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How to Use Color Psychology in Email Newsletters

5 min

So you’ve done the hard work, you’ve got your killer subject line. It’s short, it’s sweet, and it’s very clickable. You’re confident that people are going to open the email and see your newsletter, but now you have to make sure they read it. Yes, a lot of that’s down to having interesting content (and you’ve got that too) but you want to have that cutting edge that makes sure your readers want to examine every inch of the newsletter.

Related: Email Design Best Practices & Email Design Trends

Seeing Red

Color theory has been around for a long time, but its application in marketing circles is pretty new. Regardless of its age, there’s no denying its effectiveness.

We as human beings naturally associate different colors with different emotions and ideals. Savvy businesses can harness these associations to create desire, trust, and pleasure in the mind of their customer, and in doing so make their services more attractive. This, of course, usually results in higher average conversion rates.

Adding Some Color Psychology

If you look at some examples of email marketing campaigns, you’ll notice that most of them put a big block of color at the very top of the newsletter. This serves as a hook for the reader’s eye, and naturally draws them into reading the content itself.


After that, color is applied much more sparingly, you’re not looking to overload your reader with color, rather your objective is to use color to guide their attention and influence their impressions of the piece. For example, article headings are often coloured differently than the article text to encourage people to read them first – meaning they often take in the whole newsletter before going back to read the articles that most interest them.

Color Code Your Business

While human experience means that we all have different reactions to different colors, there are some colors, which it’s broadly agreed, have specific effects on a person’s emotions. Depending on the topic of your newsletter, it may pay dividends to pick out a few colors that match your tone (and brand). For example, if you want your newsletter to appear optimistic, bold and confident, then you should use reds, yellows, and oranges.

If you’re a creative company, or are promoting something creative, it pays to make use of some purple in your newsletter. Purple also works well when you’re trying to imply decadence and wealth.

Any newsletter that wants to appear more dependable and trustworthy should make good use of blues throughout. Green also carries positive associations, and can often be associated with wealth and growth.

Color In Context

The success of color in your newsletter hinges on the perceived appropriateness of the color within the context of the newsletter. So choose your colors based on the tone of your website and the mood that you hope to portray. It’s also worth assessing similar newsletters to your own and their use of color, though not necessarily with the aim of imitating them (more on this later).


The content of your newsletter is going to have quite an impact on the kinds of colors that are available to you. For example, if you were writing a newsletter about developments in your community then lots of bright vibrant colours would be welcome in the eyes of the reader. However, If your newsletter is addressing more serious topics, then you would be better off using more subdued tones with a splash of color to grab attention. Always consider how the reader is going to react to your use of a color; what looks good in a vacuum, may send a completely wrong message in context.

Looking for some inspiration? With over 100 colorful newsletter templates to choose from, you can easily customize and send professional-looking emails in no time. Say goodbye to boring and generic emails and add a pop of color to your marketing today.

Not Too Much

One of the recent A/B tests showed that a red button was clicked much more frequently than its green alternative. While this follows on in some ways from the idea of red being a bold and exciting color, it’s also important to consider the other colors on a website. Green is a much more neutral color and is much more likely to be present throughout the website. Red on the other hand, doesn’t lend itself to extensive use, and therefore stands out when it appears.

Keep this in mind when laying out your newsletter – if you want a piece of your newsletter to be the focal point or for an area of the newsletter to draw attention to itself, then fill it with a vibrant color that isn’t present anywhere else on the newsletter. For example, if your newsletter is largely white, bursts of red, yellow, and orange in important text boxes or titles will draw the reader’s eye down the page and encourage click-throughs.

Your Colors, Your Brand

Studies have shown that humans prefer brands which they have no trouble recognizing. The same should go for your newsletter. Once you’ve picked a color scheme and decided how you want to utilise different colors in your newsletter, stick with those colors. Readers are much more likely to engage with a format they recognize and follow it through to the end.

When picking your colors, be sure to choose ones that make you stand out from other newsletters. If most newsletters in your field are using reds and yellows, consider using a lot of blue instead. This is immediately notable and also has the added bonus of many competing newsletters merging together in the reader’s mind.

Another Tool In Your Arsenal

With the popularity of e-newsletters on the rise, it’s important that your content is as compelling as possible. While harnessing color theory will not guarantee you a better read or click-through rate than other newsletters, it should guide your target audience to the articles they want to read; and encourage them to start thinking of you newsletter as a brand to which they return regularly.

Kerry Butters
Kerry Butters
Kerry is a prolific technology writer, covering a range of subjects from design & development, SEO & social, to corporate tech & gadgets. Co-author of SitePoint's Jump Start HTML5, Kerry also heads up digital content agency markITwrite and is an all-round geek.