We all see beautifully designed emails in our inbox every day.
Even local mom and pop shops or kitchen table operations seem to have them.
Do all those businesses have a budget for a top-notch designer? They must, right? I mean, look at how awesome those emails look.
Nope! They don’t have to. That’s why free HTML email templates exist.
With a free HTML email template, you can choose the design elements, graphics and layout that fits your brand. From there, you can customize it with your logo, company updates, product information and more.
There are styles of templates for any email marketing need you could possibly have. Newsletters, holiday promotions, press releases, sales, events or anything else you could think of. In fact, perusing the types of templates could even give you inspiration for various types of email marketing campaigns you could be sending!
With the help of free HTML email templates, it’s liking having a graphic designer on call 24/7 without paying a retainer or hefty hourly rates. Sorry, graphic designers. There is plenty of work for you to go around elsewhere. We promise. But we digress…
Now that you know that free HTML email templates are there for you to take advantage of, let’s take a look at how to find the best one for the job at hand.
Types of Free HTML Email Templates
There’s an email template for every task. No matter the occasion or objective, you can find a template to help you get the job done.
Do you know what to look for?
A practical approach for selecting the right template is to gain an understanding of what others are doing well. See what you like, what you don’t like and what you think you can improve upon.
The next step in finding the right template for your campaign is generally pretty simple. Most ESPs will sort their templates into various categories such as newsletters, holidays or even provide options for one, two or three columns. That way you have options for every occasion or even the amount of information you want to share.
For many, the gateway to email marketing is via the newsletter. It’s a type of campaign that almost everyone understands and sees in his or her inbox each and every day.
In fact, newsletters top the list for types of email campaigns used. According to Pardot, 66% of email marketers send newsletters, followed by promotional content at 54% and a welcome email at 42%.
For the marketer looking to begin a newsletter, or revamp the one they currently have, it all begins with the newsletter template.
We understand that between email marketing, social media, PPC, retargeting and the many other marketing strategies on your plate, you may not have as much time as you’d like to browse the many newsletter templates offered by Benchmark.
Let’s look at an example of an effective newsletter as inspiration:
I’ve finally reached the point of my life where an unmade bed and a pile of clothes does not a bedroom make. So, I’ve been paying extra close attention to the Apartment Therapy daily newsletter. They do a good job of highlighting each new story or idea, with a headline, small teaser and a call to action to read more.
Halloween isn’t the only holiday for which you can adopt a template “costume.”
Christmas, New Years, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, 4th of July and many more are all email marketing opportunities for which holiday email templates exist.
We’ve previously put together a blog post dedicated to the best ways to use our holiday email templates, but here’s a refresher:
- Stay true to your branding
- Keep it simple
- Don’t limit your holiday theme to the template
Here’s an example of a well put-together holiday email campaign:
For Valentine’s Day, Etsy did a great job of both promoting their gift cards and giving some good gift ideas which could be used by a significant other that very day to avoid the dog house.
They used the hero image to promote their gift cards and then split the template into a two-column approach to share gift ideas. Check it out:
Templates That Inform
If the goal of your email campaign is to provide your subscribers with information, you should be looking for a template layout that will allow you to accomplish this.
Here is an example of a design that does a good job of informing:
This is a daily newsletter, which I read every morning without fail. Because of this frequency, I know that the lead Thrillist story is always the new or top content posted that day. Sometimes I’ve read that story before I even get out of bed. It tells me the best new restaurants that have opened lately, events going on in my city and sometimes there are crazy stories from bartenders, waiters or flight attendants.
The template succeeds in sharing content and informing me on what’s available to do come date night. Check it out:
Templates That Sell
Obviously, everyone wants to get a big Return On Investment with their email marketing. That’s not always the primary focus when choosing a template, but it is sometimes.
Here’s an example of a brand picking an email layout that helps them sell more:
I stumbled upon Bullymake in pursuit of chew toys that my pitbull/lab mix could not destroy in minutes. I quickly identified with the bully breed owner vibe of the company. After two months of my Bullymake subscription, I had acquired a stockpile of indestructible toys and couldn’t see adding to it every month. So, I canceled my subscription to Bullymake but did not unsubscribe to their newsletters.
That’s because their template enables them to connect with me on an emotional, dog-loving level…
…and if still does a good job of showing me what I could purchase from their website outside of the subscription box model.
Not only that, the section below even sells their subscription model.
Templates That Engage
One problem that email markers face is that they consider their email marketing to be a one-way communication channel. It’s not, nor should it be.
It’s important to create quality, ongoing engagement with your subscribers. That’s how you create loyal customers and even brand evangelists.
Here’s one company that has done a great job in bringing their customers along the journey of a template redesign, which is sure to create great engagement:
This weekly newsletter from ActionRocket is branded as #emailweekly. The template features the same top block with personalized copy that welcomes you each and every week. Next, there are six blocks sharing their favorite email marketing posts from the past week. If I were writing this post two months ago, I’d show you this template and include it in the Templates That Inform category:
However, the email marketing geniuses at ActionRocket have taken a turn that engages their subscribers. They’re doing a live, on-going redesign of their #emailweekly newsletter. It should be noted that a long history of quality weekly newsletters earned them the right to try things out with their subscribers. Because of this, I eagerly await each new #emailweekly newsletter to see the latest progress in the redesign. Subscribe to see how to work towards a new newsletter template for #emailweekly.
What have we learned?
A good newsletter template has content that engages above the fold. That hero image, story or general warm welcome that brings you into the newsletter from the get go. It also does a good job of sharing additional content that helps support the goals of the newsletter.
How you select the best newsletter template for your business comes down to answering a few simple questions:
- Does the template support the goal of your newsletter?
- Can the template be customized to support your branding?
- Does the layout match that of your website or at least give a similar feeling?
Let’s not forget one of the most important facts in email marketing: there is a real person behind each email address. Email marketing must be customer centric. Yes, you want to sell more and create more engagement with your customers, but that is a byproduct of customer centric marketing.
You’re not the only one sending marketing emails. They may get a few or a few dozen every day. They key to standing tall in a crowded inbox is to provide value. It doesn’t have to be savings, it can be information or entertainment as well. If you’re adding value to your subscriber’s, it will cut through the noise and they’ll open your email campaigns and possibly even look forward to their arrival.
Ready to Put What You’ve Learned to Work?
We’d love to hear some tips from you on how you select your templates. Even better, share your own examples in the comments below!