The Science of Color in eCommerce Email Marketing – Weekly Spotlight

Eradium ecommerce email-marketing blog 9 the science of color

The Science of Color in eCommerce Email Marketing – Weekly Spotlight

Would you buy or not? The science of color in eCommerce

This article is from the weekly series of posts about eCommerce Email Marketing Best Practices.

In this eCommerce Email Marketing: The Science of Color – weekly spotlight we review examples of email campaigns from La Senza, Indigo, and Bench.

Color plays a very important role in human behavior and affects our actions greatly whether we realize that or not. Using specific colors for marketing will have a direct impact on the buying patterns of shoppers.

Up to 90% of shoppers make their decisions about buying a product based on color alone, and 50% will not engage with the brand if there is no connection with brand colors. (1)

Your brand color is usually long established and does not change, but each promotion can have its unique color scheme to appeal to the specific audience.

This a scientific approach and does not guarantee results every time but based on many experiments color is not just pretty, it has one of the biggest impacts on human actions.

Color impacts your subconscious mind and awakens certain feelings when viewed. Your reaction could be based on your previous experiences or simply based on your demographic group trends.

Attempts to use multiple color combinations to appeal to many audiences do not work. Such approach is alienating your target audiences as all of them will struggle to connect with the message.

There are preferred colors for promotions that target different audiences: females or males young or mature, price sensitive or luxury buyers. (2)



All emails will be rated from 1* to 5*, where 1 means poor and 5 is great.

We review on a weekly basis:


  1. Colors – colors have good contrast, consistent
  2. Typography – fonts have readable size, clear titles
  3. Images – clear, visible, easy to understand
  4. Formatting – blocks follow each other in an easy to navigate pattern
  5. Mobile Optimized – all elements are visible and formatted correctly on the mobile phone


  1. Subject line – signals urgency and clear main offer that will be found inside the email
  2. Clear offer – one main offer with clear call to action
  3. Urgency to purchase – time, stock, shipping that motivates the buyer to purchase
  4. Product highlights – clear description of the products to evoke the interest of the reader

La Senza

Since its first store opened in 1990, the company has grown to include more than 300 stores in Canada. A further 487 stores under the La Senza brand operate in 45 other countries worldwide via licensing, franchise, and cooperation agreements. In 2006 La Senza was purchased by Limited Brands of Columbus, Ohio for $628 million in cash.

La Senza’s products focus on lingerie and nightwear but also include loungewear, daywear, and accessories. The concept is similar to that of Victoria’s Secret, which is also owned by the Limited Brands corporation.

Email 1: La Senza

Subject Line: EXTENDED ONE DAY! 40% OFF So Many Sexy Items!‏

Eradium ecommerce email-marketing blog 9 the science of color LaStenza


  1. Colors: 2*– colors are too overwhelming, they do not look cohesive, just a bunch of random colors thrown in. Looks like a very unprofessional and low-cost brand.
  2. Fonts: 3* – Thin yellow font and thin white font on black backgrounds is extremely hard to read. The combination of the dark background color with small fonts is not a good practice.
  3. Images: 1*– They are almost nonexistent, there is a picture of some bras through in randomly, without proper or attractive display
  4. Formatting: 3* – The email has defined areas for main and secondary promotions that follow each other in separate blocks
  5. Mobile Optimized: 3*–The layout flows into 1 column nicely. However, the dark and heavy colors make text areas difficult to read on the phone.


  1. Subject line: 3* – Very clearly defined, screams urgency and a big discount which will generate high open rates. The promotion is for the in-store purchase only and will not generate click conversion to measure the success.
  2. Clear offer: 2* – There are 2 main offers. The main area is a call to action to the in-store promotion and the smaller banner is the online promo.
  3. Urgency to purchase: 4* – There is a very clear statement about the offer ending, so it creates the urgency to make a purchase before it expires
  4. Product highlights: 2* – There is no a product showcase in this email, there are no proper product images or any other product related information. The only reference is a small image of some random bras which are impossible to tell what product line they are.

Overall rating: 2.5*


This email appears as someone took a ready-made template and just put in some really ugly content. The colors used are extremely unappealing and do not evoke any desire for a purchase. The main offer is a store promotion for which hopefully there is a measurement in place to measure the effectiveness of online campaigns and their effect on in-store sales.

For a store that sales sexy lingerie at a premium price is a complete bust. Someone in the marketing department probably thought it was a campaign for a Kmart brand.


The company was founded in 1996 by CEO Heather Reisman, wife of Gerry Schwartz, majority owner and CEO of Onex Corporation.

The company’s first big box bookstore, initially called “Indigo Books, Music & More”, was opened in Burlington, Ontario on September 4, 1997. With the aid of Onex Corporation, Indigo bought Chapters, their largest Canadian competitor, in 2001 and continues to operate many stores under the Chapters banner. Indigo also gained the ownership of the Coles chain of small-format bookstores, which was also owned by Chapters.

Indigo closed three high-profile stores in Toronto in the spring of 2014, including the “World’s Biggest Bookstore”, which it acquired when it bought Chapters. In June 2014, Reisman said the company was headed into a new phase, selling a much higher percentage of non-book items.

