Ask The E-mail Diva

Dear E-Mail Diva,

I put together an e-mail blast that we send to our customers weekly. It includes products that we're trying to promote and links to our site. We have quite good results with it, but I was wondering what you would advise to make it even better. Thank you!

Rachel, Comp-U-Plus Sales

Dear Rachel,

Fresh from the very-worthwhile Marketing Sherpa E-mail Summit, the E-mail Diva has three suggestions from cutting-edge marketers for you.

Eye tracking is a hot topic in the industry and for good reason. It allows you to see how people read--or don't read--your e-mail. The high-level takeaway is that people spend a few seconds gliding over the most prominent features on the page. On your page, everything is prominent, so nothing is prominent.

It is so busy that it is overwhelming, rather than welcoming, to the eye. Test the current version against another with a clearer information hierarchy to see which delivers not more clicks but more sales. (Chet Van Wert from Conde Nast shared the finding that longer copy delivered fewer clickers, but those who clicked were pre-qualified and more likely to convert to buyers on the site.) Put featured products into categories so that a consumer can easily skip over coffee makers and find DVD players, rather than having to wade through the entire list. Consider investing in eye tracking to see which layout invites the eye to roost, the consumer to read and, ideally, buy.

In your redesign, consider the Preview Pane. As Loren McDonald's study points out, 69 percent of people "always" or "frequently" view e-mail in a preview pane, typically the top 2-5 inches of a message. The top of your e-mail is devoted to search and category buttons. While both are a good idea, they are not the compelling message that gets consumers to click. Consider moving these features to the left side of the e-mail, where they are accessible but not taking up your most valuable real estate. Since your header is an image, it will be blocked by over half your readers with a blocking function who report that they "rarely" or "never" download images. For them, your valuable preview pane will be taken up with something like this:

There is much to be gained from integrating your Web and e-mail data. This allows you to send a targeted e-mail to consumers based on the products they are considering now, rather than those they've purchased in the past. You can, for example, send an e-mail to consumers who have abandoned their shopping carts with a special offer for the item(s) in it. You can also provide a targeted offer to a consumer who has been browsing a particular product category online. Talk to your E-mail Service Provider about this data integration that is, according to many, easier to accomplish than one would think.

Redesigning your e-mail for maximum scan-ability, considering the preview pane and integrating web analytics into your e-mail program will put you up there with the best marketers in the biz, and, more important, increase your ROI.

Good luck!

The E-mail Diva

Send your question to the E-mail Diva at emaildiva@kd-i.com. All submissions may be published; please indicate if you would like your name or company name withheld.

The E-mail Diva is Melinda Krueger.

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