Color Psychology for Email Marketing

July 14, 2021
Posted in News
July 14, 2021 Camilla Hansen

In the world of online marketing, constant renewal and innovation is key. One thing to keep an eye on is color psychology for email marketing – or rather, how the right use of color can help you get those desired clicks!

Color is such an integral part of our psychology that we don’t even think about it. We use colorful expressions to describe emotions all the time – like “seeing red” (being angry) and “feeling blue” (being sad). It almost seems natural to us that emotion should be compared to color. The relationship between our feelings and the colors of the rainbow is one that marketers can and should exploit in order to achieve better results!

So let’s look at some ways to use color in email marketing!

MAKE IT STAND OUT

There is no single “best color to use in email marketing.” For optimal results, the colors you use should be related to the message you want to send, the product you are selling, and the audience you want to reach.

However, one rule of thumb to count on is that difference helps. The main objective of this is to keep things simple and easily get your audience to see what you want them to see.

A white background with a colorful CTA button will often do the trick. It looks neat and is rarely severely impacted by various email filters. Adding a pop of color to your email template gives your base an easy point of attention – it stands out from the rest. The simpler the creative and the more limited your color palette, the more control you have over where your audience is going to look.

The flipside, of course, is that it can very easily look too minimalistic, uninviting, or even boring.

complementary color chart

 

You can also apply the principle of difference to multiple colors. Complementary colors are one way to do so. These are the colors opposite each other on the color wheel – i.e., the colors that are the most different from each primary other. They are often used to highlight different parts of the same email.

 

 

For example, look at this email header:

email header complementary colors

Blue and orange are complementary colors. Here, they are used to highlight two separate messages to serve the same function. The orange writing tells the audience the “what” of the offer (new auto quotes are available), and the blue CTA button offers them the “how” (click here to get a quote). Neither one attracts more attention than the other; instead, this use of difference funnels information into action.

As a marketer, you can use color differences to create optimal color schemes for email marketing. But remember: use it to your advantage. Make sure you center your difference around the action you want. Often, this means applying color where you are linking away from your template.

 

WHAT ABOUT THE TEXT?

Your marketing email will necessarily involve some kind of text. The vehicle quote example above is very compact – in fact, it is only the header of a marketing email. It has relatively little text, so it is worth emphasizing said text with the use of color. (For the sake of example, we’ll ignore that this text is part of an image.)

But the more information you wish to provide, the less variation you should have in text color in a marketing email. Your audience doesn’t want to navigate between brightly colored paragraphs. They will likely be so confused by unnecessary inconsistencies that they lose focus.

Black and white are usually safe options, black even more so because it is the standard color employed by email services. It is less likely to get flagged or filtered as spam than any other color and will still be visible even if the rest of your design gets censored. So if there can be said to be a “best color for email marketing text,” it would be black – for entirely practical reasons.

 

WHICH COLORS SHOULD YOU USE?

The truth is, the best color for email marketing buttons or the best text color in a marketing email depends on what you need. As is the case with “seeing red” or “feeling blue,” colors tend to convey certain messages to their audience.

Red – synonymous with aggression, danger, and passion for a reason. This color literally makes our bodies produce adrenaline (source: Health.com) – perfect for triggering on-the-spot decisions. It is no surprise that red is often used for discounts, sales, and fast food, all of which rely heavily on impulse-buying.

Blue – associated with calmness, stability, and logic. According to Health.com, these attributes of blue are rooted in our physiology. Seeing it simply makes us relax. So it makes sense that blue is often used to promote platforms where users spend a lot of time (think LinkedIn and Facebook) and services where reliability is required (like insurance).

Green – the color of healing, renewal, and sustainability. Green is a “natural” color, symbolic of all things thriving and healthy. If you are looking to market products related to sustainability, healing, or nature, this color would be an ideal choice. By the green of plants, it already in itself evokes the ideas you want your audience to think of.

Yellow – is the color of the sun. Yellow is used to incite brightness and happiness, warmth and – in some cases – even gold. The tricky thing about yellow is that it can often appear too bright on its own and is difficult to distinguish from lighter backgrounds. However, if used as a spot of brightness against a darker background, it is highly effective.

Purple – mystery, intrigue, and magic. At full saturation, purple has a similar effect to red in increasing our energy levels, but without the aggressive connotations. Reminiscent of sunset, purple is also excellent for nighttime-oriented campaigns such as astro and gambling.

You can also play with the effect of colors by adjusting their brightness and intensity. Brighter colors are more likely to grab your audience’s attention, but they are also more tiring for the eyes. If you expect people to look at your email for more than a few seconds, therefore, you may be better off muting your colors by making them either slightly darker. However, dark colors can look a bit “muddy” or sinister if you’re not careful.

Pastels generally come across as milder, cheerier, and often more modern. These colors are easy on the eye but can also appear childish and can be difficult to see against a white background.

You can also use multiple colors – if you do it correctly. Using a broad color scheme in moderation will give your template a festive look, a bit like a virtual confetti cannon. It will brighten your template and give it a fun, dynamic look as long as you don’t overdo it.

COLORS TO WATCH OUT FOR

With all the positive options listed above, you may be asking yourself what color is bad for email marketing. The answer is not straight-forward, but here are some colors to avoid.

green yellow sick emojiYellowish green – is used for sickliness, nausea, and even vomit for a reason. It is not a very pleasant color to the eye, so you may want to steer clear of that one.

 

Brown – brown has its uses. It is a calm, earthy color reminiscent of nature. But it can also be extremely boring and unappetizing.

Neon backgrounds or text – neon is so bright that it is difficult for the eyes to concentrate on. It may scare away your audience.

 

NOW GO FORTH AND TRY IT YOURSELF

Color is a complex tool for email marketers – and one that can have huge benefits if it is manipulated correctly. From the placement of colorful elements down to the shade of a specific color you choose, it all affects your audience. Don’t be afraid to be bold and utilize the connotations of every color of the rainbow – but do so in moderation and with a purpose.

Keep your audience and product in mind when you select your color scheme. It will benefit both you and your recipients in the long run!

Color psychology for email marketing can be hard to navigate – but it can also truly be an email marketer’s best friend.

Camilla Hansen

Originally from Denmark, but graduating with honors from the Vrije Universiteit, in the Netherlands. Camilla studied Literature and Journalism and is passionate about writing and researching all things content and online marketing. Entering the Performance Marketing realm as an Affiliate Manager in 2020, her career at VIP Response took off. She combines both aspects in drafting helpful content and insightful articles and tips to the affiliate and online marketing sphere.