The choice of color in email campaigns

How the choice of color impacts engagement and conversations in email campaigns

The human eye can distinguish millions of colors. And to every color we can perceive, we link a certain feeling or emotion. Still, we often forget to use the psychological power of colors to our advantage in email marketing. It’s not always easy to figure out how to combine your color strategy with your brand guidelines. That's where A/B testing comes in. Here are the results of an A/B test we've conducted ourselves and some additional insights into the psychology of colors in email marketing.

Color use in our RAAK-tipmails

Because we at RAAK believe in the power of A/B testing, we thought, why not perform a test to get a better understanding about which color works best for generating clicks via our CTA buttons in our tipmails. After a testing period of 5 weeks, with three different colors (orange, purple and white with a black border) we had a clear winner: purple!

With the purple button, we achieved a click rate that is 34% higher than the click rate of the white button. Compared to the orange button, the click rate of the purple one is 2% higher. A change that brings a significant impact on the overall engagement rates of our emails if/when implemented permanently.

A simple set-up that gave us some new and valuable info about the response of our audience to color. Why not give such a test a try for your business as well?

How colors are linked to feelings and decision-making

Color psychology is a study that looks at how color palettes influence how people’s feelings and actions after seeing a specific color (combination). Colors can be perceived slightly differently from person to person. There are even geographical differences in interpreting colors (this table gives you an overview of these differences, based on location). For Europe, the main colors can be linked to these sets of emotions:

  • Black: a color associated with mourning, death, evil, formality, elegance, sophistication.
  • Blue: often used by financial institutions and businesses, blue exudes a sense of truth, responsibility, fidelity, serenity.
  • Green: the easiest color for your eyes to process, green is associated with wealth, relaxation, nature, fertility, confidence, jealousy, inexperience.
  • Orange: an appeal to aggressive impulses, orange is often used as a color for CTAs. Next to that, it’s also linked to purity, cleanliness and good.
  • Pink: marketed toward traditional shoppers, pink marks romance, femininity, flirtation, sensitivity and serenity.
  • Purple: sometimes associated with royalty, nobility and privilege, purple is both calming and soothing.
  • Red: projecting energy and a sense of urgency, red increases the heart rate. But be careful, as it can also be linked to cheapness.
  • Yellow: conveying optimism, youthfulness, happiness, joy and quality, yellow is also the color to grab attention or give a warning.

This is important to keep in mind when you’re designing for email, but also something to consider for your logo, brand guide and/or style, products and website.

How to impact engagement and conversation?

Now you have been introduced to basic color psychology, let’s see how color and email design can drive engagement and conversions. The combination of both color and design has the possibility to sway customer emotions and encourage them to go for your product or service (or in the best case, both).

Here’s where you can make a difference:

  • Brand awareness: Your brand is critical to your business, which means a recognisable logo and brand guide and/or style is too. Using well-chosen colors in your logo and marketing designs can increase consumer confidence, which can lead to an 80% increase in brand recognition. In some cases, brands even trademark unique colors. Examples of such trademark colors are Tiffany blue, T-Mobile magenta, Barbie pink and UPS brown.
  • Product marketing: In addition to your logo and brand style, the color of a product can be as important. Product color is the primary reason that 85% of shoppers purchase specific products, while visual appearance, in general, is the most important factor in their decisions. When preparing an email which is promoting a certain product that exists in multiple colors, make sure to check which color is the most popular amongst your audience to achieve the best result. If you’re not sure, try showing the full color range the product is available in.
  • Click rates: As we've said before, an A/B test can determine how the color of a button impacts the click rates in an email. When in doubt about which color has the best effect, just set up an A/B test for upcoming campaigns. We advise carrying out three A/B tests with the same different factor before drawing conclusions. Also make sure that there is only one item in your email that differs. If you’re testing the color of your CTA button, it’s wise to not try a new header format at the same time, for example.

With such a significant impact on buyer decisions, color psychology plays a crucial role in influencing your customers.

Best practices in email marketing

If you’re new to using color psychology, it might be difficult to see where to start. Color can be a helpful tool, but if used incorrectly, it can be jarring and unappealing to your audience.

Before you create your next email campaign, review these best practices for email:

  • Understand your audience: Culture, texture, and context play a role in how your audience perceives color. While purple represents royalty in many countries, it can represent death in Italy, for example. Gender is another area where color can make a difference. Purple is a popular color among women but is one of the least-liked colors by men.
  • Narrow down your palette: Depending on factors like your logo and other images, you may want to use more than one color. This can be a great way to grab attention, but it can also be overwhelming when u use too many shades in one email. A common approach is to use the 60:30:10 rule, where 60% of your palette is a single color, usually neutral, 30% is a complementary color and 10% is an accent color.
  • Test your email campaigns: Even the best email marketers need to test to see how their email campaigns perform. Use A/B testing to determine which colors generate the most clicks and which lead to the most conversions. If you segment your lists, you might find different click and conversion rates for different lists.

These color psychology best practices will help guide you through the process of creating your next email campaign.


Using color to influence your customers’ behaviors can be challenging. Fortunately, you can use some key takeaways to start using color psychology in email marketing. Determine the tone of voice of your email campaign before you narrow down a color palette. Use color to create brand awareness and build a link with your brand style. And finally, experiment with blocks of color, vibrant CTAs, and bold buttons in your email campaigns and A/B test them to see how your audience responds to them.

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Posted on
Aug 17, 2020