Our favourite tools for designing email templates for your next marketing campaign

We’ve taken a look at five of our favourite email template designing apps that you can use for your next marketing campaign or even with transactional emails. We’ll give you the pros and cons of each telling you our honest opinion of what we like and dislike about each of these.

  1. Designmodo Postcards
  2. Smore Newsletter
  3. BeeFree
  4. CoffeeCup
  5. ThemeForest

This post does not contain any referral/affiliate links and is the sole expression of the author’s views.

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    Designmodo Postcards

    Best for: Design oriented email junkies

    This has to be our all time favourite web app to design some stunningly gorgeous email newsletter campaigns. It’s what we ourselves at Letterwell use to create our own monthly email newsletter. Take a look at some past designs we created using their Postcards app.

    PROS: 

    • Gorgeous email templates with easy editing 
    • Modular drag-and-drop email design system
    • Templates for every kind of email (marketing emails and transactional emails)
    • Very good support (they replied to us within a day)

    CONS: 

    • Postcards is pricey (pricing starts from $260 a year) 
    • Free plan is quite limited and only lets you access 10 of the hundreds of email template modules
    • You have to self host your images (or pay even more for them to host your images)
    • Limited integration with other email marketing platforms (only supports Mailchimp and Hubspot)

    Overall we really enjoy using Designmodo despite the hefty price tag. For non-techies that just want something that looks professional and is easy to build, Designmodo is a good choice if you can afford it.

    Check them out here: https://designmodo.com/postcards/ 

    Smore Newsletters

    Best for: Multilingual email marketing

    No matter the medium or the message, Smore newsletters always look great. They are an industry favourite, especially for those looking to send themed email updates that remain consistent. They have a ton of features and their editor also integrates directly into their email sending platform, so you don’t need to export your HTML email design.

    PROS:

    • Translate your entire email in one-click
    • Hundreds of stunning templates to choose from and very easy to edit with your own content to create consistent email templates
    • Open marketplace to browse email templates submitted by others
    • Many templates for educators and PR professionals

    CONS:

    • More geared towards educators and schools despite wide applicability of use
    • Free plan only lets you send 200 monthly emails and create 3 newsletters
    • Newsletters are locked for 4 weeks after publishing before you can edit again on the free plan
    • They don’t accept PayPal at checkout if you decide to upgrade

    Overall we think Smore is a good option if you want a robust and very solid method of creating multilingual email newsletters, that are styled consistently and with professionalism. 

    Check them out here: https://www.smore.com

    BeeFree

    Best for: Widest variety of templates

    BeeFree is a fan favourite of ours. When we first started our newsletter back in 2019, we loved using this. You can start with a blank canvas to build your email from scratch or kickstart your design process with one of their ready-to-go email templates. It’s super easy to export your templates; just remember to host your images somewhere!

    PROS:

    • Literally thousands of templates you can pick from
    • Completely free to design and export your email designs in HTML
    • Integrates with Mailchimp, MailUp, Hubspot and more
    • Very easy drag and drop editor

    CONS:

    • Free plan won’t let you save your designs for future use/editing
    • You need to self host your own images on their free plan
    • You need a pro plan to access their entire catalogue of templates
    • Pricey if you also have to pay for an email sending service

    Overall we think BeeFree is something every newsletter should try out. If you’re just starting up and want a newsletter that looks catchy and quite easy to use, this is great. The only snag is that on their free plan you can’t save your designs, so if you need a one-off template (e.g. for transactional emails) this might be really good for you.

    Check them out here: https://beefree.io

    CoffeeCup

    Best for: Greatest design flexibility

    CoffeeCup is the only one on our list that is not a web based app. With this, you’ll need to download software onto your computer but in doing so, you’ll get some of the most powerful email editing tools at your fingertips, being able to edit your newsletter’s raw code. CoffeeCup Email Designer integrates beautifully in any email marketing platform and really does give you full control of your email design and content.

    PROS:

    • Great compatibility with your designs across devices, email clients and browsers
    • Ability to use web fonts so you can pick pretty much any font from Google Fonts to use in your newsletter
    • Grid based design feels like designing for the modern web, rather than an email
    • You can edit the raw HTML in app, set classes and IDs, giving you complete creative freedom

    CONS:

    • Limited free trial after which there’s a one time cost to pay to download the full licence (better than a subscription?)
    • Not a great availability of templates to start from
    • Complex set up and steep learning curve to understand their software
    • You need to self host any images you use

    This is a really great option if you’re looking for a super custom and bespoke email newsletter design and it can be very satisfying using this email designing software once you’ve mastered it. There are a number of tutorials however and it would definitely be worth trying out the free version before you commit to paying for the licence.

    Check them out here: https://www.coffeecup.com/email-designer

    ThemeForest

    Best for: Cost effectiveness

    ThemeForest is a digital marketplace that currently has over 1,900 email templates and email designs. You can explore items created by their global community of independent designers and developers and given how competitive their marketplace is, you can normally get a very good deal on some stunning email templates. Be careful however, some templates are just HTML email designs (requiring you to manually edit the HTML code) whereas others support importing the templates into a drag-and-drop builder.

    PROS: 

    • Almost 2,000 email templates for you to choose from
    • Very well priced and promotions are always running (e.g. a 30+ modular startup email template would cost $12)
    • Very beautifully designed email templates to fit every industry and purpose
    • Ability to import templates to your Mailchimp account (but check if you can actually edit the design in their drag-and-drop builder as not all templates support it)

    CONS:

    • If you have an issue, support can be slow from the template author
    • Not always clear what kind of template you’re getting (e.g. HTML design vs. importable drag-and-drop design)
    • Difficult set up if you’re new to email newsletters
    • You’ll need to self host your images if you end up using a HTML template

    ThemeForest is definitely something you should consider if you want an elegant design at a very knocked down price. Be sure to read the reviews before you make any purchases and also look to see what kind of support the seller/author is giving.

    Check them out here: https://themeforest.net/category/marketing/email-templates

    What does self hosted images mean?

    We’ve used the term self hosted images quite a lot in this article, so we thought it would be worth explaining the concept.

    When you send an email that contains an image, that actual image itself needs to be stored somewhere. This image is then retrieved from that source when the user opens their email. When you send an email using a platform like Mailchimp, any images you upload are stored by Mailchimp themselves.

    If however, like us, you want something that looks more elegant than one of MC’s standard templates, using one of the email design tools above is definitely for you. You will however need to make sure that the images you add to your newsletter design are saved ONLINE so that when the recipient receives your email, the image can be retrieved from an online source.

    At Letterwell we just have a WordPress instance that lets us upload images really easily. It also lets us crop/compress these images pretty quickly. You shouldn’t have any media files in your email larger than 500px or 500kb in size, otherwise it will decimate your subscribers inbox!

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