Curious about the lifestyle emails of the rich and famous? Today we’re assessing celebrity email newsletters, including ones from Gwyneth Paltrow, Lena Dunham, and even, yes, Oprah. Though you might consider some emails as “glorified shopping portals,” there’s still plenty to learn when it comes to design dos and don’ts.
Goop (Gwyneth Paltrow)
One of the first celebrity brands was started by actress Gwyneth Paltrow in 2008. Called “Goop,” Paltrow started sending a weekly series of celebrity email newsletters to serve as “a place to organize her unbiased travel recommendations, health-centric recipes, and shopping discoveries for friends.” Eight years later, the newsletter has expanded significantly to include a shop section, a skin care line, and tons more content about maintaining a holistic, natural, yet glamorous life. Check out a partial view of a recent newsletter:
Design Dos: Goop uses a hybrid layout, shifting from one column to two. The one-column setup at the top focuses the readers’ attention on the two most important calls to action: shop the collection and read the feature story. High-res photography is prominent in the email, though the brand also incorporates plain text (the web-safe font Arial)—along with a bulletproof “Read More” CTA button—to improve its image-to-text ratio and avoid spam filters. The Container Store advertisement in the middle of the email almost isn’t noticeable at first glance because the content fits with the topics of the email and, presumably, the interests of its readers.
Design Don’ts: Despite being well-organized and mobile optimized, Goop newsletters are usually pretty long! And Gmail can “cut” extra-long newsletters, though there are ways to prevent emails from getting clipped. Also, while it’s great to highlight a robust amount of content, there’s a lot going on in each newsletter, which can overwhelm readers. Short(er) newsletters that spotlight just a few focused and curated items may be best…but, as long as readers are willing to keep scrolling, long newsletters may not be so bad after all.
TYRA Beauty (Tyra Banks)
Get ready to “smize.” TYRA Beauty is a “cosmetics experience” business started by former Top Model host Tyra Banks. To prepare for the debut of her self-funded startup, Banks even attended a three-year Harvard Business School program. The company’s own celebrity email newsletters, called Tyra Mail, are a great reflection of the brand’s energy, which is obvious in the welcome message:
Design Dos: The introduction letter from Tyra reels readers in with a compelling message. It’s personal and engaging, and the e-signature enforces that intimacy with the reader. And like most emails in the beauty and fashion industries, the message is full of bold, bright, and beautiful product photos. While the visual elements certainly make the email attractive and highly clickable, readers with image-viewing turned off will miss out.
Design Don’ts: TYRA Mail could work on incorporating bold HTML background colors and sections of plain text for headers and descriptions. The header navigation is simple and elegant, but it could also be recreated easily with bulletproof CTA buttons. The addition of more plain text and colors can also help break up all the imagery.
Draper James (Reese Witherspoon)
Reese Witherspoon channeled Elle Woods’ love for clothes by promoting her own clothing line, named Draper James after her grandparents, Dorothea Draper and William James. The line draws inspiration from Witherspoon’s own Southern roots to create colorful, easy-breezy everyday wear. To show that Witherspoon doesn’t take herself too seriously, her daily celebrity email newsletters draw upon the light blue brand color and often use illustrations. This recent message even incorporated a playful animated GIF of a mason jar with lemonade, to add some fun motion:
Design Dos: Background colors really make this email pop, and selecting only a few colors (pink, shades of blue, white) allows them to work well together without being too overwhelming. Also, like Tyra’s message, we love the simple navigation menu and the personalized sign-off!
Design Don’ts: The email’s entire middle section of the email is an image, which is a problem for readers with image viewing turned off. Isolating the animated GIF (which will make it quicker to download on mobile) and using email-safe text for headers on top of the bold background color can go a long way. Using a matching HTML background color alongside photos or illustrations would allow designers to create the illusion of a single image while optimizing the message for all inboxes.
