Email footer design is often an afterthought for brands. But don’t overlook this component of your email — it’s a critical piece to your overall email design.
Footers contain important information and get plenty of action. The email footer is often where your subscribers look for details about your brand. They also use the footer to learn how to contact you and to manage their subscription preferences. Your email footer is a place for transparency, clarity and good design, all of which can say a lot about you and your brand.
Let’s review some email footer best practices that can take your footer — and the rest of your email — to the next level.Your email footer is a place for transparency, clarity and good design, all of which can say a lot about you and your brand. Click To Tweet
What to include in your email footer
Most email service providers require you to include certain information in your footer, such as a physical address for your business and a link to unsubscribe to comply with anti-spam laws. Beyond these basic components, however, there’s much more information you can include in an email footer. Here are some common footer elements:
An easy way to unsubscribe
While no one wants to lose subscribers, it’s paramount to include a clear, easy-to-find link to opt out. It’s good business and prevents spam complaints. If you’ve ever decided to unsubscribe from a brand’s emails but couldn’t find the link to do it, you understand the frustration. Build transparency and trust with readers by giving them a simple way to opt out if they choose to. A visible link is also required by email unsubscribe laws.
Don’t forget to add your contact information in your email footer design. This could include:
- A link back to your site. Try adding a linked logo or including specific pages (your blog, services page, etc.). This gives readers a way to get more information in a single tap.
- Your mailing address. We live in a digital age, but it’s nice to know where in the world messages are coming from.
- Contact email address. This information is a way for readers to reply to the message or get in touch with questions or concerns.
If you’re sending commercial emails (i.e. messages that sell or promote a product or a service), these pieces of information are typically required by anti-spam laws such as the CAN-SPAM Act of the USA, Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) and others.
Social media buttons
As secondary calls to action, social media buttons often find a home in the footer, where they aren’t a distraction from the body of your message and your main CTA. Include the platforms that are most important to your brand. Skincare company Elle Johnson Co. chose to put Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest buttons in its email footer.
You may want to include some other links in your email footer design, too:
- Forward to a friend. Sometimes your beautifully-designed email doesn’t render correctly when forwarded, so many brands include a “Forward” link at the email’s close. On the marketing end, this can encourage readers to forward and help you track how many of them do.
- Update your profile. If your email service provider offers a preference center where subscribers can update their profile and change things like messaging frequency, the footer is the perfect place to add a link to it.
- Sign up. If your message does get forwarded, it’s useful to provide a direct way for those new recipients to subscribe.
While this isn’t the most exciting element of your email footer design, it’s one of the most important. Here’s what you need:
- Why you’re receiving this email. Many readers are subscribed to dozens and dozens of mailing lists. A permission reminder is a nice way to tell them exactly why they’re receiving this message. It’s also an email deliverability best practice because it further reduces spam complaints and helps you maintain a high sender reputation. Here, Health-Ade Kombucha explains that you’re receiving this email because you opted in via their website or an event.
- Copyright. This doesn’t have to stand out boldly, but it’s a good email footer best practice to include the copyright mark (©), the year and the copyright owner (your business name).
- Details or restrictions on an offer. Retailers often need to include fine print about the discounts or deals presented in an email, and the footer ends up being the place where these details are added.
How to design a great email footer
Once you’ve decided what to include in your footer, it’s time to start designing. These email footer examples and tips can help.
Make it simple
Footers can quickly become overly crowded with buttons, icons, links and fine print. Before stuffing your footer with information, evaluate what makes the most sense to include and then try to stick to the bare minimum. Overwhelming readers with too much information can lead them to skip over the footer altogether, not knowing where to begin. An email design best practice is to keep your message focused. Likewise, the simpler the footer, the more useful it will be to readers.
Here’s an example from BANGS Shoes:
The clutter-free design makes the footer easy to scan. Readers can zero in on what they’re looking for quickly since the footer doesn’t include too many elements or an overload of information. And since most of the footer is plain text, it will always render correctly.
Create a hierarchy
After you’ve established a basic list of what needs to be included in your footer, organize the information in a hierarchy based on the actions you most want readers to take and the information they’re most likely to be seeking. Here’s an email footer example from WeTransfer that provides subscribers with direction and clarity:
First, the company clearly explains what they do for any new subscribers (or old ones who could use a refresh). Next you’re directed to social media, and finally WeTransfer gets down to the fine print, keeping this part to a minimum. This simple black-and-white email footer includes what they really want readers to know at the top and then adds less essential information at the bottom.
Formatting your footer into sections, with headers and labels to clearly organize content, is a great approach to improving readability. In this example from Seletti, the footer content is separated into groups with website links first, social media next and then other contact information (such as the company’s address and phone number). The unsubscribe link is found at the very bottom.
The color scheme is slick and easy to read, with a couple of emojis that grab your attention. This is a great example of how smart email footer design can make a lot of content easier to scan.
Use HTML background colors
Footers are often distinguished from the body of an email with a substantially different HTML background color. Using a background color is one of the quickest and most effective ways to let readers know where one email section ends and the next begins. Here’s an email footer example from Eye on Design’s email newsletter:
The body of the email is white, so the coral-colored background pops, signaling to readers that these details are separate.
Because footer information is typically small, it’s important to think about color and contrast between text and background to enhance legibility. Using colors with high contrast makes reading the smaller text a breeze.
Take up space
There’s no rule of thumb for how big or small your footer should be. As you design your email, you’ll want to be cognizant of the content size and length to avoid having your message get clipped. But if there’s room for it, your footer can expand to be a bigger part of your email. Here’s an example from AirBNB that uses the email footer to reinforce branding:
The significant padding between each section of the footer allows readers to take in each section of information one at a time — no crowding or clutter here. It’s a cute, clever way to conclude an email without being overbearing.
Keeping the footer light on text and big on blank space also helps create a sense of levity and scannability. Compare AirBNB’s email with this footer from TIME, which compresses information to the point of making it uninviting and hard to read:
When it comes to email footer best practices, keeping yours easy to scan is essential.
Include a signoff
Your email footer is a place to have fun, too! Some brands include a sign-off that inspires readers or adds a sense of playfulness to the message. General Assembly closes their emails with a quote:
With its monochromatic color scheme, two social buttons and high-contrasting HTML background, the footer is elegant and to-the-point.
Clothing brand Huckberry also includes an inspirational quote in their oversized footer, which seems to combine the design elements of the General Assembly and AirBNB footers:
It’s a smart relationship-building technique to include a non-marketing-related sign-off that reinforces your company values.
Wrap-up: Best practices for email footer design
- Collect the information you’re required to include in your email footer, then carefully evaluate additional items.
- Think about what you want readers to do to help create a short list of what you’ll include.
- Err on the side of too little information rather than too much.
- Arrange your footer information in a hierarchy, starting with the most important information or call-to-action.
- Organize your email footer design. Use headers and colors to create sections, incorporate CTA buttons and allow plenty of space around each cluster of information.
- Separate the footer from the body of your email with a background color. Use contrasting colors to improve legibility.
- If you can afford it, take up space. Allow the information to breathe and increase padding.
- Include a thoughtful sign-off. Make a statement about your brand or your company values and strengthen your relationship with readers.
Put these tips in action and go Pro!
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Updated on May 7th, 2020.
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