Friday, April 15
A slimmer email can lead to healthier results in 2009...
Many people enter into the new year with a personal goal of living a healthier lifestyle and shedding the unwanted pounds brought on by another season of holiday excess. The same commitment should also be applied to the messages being sent to your subscribers-messages that may have slowly packed on the pounds right under your nose without being noticed.
How It Happened
Emails tend to start off with very streamlined designs, making them easy to use and less likely to run into display errors in different email clients. However, as marketers reach a level of comfort with email marketing, and quality content continues to be developed, more and more of that content begins to find its way into their email communications.
It can start with something as simple as a sidebar, or additional space for images. As the months go on, additional content accumulates on your email template, and soon it hardly resembles the streamlined communication vehicle it once was.
Think this might be the case with your own email? Ask yourself a few questions:
What am I trying to communicate?
Trying to communicate more than two or three main ideas in an email is difficult in light of how quickly most email recipients sift through their inboxes. Identify the one idea, if you could only choose one, that you would want recipients to take away from your email-is it the first thing you notice on your test message? If not, consider moving or eliminating excess content.
Am I overloading?
Giving visitors to your website a variety of options is fine, but an excessive number of links and linked images on an email can make it difficult and frustrating to engage with. Many marketers rely on emails to drive traffic to their sites, but the amount of clicks an email receives has much less to do with the number of available links than the relevance of those links. Also, too many links on an email increases the chances of frustrating site visitors who wait for a page to load only to realize they clicked on the wrong link in your message-an easy mistake to make with several links in close proximity.
Where can I make changes?
Some content on your emails will be non-negotiable, but be mindful of including any non-essential elements. For example, a large graphic about an event could have a negative impact if it's the first thing a recipient sees. In this case, the recipient may believe the event is the focus of the message-even if that is not the case-and could abandon the message due to lack of interest in the event. Scaling the graphic down, or simply using stylized text to promote it, would slim down the message and make sure the recipients' focus is on your products, editorial, or whatever else you consider to be the key takeaway (see #1 above).
One common email element not likely to be eliminated by any marketer is advertising space, but there is no greater contributor to a bloated-looking email than a slew of rotating banner ads. At the very least make sure clearly defined borders separate advertising from your own content, and avoid using any unnecessary images of your own, which can contribute to the cramped appearance.
Less is more
The tendency of emails to become inflated stems from marketers' desire to communicate as much information as possible with their subscribers. While this desire is perfectly understandable, it does not always take into account the user-experience of those who will be receiving the messages.
It's a good thing to have more ideas than can fit onto one email-for your subscribers' sake, try not to overload your messages. One idea on an email can still get great results, but only if your recipients can find it.