Why Dark Mode Emails Are Worth The Extra Investment

Why Dark Mode Emails Are Worth The Extra Investment

Why Dark Mode Emails Are Worth The Extra Investment

Kasey Steinbrinck

Content Marketing Manager - Email on Acid

26 Oct 2020

Dark mode has plenty of email marketers feeling a little lost. On one hand, it’s a rising digital trend you can’t ignore. On the other hand, it complicates the process of designing, developing, and testing emails even more. The biggest problem is that email clients are inconsistent in the ways they render emails in dark mode.

Many clients automatically invert colors when someone is using dark mode – but not all of them. Apple Mail will only do so if there’s a transparent background. Other clients force emails into dark mode only if they aren’t already dark. You can try using the CSS query @media (prefers-color-scheme) to help emails display as intended, but that only works with certain clients and may depend on the operating system. Gmail ignores the query across the board.

Getting emails to render correctly on all clients and devices is already a difficult job. Throw dark mode into the mix and it’s enough to make you beg for mercy. Is it worth the extra time and effort to design dark mode emails? We think so.

Here are a few reasons why dark mode email design is a meaningful investment:

Dark mode is reaching the mainstream

User interfaces with a dark mode option are no longer on the fringe of user experience (UX) design. In 2019 and 2020, we saw dark mode take the digital world by storm. It seemed like every week a new application was announcing dark mode’s arrival. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have it for Android and iOS. Google rolled out dark mode for Docs, Sheets, Slides, Photos, and recently Maps. Slack has a dark mode setting, and so do YouTube, Reddit, and even Wikipedia. The list goes on. Email clients have been following suit, and while it still feels fresh, dark mode will soon be just another normal part of our digital lives.

Programmers, developers, and anyone who works with a lot of code have always appreciated the benefits of dark mode. In the technology adoption lifecycle, they are the Innovators. Early Adopters have had plenty of time to play around with dark mode on their favorite apps. So, it’s safe to say that dark mode adoption has “crossed the chasm” and is working its way through the mainstream market. Sure, there are still some kinks to work out when it comes to dark mode emails, but wouldn’t you rather be ahead of the curve?

Dark mode emails show empathy for certain people

 Fans of dark mode are quick to sing its praises: 

·  It’s easier on the eyes.

·  It cuts down on exposure to blue light.

·  It saves battery power.

·  It looks so much cooler!

The jury is still out on how accurate some of those claims are, and it often comes down to personal preference. However, dark mode is definitely beneficial to certain people. For example, people who suffer from photophobia can get migraines from staring at bright screens, and dark mode can help. The millions of people around the world who deal with sleep disorders may also benefit from reduced blue light exposure. In some cases, inverting colors helps make things more readable for people with low vision.

Dark mode certainly isn’t an end-all solution for accessibility. If you aren’t testing every email, it may even cause accessibility issues. The bottom line is that it does help certain people, while others simply prefer dark mode’s appearance. Taking the time to design emails for dark mode shows you have empathy for all your subscribers and want to make sure everyone gets the visual experience they expect.


Designing for dark mode gives you a competitive advantage 

Do you think of your brand as being cutting edge? Do you want to be viewed as relevant and on-trend? Do you have a tech-savvy audience or get lots of opens in the evening hours? Those are all good reasons to invest in dark mode email design. But, the most compelling reason is that doing so could give you an advantage over competitors in your target market’s email inboxes.

If your competitors aren’t even considering dark mode, there’s no doubt that many of their emails aren’t displaying as intended. That means important information, images, and calls-to-action are invisible to a percentage of their lists. Email marketers who do invest time and resources into designing for dark mode are going to reach more people and convert them into customers. It’s that simple. Plus, if you take the time to focus on dark mode now, you’ll be ahead of the game while your competitors are playing catch-up.


Dark mode emails: To hack or not to hack?

Rather than optimizing for dark mode or creating versions of emails for both dark and light modes, some developers try to hack their way to a solution. They want to override the interface and prevent it from changing the email’s color scheme. The problem is, it won’t always work, and the frustrations will continue. Email on Acid’s lead email developer, Ed Ball, believes it’s better to accept the rise of dark mode and design for it. 

“If the reader has their device in dark mode, they're going to want their emails in dark mode, too,” he says. “So, if you alter the email, you're actually deviating from what the reader wants to see. Designing emails for dark mode is the best way to go, in my opinion.” Give the people what they want! That’s good advice for businesses and email marketers alike.

Of course, it doesn’t do much to address the challenges we face. That’s why Email on Acid is teaming up with Action Rocket for a Dark Mode Twitter Chat on October 28, at 11:00am EST/3 pm UTC / 17:00pm BST. We’ll be sharing tips and asking questions so the email community can weigh in on how to handle dark mode designs. Follow Action Rocket and Email on Acid on Twitter and use the hashtag #DarkModeChat to join the discussion!




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