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Best Colors To Use In Email Marketing

The best colors to use in email marketing are those that evoke a positive emotional response from the reader, and encourage them to click your call-to-action button. Keep your color scheme contrasting to make sure your text is easy to read …

Email marketers often question the value of email. After all, it’s a medium that many don’t read to completion. The most opened emails are those that look visually appealing. If you want to get more action from your subscribers, then use these best colors in email marketing.

When to use which color

Every color has both personal-level and public-level significance. Personally, a color can be associated with a person’s memories and nurturing, which is tough to predict. Many personal-level interpretations often contribute towards forming a popular—or public—perception. This is prominently seen in the use of colors in advertisements, movies, and images worldwide.

The public level of preferences can be categorized into groups:

  • Global significance
  • Psychological significance
  • Cultural significance
  • Seasonal significance

Global significance

The global reach of a color often creates universal narratives. Some colors become synonymous with certain kinds of messages—for example, black and white are often associated with emails on fashion accessories and apparel.

Psychological significance

Certain colors can excite, scare, or anger people. If you use particular colors in the correct combination, you can subtly initiate interaction from contacts. Understanding which colors have what effect is important, because you don’t want to accidentally use colors with a negative psychological impact when you want a positive response from people.

Cultural significance

Many colors are associated with festivals, customs, and practices. One color can have a variety of significance around the globe. Red is considered auspicious for many South Asian countries, while it’s widely used to denote Christmas in the West.

Seasonal significance

For ages, colors have depicted different seasonal aspects—orange was synonymous with autumn, green was with spring and so on. As an email marketer, you can replicate these trends in your email campaigns and give yourself a shortcut to invoking a feeling in a reader.

Now let’s look at some major colors and examine their different types of significance.

Red

Global significance:

  • Red is associated with immediacy in acting
  • Use it carefully. It’s often found only in important sections of a template like a CTA button

Psychological significance:

  • Red is associated with passion and danger. It also conveys a lively and spirited attitude
  • Red can be used in marketing emails related to high adrenaline sports or cosmetic products like lipstick or nail paint
Templates showing the prominence of red color

Cultural significance:

  • In Asia, red stands for good fortune and joy
  • Red can be used in email newsletters by any institution associated with marriage in India
  • In some African countries, red is usually associated with negativity, thus this color should be avoided while sending emails to those regions

Seasonal significance:

  • Red is connected to the season of summer in some Asian countries

Orange

Global significance:

  • Orange is a good substitute for red, serving a similar purpose without making the content gaudy
  • If used properly in CTA buttons, orange can prove to be very interactive

Psychological significance:

  • Orange is associated with energy and enthusiasm
  • Being a mixture of yellow and red, it partially carries the effects of both colors
  • Brands associated with energy-boosting elements like health drinks can make orange their dominant color
Templates showing the prominence of orange color

Cultural significance:

  • In Eastern culture, orange is an auspicious color, whereas Western culture associates orange with events like Halloween

Seasonal significance: 

  • The color orange symbolizes autumn in Europe and the USA
  • It can be used as a dominant color or a filler in emails and newsletters sent during this time of the year

Yellow

Global significance:

  • Being synonymous with vigor and youthfulness, yellow can be used in certain fashion-related emails

Psychological significance:

  • Yellow is usually associated with optimism and happiness
  • Yellow reflects a substantial amount of light, thus you should use it carefully so that it doesn’t make viewing strenuous
Templates showing yellow as the prominent color

Cultural significance:

  • In many countries around the world, yellow is used to depict warmth and a welcoming attitude

Seasonal significance:

  • The zestfulness of yellow can be connected to summer and lemonade
  • Yellow can be used in emails sent out during this season

Green

Global significance: 

  • Green is widely used to interpret nature and natural things
  • Green is quite common in depictions of peace, alongside white
  • Being the color of grass, green can be a natural choice for industries associated with sports
  • It can be best used in emails sent from eco-tourism and organic farming industries
  • Green is also used to depict currency and can be used in finance-related emails

Psychological significance:

  • Green exudes enthusiasm; it also gives a message of rebirth and restoration
  • Darker shades of green represent stability
Templates showing green as the prominent color

Cultural significance:

  • Green is the global color for “go” in signal posts or traffic lights, making it a good candidate for CTA buttons
  • In some Asian countries like China, green is associated with jade, so it is connected to value

Seasonal significance:

  • Green is known to project growth, productivity, and happiness, it can be used in seasonal emails sent out during spring

Blue

Global significance:

  • Widely associated with trust and safety, blue is used by some brands as their major or accompanying color
  • Blue is also widely seen as a gender-neutral color
  • A deeper shade of blue is often used in emails as the color for link text and alt text

Psychological significance:

  • Blue is most associated with trust and tranquility; it is a color often used by the healthcare industry
  • Blue is less available in edibles found in nature, so try to avoid using it in emails and newsletters talking about food items
Templates showing the prominence of blue color

