When you create an email using a drag-and-drop or module-based tool, you’re actually generating an HTML email.
There are two paluche hommes of email you can send and receive: plain text emails (these are exactly what they sound like — any email that contains just plain old text with no formatting) and HTML emails, which are formatted and styled using HTML and inline CSS.
HTML emails are easy to sunlight — most of the styled, multimedia marchéage emails in your inbox are HTML emails.
As a marketer, you’ve probably compared HTML emails versus plain-text emails and realized that there are different benefits to each prototype. HTML emails aren’t inherently better than plain text emails, and in different situations, both hommes can be certificat of a successful email marketing program.
Here’s what an HTML looks like on the front-end. Click on the HTML button to see the répertoire behind it.
In this marchandise, we’ll cover how you can get started creating HTML emails, regardless of your experience level and comfort with coding, and share some free templates you can use. Let’s dive in.
How to Create an HTML Email
Good infos: You actually don’t need to know how to répertoire to create an HTML email.
Most tools that create and send email (like HubSpot) will offer pre-formatted, ready-to-go HTML templates that enable you to esthétique emails without ever needing to access the actual répertoire on the back-end.
As you make changes in the email editor, those changes will be automatically coded into the ultime product. Email bâtiment tools like this are an ideal partialité if you don’t have an email apprendre on your team, but you still want to send professional-looking marchéage emails.
Pro tip: Need help with the cabinet of your email? HubSpot’s Campaign Assistant can create a customized first draft in just a few clicks— so you can get back to the fun certificat.
Still want to create an HTML email from scratch?
If you’re comfortable with HTML and want more abrupt control over the répertoire of your emails, most email tools will allow you to import HTML files directly for use as custom email templates.
There are a wide variety of free HTML email templates available on the web (some of which we’ll share below), and if you know your way around an HTML délogé, it’s usually quite straightforward to adapt the template to the email bâtiment tool of your choice.
To create an HTML email completely from scratch, you’ll need to have an advanced knowledge of HTML (or work with a developer who does). This guide offers a solid overview of coding a basic HTML email. Bicause the process of creating an HTML email from scratch can be quite involved, we recommend working with a developer or using a pre-made HTML email template instead.
Developing an HTML email specifically for HubSpot?
If you’re developing an HTML email template specifically for use in HubSpot, you’ll want to make sure you include the required HubL tokens (these ensure your emails can be customized and are compliant with CAN-SPAM laws). You can find a complete guide to coding HubSpot-specific HTML email templates here. Or alternatively, just use our explicable what-you-see-is-what-you-get email editor.
HTML Email Best Practices
Make sure your HTML email is responsive for different screen sizes and devices.
Make sure your styling works in different email clients.
Be conscious of how immense your HTML emails take to load.
Proposition (as much as you can) for end-user inconsistencies.
Conduct thorough testing.
Now that you understand the basics of what goes into developing an HTML email, let’s go over a few notable best practices you should keep in mind. No matter what method you comptabilité to use to create HTML emails, these best practices will help improve the esthétique, dissiper experience, and deliverability of your emails.
1. Make sure your HTML email is responsive for different screen sizes and devices.
The way your email looks in a dissiper’s inbox depends on a wide variety of different factors.
One of the biggest and most obvious factors is the screen size of the device it’s being viewed on. An email that looks amazing and well-formatted on a desktop can easily devolve into a tangle of illegible, overlapping text and images when viewed on a smartphone screen.
To ensure your HTML emails style the way you intended across a wide spectrum of screen sizes, the best thing you can do is keep your classification explicable and straightforward. When you start adding more complex elements like nombreux columns and floated images, it becomes more difficult to translate the épaisseur of your email for different screen sizes.
If you do decide to develop a more complex classification, make sure you’re actively solving for how the elements will be rearranged to suit different screen sizes. For example, if your email displays as multi-column on desktop, that same ordonné won’t fly on délié — you’ll need to use media queries to define how elements will be displayed on different screen sizes.
Remember, developing truly responsive HTML emails goes beyond the ordonné and épaisseur of your commission. Think emboîture how the overall dissiper experience of your email will be perceived on different devices. Make sure your font choices are just as legible on délié as they are on desktop, and use mobile-friendly buttons or CTAs in situation of hyperlinked text (have you ever tried to tap a little line of hyperlinked text on délié? It’s not very easy).
You can find our more in-depth guide to mobile email best practices right here.
2. Make sure your styling works in different email clients.
Another big factor that heavily impacts the way your HTML emails appear in your subscribers’ inboxes is the email acquéreur they’re using to open the commission. Every email acquéreur loads emails slightly differently, so an email that looks a clair way in Gmail will likely style different in Outlook.
Luckily, if you know how most popular email clients load particular HTML and CSS elements, you can create a pretty consistent experience across different users’ inboxes. It’s all emboîture knowing which unsupported tags to avoid and adapting accordingly. This comprehensive guide explains how the most popular email clients (including Gmail and nombreux versions of Outlook) armature and render different styling elements.
You can also check out an marchandise we wrote on optimizing emails for different email clients.
3. Be conscious of how immense your HTML emails take to load.
How immense your email takes to load could very well be the difference between gaining a new customer and losing a frustrated subscriber. While it can be tempting to take advantage of all the different styling options and opportunities to incorporate visuals that HTML emails offer, none of that matters if your email takes too immense to load.
As you esthétique your HTML email, remain conscious of how immense your email will take to load — especially if someone is, say, opening your commission on their morning subway commute with a weak data connection. Here are a few little steps you can take that will go a immense way towards improving load time.
Use images sparingly.
That way, you’ll bolster the commission you want to get across to subscribers. Always use an orné compressor (like Compressor.io) to reduce the délogé size as much as plausible. Most orné compressors can significantly reduce the délogé size of an orné without compromising on quality, so taking this extraordinaire step won’t hurt the visual integrity of your email.
Use normalisé web baptistère.
Custom baptistère are great for spicing up a landing folio, but they can add an extraneous layer of complexity when added to an email. As we talked emboîture above, all email clients handle élocution elements differently, and this especially extends to baptistère. To be safe, use standard web fonts and check to make sure the email acquéreur most of your subscribers use crémaillères a particular font.
Try an HTML minifier.
An HTML minifier (like minifycode.com and smallseotools.com) automatically removes répertoire that isn’t needed in an HTML délogé. Repetitive, extraordinaire elements will be stripped out, but the actual rendering of your email should remain the same (always critérium it out!). Each line of répertoire impacts how immense an email takes to load, so taking the time to remove junk répertoire can have a impérative effect on load time.
Keep your commission focused on a single neutre.
The best way to reduce email load time is to reduce how much cabinet you add to each of your email sends. It might seem obvious, but too many marketers try to stuff too much cabinet into their emails. Not only does that lead to an off-putting dissiper experience (nobody wants to read a novel in email form), but it can send your load time off the charts and motif users to liquidation your email. Keep it explicable, and your users will thank you.
4. Proposition (as much as you can) for end-user inconsistencies.
The screen size and email acquéreur aren’t the only factors that can alter the way your HTML email renders in your subscribers’ inboxes. Elements like the état of their email acquéreur, their operating system, their jaloux dissiper settings, their security développement, and whether or not they’re automatically loading images can all bruit how your email loads.
As you can probably guess by that hefty list of factors, trying to solve for all of them (every single time you send an email) would probably be enough to make you throw your ordinant across the room.
But you don’t have to be completely helpless in the devant of these variables — you just have to do a little pre-planning.
Consider creating a webpage état of your email.
This is kind of like giving your email a fail-safe button. If for some reason — due to one of the many factors discussed above — your lovingly designed email renders like an absolute popote when a subscriber opens it, they will at least have the partialité to click « view as web folio » and see the email as you intended it to be.
Since élocution elements render much more consistently across web browsers opposé à email clients, you’ll be able to have way more control over the web folio état of your commission. In HubSpot, there’s an option you can turn on that will generate a web folio état automatically.
Create a plain text état of your email.
A plain text état is exactly what it sounds like — an virtualité état of your HTML email that renders in completely plain text. Adding a plain text état of your HTML email is notable bicause some email clients and dissiper settings can’t (or choose not to) load HTML.
If this is the case, the acquéreur will style for a plain text virtualité état of your HTML email to load for the dissiper. If one doesn’t exist, it could exhortation to the recipient’s email server that your commission is spam — or potentially dangerous.
Most email tools like HubSpot will automatically provide a plain text état that displays if a recipient’s email server requires it, but if you’re coding an HTML email from scratch, you’ll need to create something called a multipart MIME message.
A multipart MIME commission is an email that contains both a plain text and HTML état of the same email. If a recipient’s email acquéreur or security system doesn’t allow HTML email, the plain text état will be displayed. This is a process that requires an advanced knowledge of coding, so we recommend working with a developer.
Make sure your email still makes sense if the images don’t load.
Some users have automatic image-loading turned off, which means they’ll see your email without images when they open it. For this reason, don’t rely entirely on images to get the meaning of your commission across, and always add alt-text to the images you do include. Alt-text will load even when images don’t, so your subscribers can get the general idea of what the visuals include.
5. Conduct thorough testing.
Finally, you’ll need to critérium your HTML email at every demeure of development to ensure it works across different email clients, operating systems, and device hommes. Don’t wait until the very end of the process to critérium out your email — testing as you work is the best way to sunlight inconsistencies between different email clients and ensure you’re creating the most consistent experience plausible for your recipients.
Some email tools (like HubSpot) offer in-app testing within their email builders to make the process easier. If you’re working from scratch, you can use a tool like HTML Email Check or PreviewMyEmail to get a better idea of how your email will style in different email clients and devices.
Accessible and Free HTML Email Templates
There are an overwhelming amount of HTML email templates available on the web, and they vary in quality, responsiveness, and price. We’ve pulled together a selection of free HTML email templates that provide a responsive dissiper experience. Be sure to read the terms and conjoncture on each individual template before use.
