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

We’ve taken a look at five of our favorite email template design 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 favorite web app to design stunningly gorgeous email newsletter campaigns. It’s what we at Letterwell use to create our 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 ten 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 want something that looks professional and is easy to build, Designmodo is a good choice if you can afford it.

    Check Designmodo Postcards 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 favorite, 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:

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

    CONS:

    • Geared more 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
    • If you decide to upgrade, they don’t accept PayPal at checkout

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

    Check Smore Newsletters out here: https://www.smore.com

    BeeFree

    Best for: Widest variety of templates

    BeeFree is a fan favorite 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:

    • Thousands of templates to pick from
    • Completely free to design and export 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. BeeFree is great if you’re just starting out and want a newsletter which looks catchy and easy to use. 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 BeeFree out here: https://beefree.io

    CoffeeCup

    Best for: Greatest design flexibility

    CoffeeCup is the only tool on our list which is not a web-based app. With CoffeeCup, you will need to download software onto your computer, but you’ll get some of the most powerful email editing tools at your fingertips, as it allows you to edit your newsletter’s raw code. CoffeeCup Email Designer integrates beautifully in any email marketing platform and gives 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 to use almost any font from Google Fonts in your newsletter
    • Grid based design feels like designing for the modern web, rather than an email
    • Gives complete creative freedom by allowing you to edit the raw HTML in-app and set classes and IDs

    CONS:

    • Limited-time free trial, followed by a one-time purchase to download the full license (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 great option if you’re looking for a custom and bespoke email newsletter design. Once you’ve mastered CoffeeCup, it is also quite satisfying to use this particular software. There are many online tutorials, but it is worth trying out the free version before committing to pay for the license.

    Check CoffeeCup 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 designs. You can explore items created by their global community of independent designers and developers. Given how competitive their marketplace is, you can get an exceptional deal on stunning email templates. However, be careful, as some templates only support HTML email designs (requiring you to manually edit the HTML code). Other templates support importing them into a drag-and-drop builder.

    PROS: 

    • Almost 2,000 email templates for you to choose from
    • Well priced and always running promotions (e.g., a 30+ modular startup email template would cost $12)
    • Beautifully designed email templates to fit every industry and purpose
    • Ability to import templates to your Mailchimp account (but check if you can 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 an HTML template

    ThemeForest is definitely something you should consider if you want an elegant design at an affordable 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 ThemeForest out here: https://themeforest.net/category/marketing/email-templates

    What do self-hosted images mean?

    We’ve used the term self-hosted images many times in this article, so we think it’s 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 like us, you want something more elegant than one of MC’s standard templates, using one of the email design tools above is definitely for you. However, you will need to make sure that 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 have a WordPress instance that lets us upload images easily. It also lets us crop/ compress these images quickly. You shouldn’t have any media files in your email larger than 500px or 500kb in size. Otherwise, it will decimate your subscribers’ inboxes!

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