Cultural significance:

  • Since both the water and sky are often blue, it can be used to depict peace in your email content

Seasonal significance:

  • In India, blue is used to depict the onset of the monsoon season, so it can be used in emails promoting raincoats and umbrellas
  • Alongside white, blue is also used to depict winter in some countries

White

Global significance:

  • White represents neutrality and provides space in the email template, thus helping it achieve a simple, minimalist look
  • White is the most common background color for posters and banners
  • White feels elegant, which makes it a favorite for fashion-related email content

Psychological significance:

  • Apart from purity, white also represents safety, which is probably why it is predominantly used in the medical profession
Templates showing the prominence of white color

Cultural significance:

  • Culturally, white can be used in emails promoting wedding apparel in the West

Seasonal significance:

  • Because of its association with snow in the Northern Hemisphere, white is the most common color to depict the winter season
  • You can use white as the dominant color in emails sent out for Christmas and Hanukkah

Black

Global significance:

  • Black adds sophistication to designs; it can be best used while promoting luxury products
  • Along with white, black is one of the go-to colors for backgrounds. It is also probably the most preferred color for text in banners and posters

Psychological significance:

  • Black creates an element of mystery and can be used in emails where new offers, features, or discounts are revealed
Templates showing the prominence of black color

Cultural significance:

  • Black has also gathered the irk of people from several cultures and is often associated with negativity, so you should use it carefully

Seasonal significance:

  • Black and grey are colors that depict heavy rainfall, so you can use these to depict the peak of the monsoon season in some Asian countries

Applying color to email marketing

What captures the reader’s attention once they open an email is not the text, but the visual elements, such as color, design, and images… However, it is color in particular that can awaken interest, or, conversely, cut it at the root, if the combination of colors does not work well.

To help you with your email marketing strategy and to ensure you use the ideal color combination to achieve your goals, we have prepared this infographic with examples of real emails and the messages that each color transmits to the user.

Psychology Of Colors For Email Marketing

In a Huffington Post article, Leslie Harrington, Executive Director of The Color Association of The United States suggests that: “we react on multiple levels of association with colors. There are social or cultural levels as well as personal relationships with particular colors”. You also have an innate reaction to color. For example, when you look at red, it does increase your heart rate. It is a stimulating color. This goes back to caveman days of fire and danger and alarm.”

Keep your product in mind when picking colors for your marketing campaigns

When considering the use of certain colors in email campaigns, the first thing we need to consider is its association to our brand. Maintaining the integrity of the brand is our number one goal, and after that we can start to think about the messaging and the moods that the colors will portray to the audience.

In a research report entitled ‘Impact of Color in Marketing’, it was uncovered that 90% of decisions made about certain products can be based on their color alone.

gender colour

via KISSmetrics

Gender plays a role when picking colors

Another angle on choosing the right color for your email campaigns is gender. Psychology of colors can be gender specific and certain colors are favoured more than others by males and females, as KISSmetrics uncovered.

kiss colours

via KISSmetrics

After considering your target audience, you’ll want to think about conversion. What colors will invite your prospects to take action? We recommend A/B testing (or A/X testing!) as well as Segmentation as different approaches work differently for each campaign and segment.

Here is an experiment done by Hubspot:

call to action colours in email

Taking into consideration what we have learnt so far about these two colors, as well as putting them in a modern context such as driving, where green means “Go”, red means “Stop”; which of these two buttons do you think had the higher conversion

The red button outperformed green by 21%! Probably not what you had in mind, right? Knowing which colors to use for call-to-actions is an ancient old and biblical discussion that will never end (okay, not really).

The lesson we must learn here is that even if we do our due diligence and research, we should always be testing our campaigns. Every customer is different and their response to each color can vary depending on a variety of reasons such as mood, location, device used, choice of color combination and so much more.

Impact of the use of color on email marketing deliverability

As you may already know, there are a host of key phrases which Internet Service Providers (ISPs) don’t like, which means if these words are used then the email is very likely to go straight to the spam folder. These are called SPAM triggering phrases.

Just like these phrases which may send your email into SPAM, you’ll need to consider your image to text ratio – as a rule of thumb use 25% image and 75% text.

Unfortunately, ISPs don’t reveal exactly what triggers spam filters, however through the same collaborative effort of finding out what words trigger them and what text to image ratio we should be using, we have come to understand that extensive use of red in texts is one of the main tip offs.

Red is known as a ‘loud color’, so extensive use of it within text or background usually means that we’re really trying to get the users attention. The same principle is used towards CAPITALS, large texts and symbols such as exclamation or the dollar sign.

Most SPAM filters work on a scoring system. Each of the mentioned attributes above carries a maximum score. The higher your total score, the more likely your emails will end up in SPAM.

Conclusion

We spend a lot of time making sure the body of our sales letters are perfect – because, that’s what sells the product. The color selection for your sales letter is important. It sets the tone for the message you’re about to send.

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