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Blog post By Paula Chiocchi on 2021-12-22

The days are shorter and the sun sets earlier. The northern hemisphere has entered “dark mode” – as have many of your emails. The use of dark mode settings—a light-on-dark color scheme, as compared to traditional dark text on a light background—has been increasing in recent years. It’s been said to lessen eye fatigue, help users focus on their work, and the reduced light can potentially extend battery life. But whatever the reason for choosing a dark mode setting on a mobile or desktop device, it’s something marketers should be aware of—because it changes the way users view digital marketing content, including email. Here are some of the top things to keep in mind.


The use of dark mode is increasing.

While dark mode has been used by computer programmers and other tech-savvy individuals for decades, it’s only recently been more widely adopted now that it’s part of most computer and mobile device settings. Dark mode has been trending upward in recent years for mobile phone display, word processing, web browsing and email. And marketers are taking note. A recent survey conducted by Pathwire, Mailjet, and Ascend2 indicates that 44% of email marketers consider dark mode during production and 28% say they plan to start.


It may change how your email looks—or not.

If the thought of your emails appearing with light text on a dark background—when you did not design it that way—makes your head hurt, you should know that not all emails will be affected. The Litmus “Ultimate Guide to Dark Mode for Email Marketers” breaks down the three ways providers generally handle emails for users in a dark mode setting: no color changes, partial color invert or full color invert.


The first method leaves emails alone, reserving the dark mode setting for the email inbox view and composition, but keeping HTML emails as they were intended ( typically inverting plain text emails only). A partial color invert targets light colors only, inverting them for their dark counterparts, while the full color invert targets all components of an email, inverting the colors regardless of their tone.


Litmus writes, “So if you already designed your emails to have a dark theme, this scheme will ironically force them to become light.” This inconsistency across providers could be cause for an even bigger headache when you’re trying to design emails that work for all. 


Implement a dark mode check into your email marketing workflow.

The Mailjet survey noted that 58% of respondents check email in dark mode before sending, a good step to catching design issues that may not be apparent in a traditional light mode setting. It’s similar to checking for mobile optimization. Do you remember some of the poorly designed emails you received when mobile email design was still in its early stages? Emails that, when you pulled them up on your phone, would have fonts and images either way too large or way too small. We, as email marketers, have come a long way. And now it’s time to set up the same quality control checks for dark mode.


When in doubt, keep it simple.

The survey results also include tips to optimize your campaigns for users. One of the easiest to apply is this: Keep email designs simple. Especially when it comes to full color inversions, keeping colors and designs simple, and using dark-mode-friendly templates, can avoid some unsightly mishaps. 


A lot of effort goes into creating and planning an email campaign—content strategy, copywriting, image selection, design, building your audience. It’d be a shame to go to all that work—not to mention the financial resources involved—for a poorly delivered experience.


At the same time, by keeping these design issues in mind and delivering dark-mode optimized emails, you could positively set yourself apart from the competition and better influence those prospects.


Do you consider dark mode when planning email marketing?


Outward Media’s proven data cleansing services and targeted, accurate B2B data can enable you to achieve better digital marketing ROI and, ultimately, convert more prospects into customers. Go here to find out about leveraging our SMB and medical market data on the LiveRamp Data Marketplace, where 95% of our email data matches the identity graph for use with display ad marketing.


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