The Message at the Top of Your Email Gets it Read (or Not)

A note from the Deal­er Digest Dai­ly Edi­tors about why these email com­po­si­tion tips work, and who wrote and struc­tured them…

John Bris­sette, IMN’s Graph­ics and Pro­duc­tion Spe­cial­ist,  over­sees all visu­al media and design projects for IMN’s mar­ket­ing, auto­mo­tive and ver­ti­cal solu­tions groups so he knows what it takes to get an email read.

Here is an extract from a series of arti­cles he wrote on Email Design Prin­ci­ples This is a por­tion of Part 4 of the series.

“Above the Fold”

“Above the fold” is a news­pa­per term that means just what it sounds like… arti­cles above the fold get the most atten­tion, and so the most impor­tant mes­sage you’re try­ing to con­vey needs to be there. Any­thing else should sim­ply fall below the fold. The print­ed news­pa­per may be dying a slow, painful death, but this con­cept is alive and kick­ing in dig­i­tal media. Emails too, have an “above the fold” area.

The Bad News: The size of this area varies great­ly, depend­ing on the device being used to view the email, the res­o­lu­tion of the dis­play, and the soft­ware client. If you are read­ing email on your desk­top or lap­top com­put­er, most email read­ers (whether brows­er-based, or installed on your com­put­er) have a “pre­view pane” that will show you a small sec­tion of email. The pre­view pane is the clear­est exam­ple of what it means to have an “above the fold” area. Hav­ing a pret­ty graph­ic or mast­head that occu­pies the first 300 pix­els of your web­site may look great, but if there is no offer, mes­sag­ing, or call-to-action, then you haven’t cap­tured the reader’s atten­tion, and they’ve very like­ly already clicked into anoth­er email.

The Good News: If your email has a clear mes­sage, then you shouldn’t need much space at the top to con­vey it quick­ly and impact­ful­ly. Your main Call-To-Action (what action you ulti­mate­ly want your read­er to take) should be com­plete­ly con­veyed with­in the first 300 pix­els of your email. Avoid the urge to try to get every­thing above the fold, and focus on the most impor­tant mes­sage. Attempt­ing to mul­ti­ple mes­sages above the fold can lead to visu­al con­fu­sion and the read­er feel­ing over­whelmed.

Next in the Series: Inter­ac­tive Ele­ments

Read this and oth­er posts by John Bris­sette on IMN’s Con­tent Counts blog…



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