Easily create pro-level email headers for digital marketing. Use Shutterstock Editor’s powerful tools to customize an image with the right headline and CTA.

Email marketing is one of the major components of any digital marketing strategy. Reaching new and existing customers with a message that leads to sales is a top goal for any business, from big corporations to the self-employed entrepreneur.

For the small business or entrepreneur, this often means hiring a freelancer to design custom emails. But what about those occasions when there isn’t the budget or time to invest in outside work?

With this guide I’ll show you how to create your own email headers in Shutterstock Editor. You can customize one of our pre-made templates within our easy-to-use design app, or create your own design with the right messaging and images.

How to Create a Super Simple Email Header

Open Editor and navigate to the Preset Size (P) tab on the left-hand side. Scroll down and choose Email Header to select the standard 600×300 pixel size template. This will crop your canvas to these dimensions so it’s ready to populate.

Step One: Search For A Theme and Position Your Image

Now you’ll want to add images and text to your canvas.

Many email campaigns are built around a theme; a seasonal email might focus on spring cleaning. Let’s call this design “Spring Cleaning Sale” and use that term in the Search function in the upper left side of the tool bar (click on the magnifying glass icon.) Enter the keywords “spring cleaning sale” and your royalty-free image choices will populate below the search bar.

Two Easy Ways to Make High-Impact Email Headers for Digital Marketing – Search for Theme

We want to pick an image that will crop well in our preset narrow horizontal canvas orientation. I’m choosing the first image because it has horizontal text and a big blue sky background that will crop easily. Select the image and hit Replace Background.

Position it on the canvas and be sure to leave a little room for a button and, if you have any, some text at the bottom. To reposition, simply click and drag the image around in the template.

Two Easy Ways to Make High-Impact Email Headers for Digital Marketing – Crop Image

Step Two: Make a Call to Action Button

Now we can place our “Shop Now” button on the image. A button helps your viewer take action. It’s called a “Call To Action”, or CTA, for that very reason.

In the toolbar on the left side of the Editor app, click on the Shapes icon and choose a rectangle from the list. A rectangle shape will appear on the layout with bezier handles for scaling and sizing. I just need to make it big enough for a “Shop Now” message, but you can size it to your unique CTA by clicking and dragging these handles.

With the shape still selected, click on the circle under Fill color in the menu on the right side of the window. A palette of colors will appear. I’ll choose orange, as that’s a popular CTA color and will stand out on the blue background.

Two Easy Ways to Make High-Impact Email Headers for Digital Marketing – Make Call to Action

Back in the toolbar, click on the “A” icon for the Text tool. Choose “Add subheadline” for a medium-size text box to appear on the layout. Simply double-click to highlight the text and type “Shop Now.”

With the text box still active, you can customize your text. Click on Font to see a list of available typefaces you can use. Candal looks nice and bold, which is good for a CTA.

Like with the Shape tool, click on the circle underneath “Fill color” to choose white for the text. Now just center the text in the button and you have a CTA!

Two Easy Ways to Make High-Impact Email Headers for Digital Marketing – Call to Action Button

Step Three: Download and Save

In the top right of the window is a red Download button. Hit that and choose how you want to save your layout. I would recommend saving as a JPG at 300dpi. That way you can adjust sizing for whatever platform you use, or a coder can resize it when they build the email.

Just choose your save location and you’re on your way!

How to Create a Slightly More Complex Email Header

The same steps apply as above, but this time we’ll create our own text for the headline. With the same “Spring Cleaning sale” theme, we’ll select the elements to build a header from scratch.

Step One: Choose an Image

Just like above, select the Email Header preset size and use the Search tool in the Toolbar to find and image or background picture. Since we want to create our own headline and body text, we will look for a background image with no text in it. Search for “Spring” and some lovely images of pastel flowers and new grass appear.

Position it by clicking and dragging the image in the template. Allow room for a headline, a subheadline, and a button, or CTA.

Two Easy Ways to Make High-Impact Email Headers for Digital Marketing – Email Campaign Theme

Step Two: Add a Headline and Subheadline

Click on the Text tool from the toolbar, and choose Add Headline. That will drop a text box on the layout where you can type your headline. Sticking with the spring theme, we’ll type “Spring Cleaning Sale!”

Next we can use the type attributes controls on the right side panel to change the font and size. I used Alex Brush to match the spring/flowery theme at 68 pt. size. If the listed font sizes aren’t right for you, simply double click the number and enter a specific size you want.

Two Easy Ways to Make High-Impact Email Headers for Digital Marketing – Add Headline

I used a dark violet from the Fill color palette so it contrasts with the background. Now just position the type in the upper area of the layout and center.

To add a Subheadline, choose Add Subheadline from the Text tool menu. For this I added a message of urgency. Again, for this background, I chose a bold typeface, Candal set at 21 Font size, but in a lighter violet than the headline. Since it’s bolder, it doesn’t need to be so dark.

Two Easy Ways to Make High-Impact Email Headers for Digital Marketing – Add Subheadline

Step Three: Make a CTA

Just like the above section, we’ll add a CTA to get your customers to your site.

In the toolbar, click on the Shapes icon, and choose a rectangle from the list. Size it with the bezier handles and type “Shop Now.”

With the shape still selected, click on the white dot under Fill color in the menu on the right side of the window. For this I chose orange for the Fill color with a white stroke. The Stroke control is under the Fill control in the right-side panel. Outline thickness is at 36.

A Note About Message Hierarchy: The message hierarchy of this header places the CTA in between the headline and the copy. This makes the message read: sale > go to sale > message of urgency (in case you haven’t clicked yet.)

The higher in the layout you can place the CTA, the better. Getting a click with minimal actual interaction means higher click-through rates. Ultimately, the placement of your CTA depends upon the headline’s clarity and ability  to communicate the central message. For this example’s concise message, a CTA below the headline is perfectly fine. 

Step Four: Download and Save

In the top right of the window is a red Download button. Click that and choose how you want to save your layout. I recommend saving as a JPG at 300 dpi, especially for a custom designed email header.

Two Easy Ways to Make High-Impact Email Headers for Digital Marketing – Download Project

It’s best to save at the highest quality since you’ll likely need to fit it within anemail template, or have it coded in HTML. A low-res or stretched-looking email doesn’t communicate quality and will probably look like spam to most customers. Quality is the most effective message.

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