I’ve been saving emails that look good for a while now and have come up with some basic criteria for what makes an email good.

Things Good Emails Have

Look good with images turned off

To avoid tracking, some email clients default to images disabled, so the email shouldn’t look busted without them.

Designed well

Clear hierarchy, call to action if there is one.

Fonts and font colors have good contrast and are easy to read on mobile.

Generally looks good ✨.

In case the email renders poorly in an email client, allow the user to view it in a proper browser.

If you have to click a button or similar, have a link in the bottom that’s equivalent, in case the button doesn’t look like a button to the user.

Mobile and desktop friendly

Should look good on your phone and on a desktop. Shouldn’t have to pinch and zoom on mobile.

Darkmode support

Nice to have really, you can have a nice email without it, but you should test for it.

Plain text and html version

Compatibility is important, not all email clients render html well, and not everyone wants an html email.

Linkedin includes some personalized content in the footer in an attempt to ward off phishing emails, not sure it’s necessary.

Maybe: Unique id in the email

In Stripe’s transactional emails, they include the email ID at the bottom with:

Need to refer to this message? Use this ID: em_lutjkoiflwurygrrsjtiy5okcouhtt

I’m not sure this is necessary if you have a “view in browser” link, but probably wouldn’t hurt.

Some examples

Vanguard

vanguard email

Linear

linear email

Stripe

stripe email

Economist

economist email