Embracing the Dark (Mode) for Email

June 22, 2021 Alexander Health

What is it and why is it important?

When it comes to email design, user experience drives many creative decisions. Everything from fonts and color palettes to content hierarchy needs to be considered in order to craft meaningful interactions with your brand. Embracing an operating system’s dark mode capabilities is yet another.

Dark mode is a high contrast setting that reduces light output from the screen. It inverts a traditional design aesthetic of dark-on-light colors to a dark background with light text elements.

Dark mode is trending.

82.7% of users are engaging from their device’s dark mode. This makes dark mode one of the biggest trends in digital design. It’s application to email is no exception. As you’ll see in the chart below, most email clients now support it, for both desktop and mobile platforms.

Dark mode email client support (as of July 2020)

While dark mode offers several advantages for the end user, it presents some challenges for email marketers. Understanding and designing an HTML email with them in mind can help.

  • Dark graphics and text can disappear
  • Low contrast colors can be hard to read
  • Dark mode may not work with existing brand styles

Dark mode for email is increasing.

In a 2020 Litmus survey, 78% of marketers said email is important to their company’s overall success. 94% say email is among their top 3 most effective marketing channels. It’s critical, then, to make sure you’re factoring in as many user preferences as possible when creating an email marketing strategy. Dark mode continues to be a big one.

Testing every email before it’s deployed is crucial to a campaign’s success. Alexander Health uses Email on Acid as our pre-deployment platform. Email on Acid, similar to tools like Litmus and PutsMail, allows us to see how your email will look in each client before it’s deployed, in both dark and light modes.

This infographic from Email on Acid illustrates a few key insights to dark mode as it relates to email.

Infographic with trends and tips for working with dark mode emails

Is there a stroke around your dark logo so it’s legible in both dark and light modes? Do your images have a transparent background, so they blend with the body copy? Have you desaturated colors on dark backgrounds? These, among other things, are important considerations for your dark-mode emails.

"One of the biggest challenges in email marketing is knowing how to manage the differences in which various email clients render campaigns."

— John Thies, Email on Acid CEO

Email clients are constantly changing. By testing every email, we’re able to stay on top of this evolving landscape to ensure your emails look great everywhere, whether in dark or light modes.

Ultimately, whether an end user opts for dark or light mode largely comes down to personal preference. By optimizing your emails for both experiences, you’re putting the user in control. That may lead to greater engagement.

For more tips on designing for dark mode, we’ve found these articles to offer great suggestions:

Design Trend: Designing for Dark Mode

Dark Mode Design: Tips for Creating Dark Theme Websites and Apps

Dark Mode in HTML Email

It's time to get a partner that will help you embrace the dark.

When your email campaign needs to work seamlessly in both dark and light modes, you need a partner who makes testing every email a priority. Discover a new kind of partner who has the knowledge and expertise to help you succeed.

© 2022 Alexander Health
Alexander Health is a division of