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Above the Fold?
You may have heard the phrase above the fold in more than one context, in this context, I am talking about the section of the email that is visible when the email is first opened;
In Outlook, Thunderbird and Gmail, for instance, this is the preview pane (if you have it enabled); on all other inboxes, without a preview pane it is simply the content that is first visible. This will different for each inbox and the top of the email will be positioned at different places on the screen, eg: Outlook’s will probably be nearer the middle, whereas Hotmail will be higher on the screen.
So that bit of the email is the bit above the fold.
When someone gets an email there are 2 initial touch points: the inbox view where they see the ‘from name’ and the ‘subject line’ (plus the inbox snippet preview on the iPhone and Gmail etc.), then the email itself when they open the email.
They then have to decide what to do depending on their impression of the content in front of them and their opinion/rapport with the sending brand.
This means is that that rest of the email ‘below the fold’ is not visible at all at this point and one of the decisions the recipient has to make is whether or not to scroll down.
Other decisions include: load the images, view in a browser, click through etc.
Once someone has gone as far as scrolling down the email, you should be able to fairly safely assume that the images are already loaded so there would be fewer barriers to engagement with the content at that point.
Subsequently the content segment that is visible to the recipient upon opening could or should be looked at differently than the rest of the email or more importantly more than the entire email as a whole.
Content above the fold needs to achieve the initial engagement, based on the goal of the email.
- If the goal is to do one thing, it should hold at least one call to action.
- If images are present and especially if an image plays a particularly important part in the conversion, it must get the images loaded or the browser view link clicked.
- If the email is fairly long it would also be responsible to getting the scroll, so it should tease towards content further down the email as well.
- To ease future engagement, why not ask for images to be always loaded?
Once the engagement is achieved, you have far more of a free rein over your content and you can then take the recipient down the path you make for them.
I originally wrote this for Pure360: “Above the fold – two emails in one”
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There is also another very cool blog on Email Critic called: “Email Marketing Above The Fold: Four And A Half Things To Include” which also mentions adding an unsubscribe link. I’m all for it if you are having problems with spam complaints and/or if your rapport with your audience or your audiences’ rapport with that email is poor. In those situations people might find themselves moving the mouse towards the spam button in order top optout without registering a click with the email.
Having an unsubscribe link in the top right of the email means that the user will pass that link on the way to the spam button in many inboxes and might just hit that instead and save you from complaints. This will help your reputation, or at least lessen a negative affect.
If you are not having a complaint problem by putting an unsubscribe link in the top you could make it easier for some of the lesser engaged people, who might be on the way to being zombies, to optout, meaning you will lose the ability to convert them later. Instead you should be segmenting your list by engagement, so people who are less engaged can have content and a call to action that is more suited to that rapport.