E-Newsletters Must Survive the Preview Pane

Subscribers of B2B newsletters tend to read email in the preview pane function of their email client. That’s one of the findings of the “Strategies for Addressing the Challenges of preview Panes and Disabled Images” study released by email marketing firm EmailLabs.

Fifty-two percent of B2B email newsletter readers say they always use the preview pane. A further 17 percent say they frequently use the preview pane to read email. The large number of readers viewing email in a small window stresses the need for the most important information in an email newsletter or campaign to appear “above-the-fold.” The preview area ranges from a narrow strip to a limited square display area, depending on the client.

“With so many people viewing the preview pane, you need to think of your email like you do a newspaper,” EmailLabs VP of Marketing Loren McDonald told ClickZ Stats. “Think about the above-the-fold, the preview area and design the rest of the email for people who are scrolling through and reading.”

A limited space must engage readers to continue. Forty-nine percent of email readers only look at the first few lines in the preview pane; only some decide to read further.

The study uses its findings to urge marketers to design newsletters and email campaigns with the preview pane in mind.

“People that are new to email marketing think that emails are just a mailed version of the Web site,” said McDonald. “They’re really a beacon, email is used to direct people to the content hosted on a Web site. The core function of an email is really to just notify them of what’s available.”

A second issue in the study is the prevalence of email clients that block images. Fifty-three percent of respondents don’t enable images to appear in their email client. Images that don’t render tarnish the appearance of a newsletter. They also hinder marketers’ ability to determine open rates. Some companies count a recipient’s click on a link as an open rate.

“We made the assumption that if someone clicks on a link in a text email, that determines they have read it,” said MCDonald.

The study calls for a revision in how newsletters and email campaigns are formatted. The most valuable real estate is determined to be the top left two to four inches.

The data are derived from a survey sent to EmailLabs’ Intevation Report newsletter subscribers.

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