Lenny Letter (Lena Dunham)
Amidst all the lifestyle, beauty, and fashion tips, the Lenny Letter, created by actor/director Lena Dunham and her best friend/director Jenni Konner, is a different type of send in a sea of celebrity email newsletters. Lenny focuses primarily on long-form content, like thoughtful letters and thought-provoking essays, and provides that content within the email itself, instead of sending readers to the Lenny website. Each email features five stories per week. Here’s a recent one (which we also trimmed):
Design Dos: Each email begins with a note from an editor (usually Lena or Jenni) introducing the week’s five featured stories. Since the emails are so text-heavy, a number of design tactics improve navigation and legibility. The navigation menu at the top takes readers to anchor links for each story, making it easy to skip ahead to a story without having to scroll too much. The text is also constrained to 640px wide, so it’s easy for readers to keep their place in the text. Plus, the web-safe Arial font is easy to read. The streamlined design approach is effective at allowing the focus to fall on the content itself.
Design Don’ts: Design-wise, this email looks great! But it’s worth noting that, similar to Goop, long emails can still get clipped by Gmail. So long email senders, like Lenny, should adhere to best practices to prevent clipping.
The Honest Company (Jessica Alba)
When Jessica Alba founded The Honest Company in 2011, she had one goal: to provide safe products for your family and home. “I created The Honest Company to help moms and to give all children a better, safer start,” Alba writes. As part of the brand, the company sends daily emails that direct readers to its blog (as well as some promotional product messages), like this one:
Design Dos: The single-column modular design is a great content organizer. The email flows well and is easy to skim. Positioning the header, descriptive text, and CTA buttons outside of the image also ensure that the bulk of the message will appear even if images are blocked. And, the inverted pyramid design for each module is an email design best practice to improve organization and readability. The playful text overlay on some images is a nice touch!
Design Don’ts: The Honest Company can create more compelling calls to action. A CTA button that reads “Learn more” doesn’t really get readers excited to click. “Get the gummy goods” might be more playful and fun. CTAs that include personal pronouns (get my discount, reserve my seat), active verbs, and just a few words are usually the most effective.
Oprah’s Book Club (Oprah)
Oprah has over a dozen newsletters, each covering separate topics from money to relationships to food and more. For this post, we focused on the newsletter for her popular book club, which announces her latest reading selection along with other content that would interest readers. Here’s her latest:
Design Dos: Using a neutral beige background color makes the white content blocks pop in this email, and including email-safe font makes the text display reliably and easy to read.
Design Don’ts: Readers have short attention spans, so brief, easy-to-scan emails are more effective. But the Oprah Book Club email feels too much like a cluttered website, with multiple columns, font sizes, and colors. There’s also a distracting “Hot Topics” bar at the top and a jam-packed footer at the bottom. The spacing between elements is also inconsistent. Switching to a single-column design, simplifying the header, and incorporating bulletproof CTA buttons can improve readability and mobile-friendliness, Read more tips in our tutorial: How to avoid making your email look like a website.
The Tig (Meghan Markle)
Suits actress Meghan Markle launched The Tig as “a hub for the discerning palate,” a place to explore topics like travel, food, fashion, and beauty. The site includes city guides, trend posts, and recipes, and its weekly newsletter points readers’ attention to the latest content:
Design Dos: The white-and-gray color scheme of the site is reflected well in the brand’s simple newsletters. Plus, the splash of color in the links is a nice way to reinforce the brand and add a subtle customization.
Design Don’ts: Even though a photo grid is included in each message as a single image, but the brand could try creating a responsive photo gallery to better suit mobile screens. Even though the email is short and sweet, it could be even more skim-friendly with shorter headlines that immediately catch readers’ eyes.
Hello Giggles (Zooey Deschanel)
Co-founded by New Girl‘s Zooey Deschanel in 2011, Hello Giggles was developed as a positive community for women. When compared to other celebrity email newsletters, this particular daily newsletter provides a playful mix of motivational and inspirational stories and quotes:
Design Dos: Hello Giggles really strives to use brand colors to organize and unify its message. The all-caps headers in red guide readers’ eyes through the email and the turquoise content separators also organize the content. The structure of the message feels cohesive and balanced. Starting each email with a quote box is also a great way to warm up readers and get them interested in the content.
Design Don’ts: Although the use of a two-column layout keeps the newsletter well-organized, there’s no intuitive reading order because the content is divided vertically into different sections. Some readers might skip content, especially in the more narrow right column. A single-column layout might be more effective and make it easier for readers to digest information all in ordered sequence.