Our Thoughts on Marketing and Strategy

Topics and trends that affect your retail marketing.

Email Strategy: The Struggle Between Format and Content

We all hear or read similar reports– email open rates continue to drop, and yet click-through rates are holding fairly steady. Maybe that’s due to great content, compelling writing or a change in the way we engage with email. We’re betting heavy on that last one. (Bad subject line? Delete. Received three generic emails from your brand in the last week even though I’m a loyal customer? Delete. Data-driven subject line with an offer designed for me? Engage!)

The reality is that even when you’ve built a list, cleaned it continuously, and refined your message, the time and place where that message is getting read changes continuously. A new Experian report shows that 50% of all email is now opened on a smart phone and when you add in tablets those numbers jump up above 60%. The old model of ‘early mornings and late afternoons’ doesn’t fly anymore because we’ve trained ourselves to view email during all down-times, not just in front of the desktop. Your recipients are scrolling through those messages at lunch, at home in bed or even illegally while sitting at stoplights.

So remember two key points for formatting to help get that email opened.

1. Subject Line Brevity
Shorter subject lines have better open rates, this is well documented. Keep it short and on point.

2. It’s critical to format your content in a style or template that works on mobile devices. Approximately half of all opened ‘Brand Related’ messages are viewed for less than 15 seconds. Roughly 25% get less than three seconds. Wherever possible, make that first line of the message your strongest, because it’s the only line that will show up in the recipient’s preview window.

Simply put, if the message is difficult to grab “take aways” from, its going to end up in the trash bin. You can make it easier on your audience by using a scrolling format, large visual cues (appropriately sized images, obvious links to longer stories), and other visual tricks like separating text and photos completely to create blocks or fields. See the two samples pulled from our mobile phone earlier today to see an actual example. We love the actual news we get from the New York Times, but digesting their email (compared to the Velo News) is going to be a challenge.



Some data in this article is referenced in this report: