Getting Your Email Ready For Battle: Beating Inbox Distractions

We all get excited about open rates, and it’s true that once a subscriber opens an email, he or she is one step closer to taking the action we intended -- right? Well, not always.

As email marketers, we often see our emails differently than our subscribers do. We consider each message in the context of our entire program, painstakingly perfecting each layout, while our subscribers sometimes sees our email as just another moment flashing through their days.

As we strive to win subscribers’ attention and clicks, we are up against a tough lineup of inbox distractions, all ready to steal away our hard-fought conversions.  Strengthen your email with the best armor for the inbox battles by considering your users’ experiences.

Contender #1: Personalized Ads

Google Ad Words are mighty opponents, reflecting your subscribers’ interests and occupying a prominent role in their email space. If you’re marketing kitchenware, know that your subscriber is getting competing ads both at the top of their emails and often to the right of your message -- possibly for just the coffeemaker or knife set they need. Not to mention the flash: Yahoo’s banner ads often employ color, animation and rollover technology to entice away your subscribers.  



Secret Weapon: Subscriber Relationships & Sophisticated Design 

While Google Ad Words may know what products your subscribers are interested in, they can’t track subscriber behavior the way you can. Build subscriber relationships with a well-designed program that includes solid messaging and segmentation, and your subscriber will learn that your emails are better attuned to their needs than the ads surrounding it. Further, by using sophisticated designs with clear messaging, you’ll keep your edge over competitors.   


Contender #2: The Preview Pane

As we email recipients know, users of Yahoo, Outlook and (now) Google have the option to view emails in a preview pane. This is a nice, quick way to scan messages for the recipient but presents a challenge for our emails, cutting down the real estate considerably.

Secret Weapons: Information Hierarchy & Prompting the Scroll
To optimize the preview pane situation, your primary message needs to dominate -- establishing enough visual weight to stand out from everything around it. A subscriber sees just 350-400 pixels of the email at a time, so it’s essential that you hit your most important points in that amount of space. That said, you can design your email to prompt subscribers to scroll.

Give subscribers a reason to spend more time with your message by including images and modules that extend beyond the preview pane, guiding their eyes downward and letting them know that they haven’t yet seen your full message.

Contender #3: Social Inbox Features
In addition to business competition that has its eyes on your subscribers, your email must face off with an even more potent challenger: your subscribers’ personal interests. With social networking and chatting functionality built into Gmail and Yahoo inboxes, your subscribers have easy access to other content if they lose interest in your emails. 

Secret Weapon: Relevant Messaging with Sharing Capabilities

Take advantage of subscribers’ easy access to their friends. If your message grabs your subscribers’ attention with a relevant offer – you know, the type they just can’t keep quiet about – then they’re just a click away from sharing it with their networks. Make it easy on them with easily accessible SWYN capabilities, and keep your messaging so relevant that they’ll want to chat about it.

Even with the toughest armor…

Your email won’t always hold your subscribers’ wandering eyes. You can continue to bolster your position on the battlefield by viewing your emails in a variety of inbox environments – and paying attention to factors that draw you away as you browse your own email.

2 comments about "Getting Your Email Ready For Battle: Beating Inbox Distractions".
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  1. Richard Austin from 1973 Ltd, October 25, 2011 at 10:34 a.m.

    Great article, though you can of course target your Google Ads around the key words used in your email so that the ads that are clicked are yours.

  2. Wacarra Yeomans from Responsys, October 25, 2011 at 3:39 p.m.

    Great point, Richard! :) Thanks for the comment.

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