Above the fold – two emails in one

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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.

Two Emails?

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.

Email Vendor Selection: Must haves for a mobile savvy email marketer

[tweetmeme source=”getintheinbox” only_single=false]For Email Vendor Selection Is write “Must haves for a mobile savvy email marketer” where I list the 4 chief tools that your ESP should provide to be kitted up for mobile recipients.

I also discuss the basic differences between desktops and mobiles in technical terms and the user experience before delving deeper into the mobile requirements and some easy method to optimise the desktop version to mobile recipients… read on

+ Big thanks to Jordie for rearranging the contents, it reads much better this way than the way I originally wrote it 🙂

Great subject line advice from the Email Critics

In “Subject Line Length Doesn’t Matter (Here Is The One Thing That Does)” the Email Critics give us 5 great things medically we need to have in our minds when composing subject lines:

1. Urgency
2. Fear
3. Valuable
4. Timely
5. Call to Action

All very valid and well written, go read it now…

Basic Creative Optimisation Tips

[tweetmeme source=”getintheinbox” only_single=false]I wrote this at the end of the report did for a customer, thought it was blog worthy…

Deliverability and Brand Rapport

Try to invite replies to the email, this not only gets you in their address book, it will also tell each inbox that you are a trusted sender so deliverability will be easier. Also allowing your recipients to converse to you will bring them closer to the brand.


To ensure an optimal experience before the images are loaded on desktops, having a 2 line preheader to tease for the snippet preview and get the images loaded permanently can not only improve the engagement and subsequent conversions of this email but all future emails once the images are permanently loaded.

  • Left aligned
  • 10px
  • Top line as teaser
  • 2nd line imager loader / view in a browser
Preview Pane

The preview pane content and the rest of the email could be thought of as two different emails, where the preview pane view is built for optimal engagement and conversion and the rest of the email is freer because anyone who gets that far would/should have loaded the images of hit the browser view button.

  • Avoid large images spanning the whole width
    • Can break one up into more than one image
    • Some will be hidden with Responsive Design.
  • Where you have text, use actual text
    • rather than text in an image, where possible
  • Needs some text that grabs attention in the top left
    • Also a great spot for personalisation, like first name
    • Try using HTML buttons for calls to action
      • Rather than image buttons
      • The latest CSS3 features can add rounded corners, shadows and glows depending on the email client used.
Mobile Responsive Design

As per the piece earlier in this review responsive design is the best way to build an email because each recipient should then get the best experience depending on their device.

  • Ensure you have the ability to shrink the width from 600px to 300px.
    • Two main columns
    • Be happy to lose the far right if needed
    • Full width banner images can be shrunk or sections hidden (split the images)
    • Learn how to force right hand content to underneath the left column.
  • Make sure the normal text is still readable once zoomed to the width
    • 14px Arial
    • 12px Verdana
    • HTML Call to Action Buttons
      • Use CSS3 HTML buttons that can be made easily ‘tappable’ on a mobile
      • On the iPhone, this can even be given a pulsing glow!
  • Hide the preheader
    • Mobile devices don’t really need the preheader text as long as the images are loaded.
    • You may still need a browser view link for iPhones will no images – but they are so few it might not be worth the effort.
    • The teaser text will still work in the inbox preview.
    • Consider leaving and optimising the call to action depending on the content goals.
  • Test the email length to ensure the length does not harm engagement.

Over Branding

[tweetmeme source=”getintheinbox” only_single=false]There really is no need to have such large logo and so many images before the content. A recipient has seen the “From Name” and trusted it enough to open the email once the subject line has convinced them there is something relevant inside.

Once the email is open they are in a bit of a rush to get the content they were promised in the subject line.

At the moment they would have to load the images and scroll quite a way.

A good idea is to drastically reduce the amount of anything between the top of the email and the actual content.

You still need some branding, the look feel and a logo is required to help get people into the mind set and trusting way your existing rapport has already built, but there is not need to sell yourself in an email that someone has already asked for.