Dark mode for email

Dark mode: A marketer’s nightmare?

Michael Stephan, Digital Campaign Specialist – 4th February 2020

For those of us who code and design emails, there’ll always be challenges out of left field. And Dark Mode is the latest.

This reversed colour scheme was one of the hottest design trends of 2019 and looks set to continue in 2020. So if you’re a business or brand who relates to your customers through digital CRM, I think it’s important to understand how it affects your comms – and if there’s anything you can do about it.

What is Dark Mode?

Dark Mode is a feature that lets users switch their app or desktop Inbox from white to black. While some find it easier on the eyes, others choose it to save power or just because it looks cool. But of course, this can affect the way their emails appear and plays havoc with our carefully crafted work.

They’ll either become partly inverted so light backgrounds are dark, or completely inverted, so all the colours of coded elements are affected. There goes your brand consistency! Here are some examples of the different ways Dark Mode affects emails, depending which provider your customers use.

Dark mode examples

What can we do?

I wish I could say there was a one size fits all solution. There are steps to take, like testing the rendering of background images to make sure text or CTA buttons stand out. Choosing light type colours or white, rather than dark text can also help. But the tricky thing is, the likes of Gmail, Outlook, iOS and Apple don’t all allow Dark Mode targeting and have built-in settings that they don’t want developers to override. This makes it very difficult to tailor emails accordingly.

The customer is always right

So, while Microsoft, Google and Apple continue to roll out their updates, all we in the industry can do is optimise our logos and images, keep testing and monitoring new developments.

The bottom line is, we can’t control if people choose Dark Mode or not. But it’s a good reminder, that ultimately, it’s always our customers who make the choice.

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