Email 2: Indigo

Subject Line: ENDS TONIGHT! 20% Off Almost Everything Online.‏

Desktop View

Eradium ecommerce email-marketing blog 9 the science of color Indigo

Mobile View

Eradium ecommerce email-marketing blog 9 the science of color Indigo - Mobile


  1. Colors: 2*-Vey plain with no use of color to highlight information or products. The only color used in the email is the brand color.
  2. Fonts: 3*– The same purple color used as the main fronts in the email, the entire email appears as one white blurb with some purple
  3. Images: 3*– Generic and plain, there is no focus on a specific product line, just generic images on a white background
  4. Formatting: 3*-the email appears in checkered pattern on a desktop and visible at one glance
  5. Mobile Optimized: 1 *–does not display at all unless download images are clicked (see screen shot)


  1. Subject line: 4* Creates major urgency to open and shop
  2. Clear offer: 4* –There is a very clear offer of a discount being offered
  3. Urgency to purchase: 5* -Extremely urgent with using “ends tonight”
  4. Product highlights: 2* –Even if someone wanted to buy the product shown in the image they would not be able to buy since there is not information about that particular product. The product images link to the category pages instead of the product detailed pages.

 Overall rating: 3*


It is disappointing to see that there are no colors being used at all in this email. It is an extremely boring email. There is overuse of the brand color that seems to appear everywhere and there is no clear visual focus to draw attention to.

The email mobile display is extremely underwhelming. Using 1 big image is extremely unpractical. The image is too big and does not load fast enough on a mobile device.

A great offer lost before it even blossomed, if I cannot see your offer on my phone there will not be a sale.


The brand began in 1989 creating graphic t-shirt designs influenced by skateboarding. Over the years, Bench. has evolved into a global lifestyle brand. And now sells not only menswear but womenswear – including denim, trousers, sweats, hoodies, belts, bags, skirts and dresses.

The brand’s Manchester roots can be seen in the montage of the Manchester skyline which is used as a design on both their messenger bags and price tags It used to be owned by Superdry.

Email 3: Bench

Subject Line: ‏ Our Favourite Jackets Starting at $79 | In-Store & Online‏

Eradium ecommerce email-marketing blog 9 the science of color Bench


  1. Colors: 3*-There is an attempt to have a dominant color in the email that does provide unity and flow. However, the color chosen is pretty dull and does not stand out.
  2. Fonts: 3* – It is not easily readable due to its irregular shape
  3. Images: 3* -Plain, the products shown are not very visible and appear gloomy
  4. Formatting: 4* – Feels a bit awkward on the desktop but is a pretty creative approach to showcase information
  5. Mobile Optimized: 4* – The email looks great on the phone in terms of formatting. The combination of the different shapes creates a single nice flow and helps in visual separation of each promo section.


  1. Subject line: 3* – Not sure that a subject line of jackets in the summer is the best call to action. It is very specific and will not have a high open rate but should have a higher than average click trough rate since the people that open the email are in the market for jackets.
  2. Clear offer: 3* – there three main offers in the email. They all visually shown and are clearly defined in their blocks
  3. Urgency to purchase: 3*-there is no clear end date, the only mention of urgency is “limited time” offer
  4. Product highlights: 2* – There is no information about the products shown in the email; there is no description, name or any indication on how can we purchase the product.

 Overall rating: 3.1


This email is trying to sell jackets in the summer using fall colors; it is a sure way to discourage shoppers.

Hiding the big discount offer at the bottom will not encourage the desired results. Most people will not even know that that offers excited unless they opened the email and scrolled all the way to the bottom. The subject line should at least mention the 30%.

When designing promotions always test how they make you feel and if you were to receive this email would you act? I am afraid the answer would be “Not”.

Just for Fun

It is interesting to receive emails from the same company on a regular basis. Great email one week could become completely terrible the next. We have reviewed Victoria Secret and it got great marks. (

In this example below the author did not decide which promo to use: Free Shipping over $100 or over $25.  That is quite a difference!  This makes the recipients confused. Talk about clear messaging.

Eradium ecommerce email-marketing blog 9 the science of color Victoria Secret


Here are 2 examples of completely different products and what works best for each case

Some basic examples:

If you are selling an expensive male watch: (3,4)

Use these colors:

Black and Blue-masculine and strong

Do not use these colors:

Do not use purple or yellow. Men hate purple and yellow screams cheap.

If you are selling baby shampoo:

You would like to appeal to moms, who are budget shoppers and looking for a deal

Use these colors:

Use yellow, blue and green; females prefer those colors and yellow identifies with value. Very similar colors used on Johnson baby shampoo that was no coincidence

Do not use these colors:

Black, Red or orange

As we see using popular color of the season will not drive click-throughs and increase your sales. As a marketer you need to get inside the mind of your audience and the product you are trying to promote in order to establish the winning color combination.

Here is one more personal note. I would like to see less of these colors as I read most of my emails on my phone:

  • Black
  • Brown
  • Gray

They are just too hard to read on the phone! Unfortunately color combinations that may work well in print advertising could be completely terrible on a computer or on a phone screen even with retina display.Marketers please spend some time on understating the science of colors and using properly for audiences and you’re trying to reach. There is science to color.

Marketers please spend some time on understating the science of colors and using properly for audiences and you’re trying to reach. There is science to color.

Anna Battrick

Anna Battrick is Eradium’s Director of Ecommerce Services, has an extensive background in retail marketing and project management. With over 10 years of managing complex projects from inception to completion while always maintaining “it can be done” spirit. The world of retail is not only a professional interest but also a personal hobby which lets Anna see the other side of retail, from a shopper perspective. This helps create engaging marketing programs that speak personally to the shoppers interests and engage them in a conversation.

To start a dialog about your next eCommerce initiative