Flow Communications

So, let’s answer the most obvious question first: are email newsletters still relevant in the world of 2021? After all, you are always on the Quest for Zero Email yourself, aren’t you?

The answer is a resounding yes.

The evidence? Email is 40 times more effective than social media in attracting new customers, and the average return on investment is $42 for every $1 spent. (That’s around R612 for every R14 spent).

Now that we have that out of the way, how do you make your email newsletter compelling in 2021? Here are a few trends to help you.


We’re into “less is more” these days. Design your e-newsletter as though you are putting together something you wouldn’t be shy to ostentatiously read on the Blue Train (missing travel with a capital T? We are.)

We’re talking clean lines, lots of white space, elegant (read muted) colour schemes.

Font fabulous

Say goodbye to the “hero image”. These days we’re into typeface as art when it comes to the masthead of your newsletter. Go bold, arty, 3D or retro.

ID Cheader
In line with new trends Flow's design of the Industrial Development Corporation's emailer has jettisoned the "hero image" in favour of striking font.

Go graphic

Graphic icons are big news these days. Use graphics to reinforce your message and liven up the emailer’s look while reflecting your brand personality.

NMF newsletter timeline.png
Flow's design of the Nelson Mandela Foundation's On This Day newsletter feature uses graphic icons to focus attention on important dates in the global icon's life. It also uses the new "dark mode" trend.

Skeuomorphic frames

Skeuomorphism is where an “object” in software mimics its real world counterpart, like the old-school telephone receiver that sits at the centre of the WhatsApp icon. This trend is easy to execute – just put your copy and inside a stylized recreation of a mobile device.

Get on the dark side

Dark mode compatibility is another trend to consider. Skip over the squabble about who invented it and just consider that it is easier on the eye and, thanks to our new(ish) Covid-induced lifestyle, we’re spending more time looking at screens. One thing, colours do have an effect on emotions, so have a think before you apply dark mode.

Give indicators

Tell the reader what to expect. Little notes that indicate whether they have a short or a long read ahead of them can be very useful to the reader, and to you. This way you diminish the chance of annoying someone who’s interested in the topic but pushed for time, and if they know they have a 10 minute read ahead they may save it for their next coffee break. Also consider heading longer pieces with a few main takeaways, so that you get the message across even to those who don’t return.

The one big thing

Woman working on Laptop
(Image: Unsplash)

While you can choose which trends to adopt, there is one thing emailers must do – keep the client front and centre. Remember, it’s not about you (as much as you might like it to be), it’s about them.

Personalisation is not really a trend, it is one of the ways the world has changed. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes – we all get loads of email these days. We all want to feel as though the brands we pick care about us as individuals, and that they are about more than the bottom line. People want connection, ever more so, actually, now that Covid-19 has us living separate lives. Stand for something people can connect with on a personal level and your tribe will find you.

Good luck!

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