How to make an email look great but work from a template – Air NZ

One of my previous post (Who has the best designed emails? Air NZ) focused on why Air New Zealand have the best designed emails, this one looks at the different elements that are reused or templated between the emails (ie the consistencies).

How often are Air NZ sending emails?

This is a really important question when you are using templates. If emails are sent daily (eick), then the email template needs to be very similar with just minor changes being made prior to sends. Unlike the other airlines (particularly Qantas and JetStar), Air NZ doesn’t spam their base (well not me anyway). Below is an overview of the amount of emails they have sent since December 2008 (total of 14 over 6 months – just over two per month). This means that at least Air NZ don’t need to compromise the design for frequency.

Air NZ emails sent

Air NZ emails sent - 15 December 2008 - 7 June 2009



Air NZ’s emails are divided into four sections:

  1. Header – each individually designed dependent on the offer/email theme (UNIQUE)
  2. Body – follows a similar format across all emails, but designed dependent on the email theme (PART TEMPLATED)
  3. CTA – exactly the same across all emails (TEMPLATED)
  4. Base (email preferences) – exactly the same across all emails (TEMPLATED)


Body – below are two examples of the email body and the similarities between them. The two examples show an international email (Aussie Airfares) vs a domestic email (Domestic Airfares). This section is divided into two key parts:

  • offer information
  • functional area where the subscriber can start their airfare search within the email.
Air NZ offers template (email body)

Air NZ offers template (email body) - International

Air NZ offers template (email body) - version 2

Air NZ offers template (email body) - Domestic


CTA – each of Air NZ’s emails have a really strong call to action and it is consistent across all emails. There are four options for the subscriber (see below) giveing them the option to be directed to the different business areas within Air NZ (holidays and airfares), as well as communication channels (web or phone).

Air NZ calls to action (CTA)

Air NZ calls to action (CTA)


Base (email preferences) – at the bottom of each of the Air NZ emails, your email preferences are displayed. I really like this feature because you can see which email address you have subscibed with (very beneficial if you have multiple addresses) and also can update the email format easily.

Air NZ email options (bottom of email)

Air NZ email options (bottom of email)



  1. Templates don’t need to mean matching luggage – you can make elements of an email the same without it looking boring.
  2. The design of the header (preview panel) is key – this is the most important part of the email and must be different and appealing to get the cut through. This shouldn’t be templated too much. Some elements should be the same (email not visible, safe list, mobile device, navigation), but there is leverage to be creative and push the design.
  3. Consistent CTA is madatory – rather than try and teach your subscriber how to use the email every time, keep some things consistent. Particularly the CTA element.
  4. Highlight email preferences – don’t hide the subscribers preferences, highlight them and show them what else they can be doing. It adds value.



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3 Responses to How to make an email look great but work from a template – Air NZ

  1. Jason Lewis says:

    As a sidepoint to the NZ emails, forms in HTML emails can be viewed as a security risk by some mail clients and could reduce the effectiveness of the emails CTA. It would be important to ensure add an additional CTA driver is incorporated into the design to ensure that some action can still take place.
    With regards to HTML emails being template driven, technologies such as XML can enforce design and branding rules while ensuring a consistent email output is always produced that is viable across all target platforms. They should also be quicker (and ultimately cheaper) to produce as a lot of the cross platform troubleshooting issues have already been accounted for.

  2. Paul says:

    Great ideas! Thanks

  3. badges says:

    I was wondering if you ever considered changing the layout of your website?
    Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.
    But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it
    better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only
    having one or two images. Maybe you could space it out better?

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