Optimizing Your Eblast

According to the 2009 Marketing Sherpa Email Benchmark Guide, 76% of consumers first view their email in the preview mode before deciding to engage in it further. This number also reflects the percentage of readers that use the horizontal preview mode rather than the vertical preview mode. Horizontal preview mode is where your emails are listed on the top and the preview window is at the bottom of your list of emails (as opposed to the right hand side of your Outlook Inbox).

Given this high percentage of consumers viewing your eblasts in the horizontal preview mode first, it is crucial that you optimize the design of your eblasts to make it more visible. The small amount of real estate that the preview mode offers increases the urgency of putting the important bits of information at the top of the eblast. Similar to how you need to have the objectives of your website appear “above the fold”.

Having said that, keep in mind that it is nearly impossible to have your eblast display optimally in all email clients. However, here are some “Don’t” that you need to be aware of when designing your eblasts for optimal view.

1)                  Don’t design your eblast to look like your website

Avoid the temptation to make your eblast look like your website. Your eblast, essentially is an ad and your website is not. Besides some of the brand elements of your website, like colors and logo, don’t imitate the website when designing your eblast.

2)                  Don’t put your logo at the top of the design

No, that is not a typo. Really, don’t put your logo at the top of your eblast. Real estate is too precious to waste on your logo. Readers care about what your offer is, not what your logo looks like. If your offer is enticing enough, they will look to see who the offer is from. Your logo, contact information can all be at the bottom of the eblast. Again, an eblast is essentially an ad-focus on the offer. How often have you seen an ad for Cartier, Bugati, or TaylorMade with their big honkin’ logo at the top of the page?

3)                  Don’t put non-essential text at the top of the design
The Program Business email template comes with the administrative text, such as unsubscribe, social media channels, so there’s no need for you to add these to your eblast. If you are sending eblasts through some other vendor, remember that only about 5% of readers take action on these items, so don’t emphasize these. You need to have them, so leave them at the bottom.

4)                  Don’t use fancy HTMl code
I will have a more detailed blog post about this soon, but for now suffice it to say that many eblasts that I don’t code/program in-house have code that are simply R rated for eblasts standards. R for ridiculous! I’m a designer and I see that value of CSS (sorry for the geeky language there-show this section to your designer/developer) and and all that good stuff, but it just doesn’t fly for eblasts. If your eblast designer is well versed in HTML and website coding, he/she is probably not coding your eblast correctly. Coding an eblast requires a whole different mind-set that fundamentally is not PC in the website world these days. Does your eblast designer understand what I mean by this? They should, otherwise they aren’t coding your ebalst correctly. (Anticipating a barrage of hate mail from fellow designers-sorry guys, but eblast is a whole different ball game).

5)                  Don’t have more than one CTA (Call to Action)
I get these eblasts, hundreds of them over a period of a week, in which there are 2, 3, sometimes even 3 or more Call to Actions! Again, remember, your eblast is essentially an ad. I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record…or should I say, a skipped CD (or what is the equivalent of that these days-something with an iPod/iPhone/iSomethingorother?), but I ‘m amazed to see the number of Agencies that fail to realize that an eblast is meant to promote one idea. If you are promoting Worker’s Comp, your call to action should reflect that. Don’t have another big button, or even a small button that says, “Visit Our Website”. Do you want your prospect to visit the home page of your website and not know what to do on it, or do you want them to go directly to the landing page dedicated to Worker’s Comp and contact you because they like your value proposition?

Ok, now here are a couple of “Dos”, especially in regards to your CTA (Call to Action)

1)                  Test the position of your CTA
The placement of your CTA could mean a difference between a conversion and “Send to Trash” action. Test. Test. Test. Don’t assume that placing the CTA at the top of the page is going to give you more clicks than putting it at the end of your ad. Test it. If you are a program business client you know we send you awesome reports of your eblasts. Read the reports. How many clicked on the CTA? Where was the CTA in your eblast? Ok, now the next time you send your eblast make sure your CTA is placed somewhere else. How will this impact the open and click rate? TEST! Don’t assume.

2)                  Test different design elements for your CTA
Test different colors. Test different buttons. Test the copy in your CTA. Research has shown a  minor tweak in your CTA can make a big difference in your CTR (click through rate).

3)                  Test your headline/subject line
Test the copy of your CTA. Copy is king. I’m a designer first and marketing copywriter second and want to say design is king, but really, the copy/headline in your ad is king. If your ad design is half way decent, your readers are going to read the headline. How strong is your headline? More on this in the next post, but keep in mind your headline is very, very important because an eblast is essentially…(if you’ve been paying attention you should be able to fill in the blanks).

So, there you have it. Respect your eblast for it’s individuality. It’s not a website, it’s not a newsletter, it’s an ad. Treat it like it is. Test. Optimize. Test. Optimize again. Test again.