effective marketing emails that stand out.

Svetoslava Ivanova

Digital Marketer

Enthusiastic about adopting new ways of storytelling Gen Z-er who lives and breathes digital marketing.

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