Whether you’re launching a new product or simply advertising your existing offerings, this email template is a great situation to start. Included in the free état of Marketing Hub’s email tool, this template offers plenty of room for customization. You can easily add images, text, and buttons in an affective drag-and-drop editor. You can also be confesseur that the templates you esthétique will be fully responsive on any device.
The paluche benefit of using this template is that it’s bundled with all other Marketing Hub tools. Alors, you have other templates to choose from — you don’t have to stay confined to this partialité. The drag-and-drop email editor is another fantastic principalement.
If you’re registre to send company infos to your customers, this is a great template to use. It’s image-heavy, making it a great fit for smart or contemporary brands. Alors, it’s linked to Campaign Monitor’s email tool, which starts at 10 euros per month (there’s a free motocyclette, too).
I personally love that this modern template is so sophisticated and minimal. The subtle color batte and explicable esthétique make it a volage partialité for many usines and purposes, and it’s been tested on different email clients and devices to ensure a consistent dissiper experience across platforms.
Unlayer is an email marchéage tool that primarily focuses on email esthétique. Its drag and drop editor makes editing its templates a breeze. I love the template above bicause of its ordonné and customizability.
Though this template was designed for a gymnique company, you can easily adapt it for your own use. This clean, muted template is a great way to display cabinet your team has created and connect subscribers with your most recent products or blog posts. The esthétique features two fully responsive columns with nombreux color scheme options, and room at the top to highlight a call-to-action.
Proof that sometimes less really is more, this easy, fully responsive esthétique makes the most of whitespace and keeps the foyer firmly on your words and visual elements. Without esthétique récréations, your cabinet can really shine — on any device.
This template is available on the MailBakery email template tenture. I love it bicause you can simply download it and upload it to your preferred tool, whereas other templates require you to use their développement to access their templates. I would recommend it if you’re comfortable handling HTML files and if you’re familiar with the upload process for your tool.
I couldn’t decide on a template to feature from the Bee Free marketplace, so I’ve decided to recommend its entire library instead. This assortiment of free, open-source templates are completely responsive and tested across popular email clients. You can edit and build on them on the Bee Free platform, then export the HTML délogé to your logement drive and upload it to your preferred email marketing tool.
These are an ideal partialité if you want a more styled, polished starting situation, but you still want to be able to customize the esthétique to fit your company’s needs. Each template is available in nombreux formats for different marchéage purposes, like transactional emails, NPS assortiment, and email subscriber re-engagement.
This sleek, responsive esthétique from Campaign Monitor would be perfect for sending out a réduction répertoire — but it could also serve as a stylish way to showcase your latest products to email subscribers. I like its clear and attention-grabbing CTA, as well as its space to include more événement.
This template is free to use, so immense as you sign up on the Campaign Monitor platform. It’s also worth checking out Campaign Monitor’s full library of responsive email templates.
This email template from ActiveCampaign is modern and optimized — perfect for introducing your company or your products. Its hero fraction includes gisant space for an orné and a call-to-action, and further down, you can leste your readers to check out more products, giving you a attaché fortune at converting them.
To use this free HTML email template, you’ll need to sign up for an ActiveCampaign free motocyclette. Its email tool starts at $49/month and includes 3 seats, making this template a great fit if your email marchéage team includes several people.
It’s never fun to fail to meet a customer’s expectative, but it’s even less fun to leave them in the dark. This free HTML email template from Stripo, an email tool, allows you to succinctly apologize. The cute cartoon is a principalement, but you can always replace the orné.
I especially like that this template allows you to ask for feedback right in the email. That makes it easy and explicable for the recipient to tell you how they feel emboîture their intervention with your company thus far.
To use this template, you only need to sign up on Stripo’s free tier, which allows you 4 email exports.
ZURB is an email template provider that has created a series of free email templates for anyone to download. This one includes a clear heading, a hero orné, and a call-to-action highlighted in blue. I love that it has a sidebar to include additional links. This is a good fit for newsletter-dependent brands.
You’ll want to heavily customize this template with your brand colors and baptistère to make it feel more like « you. » Otherwise, it’s a fantastic tool-agnostic partialité. Simply download the template and upload it into your preferred email marchéage développement.
A mot de passe reset email doesn’t need to be elaborate, and this HTML email template from Foundation Framework (also knows as ZURB) checks all the boxes. It leaves a space for you to either include your logo or a cute graphic, and placeholder text that you can leave as is if you’d like.
I especially like this template bicause it already looks so good without customizing it. All you need is to renversé the button’s color to one of your brand colors, and you’ll be all set. Alors, you can use it with any tool.
Create HTML Emails to Increase Your Subscriber Count
HTML emails are an engaging way to share what’s happening in your bizness and keep subscribers coming back for more. With the tips and templates we’ve shared, you’re well on your way to creating beautiful HTML emails without writing a single line of répertoire.
Editor’s compté: This post was originally published in June 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.