Eye on E-Mail Newsletters

Longtime readers know I’ve always been a proponent of using email newsletters to establish an ongoing relationship with prospects and customers. A lot of you publish e-newsletters, which is great.

I review a wide range of newsletters. After receiving one last week, which practically made me feel dyslexic it was designed so poorly, I figured it’s time for a column on design basics to help you get the most mileage from your e-newsletter efforts.

Think back to the days of Advertising 101. You may recall that when you design a print ad, people’s eyes move in a fairly predictable pattern. If you design an ad with that in mind, the product is easier to read and comprehend. If your ad isn’t designed in this manner, it’s harder to read.

I asked one of my crack analysts if studies had been conducted on placement of content and ads on email newsletters based on eye movement. Luckily, he’d been involved in a fairly big test and was able to share some insight:

Most newsletters are set up in one of three ways:

  • Content broken up by ads or promos vertically
  • Content on the left, ads or promos on the right
  • Content on the right, ads or promos on the left

My analyst said that a side-by-side test (see diagrams below) revealed people’s eyes move in a “U.” They start near the upper left hand portion of an ad, travel down the left side, go over to the right side, and up.

Format “A” Format “B”
Header
Information
Header
Information
Ad or
Promo
Content Content Ad or
Promo
Ad or
Promo
Content Content Ad or
Promo
Ad or
Promo
Content Content Ad or
Promo
Ad or
Promo
Content Content Ad or
Promo

Using the “U” navigation findings:

  • Viewers of newsletter “A” started in the left side of the header area, went down the ads and promos, crossed over and went up to the content
  • Viewers of newsletter “B” started in the same place, but saw the content first and the ads/promos second

Which format do you think had more clicks, better conversions and higher ROI?

The Results

  • Format “A” had a 10 percent higher click rate on the ads and promos.
  • Format “A” however had a 20 percent lower conversion rate from clicks than “B.”
  • Format “A” had a 12 percent lower effective CPM than “B.”

If your newsletter is an “A,” changing the design may improve results. It’s certainly worth testing.

Lessons

These results may or may not hold true with your newsletter. If they do, a simple format change could make a big difference in profitability.

You’ll also want to consider your email marketing messages. See if placement of various elements changes performance. It should be a trivial exercise to test several email formats (same copy, same offer, same price) to see if you can eke out a higher rate of return.

Keep reading…

Related reading

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