If Email’s Broken, Why Aren’t You Fixing It?

Call me naive, but I don’t understand why any company should still be experiencing poor email open and click through rates. Let’s cut to the chase: Successful email marketing consists of four parts: The List, the “From” line, the “Subject” line and the Creative. However, the most fascinating article I’ve read recently about how to design more effective emails comes from Red C, a direct and digital marketing communications agency based in the UK.

Call me naive, but I don’t understand why any company should still be experiencing poor email open and click through rates.

Let’s cut to the chase.

Successful email marketing consists of four parts:

  1. The List (don’t get me started on the importance of this!)
  2. The “From” line
  3. The “Subject” line
  4. The Creative

Any reader of Target Marketing, or student of direct marketing or email marketing, should know how important the list is—in fact, if you’re not spending any time on list strategy, don’t even bother executing an email campaign… period.

The “From” line can be easily tested. (One of our client’s gets better open results when emails come from their parent company, probably because the parent company has a stronger brand presence among the target audience.)

I’ve written plenty about “Subject” lines. (No more than 40 characters INCLUDING spaces… please!)

And there’s also lots of information out there about best practices when it comes to email creative. However, the most fascinating article I’ve read recently about how to design more effective emails comes from Red C, a direct and digital marketing communications agency based in the UK.

They recently completed an eye-tracking study. it doesn’t tell you what people say they look at, or plan to read, or what they like. Instead it tracks what people actually look at, in what order, and for how long.

The Red C report “10 Inbox Secrets devotes a single spread to each “A-ha!” finding, and provides examples and analytical insight into that key finding. My only recommendation (before you print the article) is to choose “landscape” as the type is pretty darn small when printed in “portrait” mode.

My biggest take-away?

The importance of the opening screen—readers typically focus their attention at the center of the page while it loads, and then orient their attention from there.

Red C recommends combining irregular shapes, graphics and text elements to sustain attention, and also offer recipients ‘pathways’ down the email via text or graphic devices. They suggest you AVOID the temptation to use a press ad structure and design in ‘screenfuls’ which are viewed too quickly and don’t provide enough visual encouragement to scroll down further.

I encourage anyone responsible for email marketing to study this report in detail. Eye-tracking studies don’t lie—they provide helpful insights to understand how readers actually consume emails.

Then don’t be afraid to challenge your creative team to re-think your current email design so you can increase message engagement and, ultimately, click through rates.

Author: Carolyn Goodman

A blog that challenges B-to-B marketers to learn, share, question, and focus on getting it right—the first time. Carolyn Goodman is President/Creative Director of Goodman Marketing Partners. An award-winning creative director, writer and in-demand speaker, Carolyn has spent her 30-year career helping both B-to-B and B-to-C clients cut through business challenges in order to deliver strategically sound, creatively brilliant marketing solutions that deliver on program objectives. To keep her mind sharp, Carolyn can be found most evenings in the boxing ring, practicing various combinations. You can find her at the Goodman Marketing website, on LinkedIn, or on Twitter @CarolynGoodman.

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