After all, subscribers don't always read your messages just to see your sales offer or newsletter copy. They might want to unsubscribe or change their preferences, comment on something you wrote or ask a question. You need to make it as easy as possible for them to do what they want to do with your email, not just read the content or take the action you want them to.
If your email message design merely replicates your Web site or landing page, this crucial information probably isn't placed anyplace where readers can find it quickly. An email's purpose differs from your Web pages. So, you must design your messages with navigation specifically for the email user.
Look at the last commercial message you sent out. How easily can you find your way through the navigation and message body for things other than the core content? Or, will subscribers just about have to Mapquest your email address or Web link to find them?
One of the best ways you can help your reader find crucial information is to package it together in an administration center and to place it in a convenient location that stays the same one issue to the next. However, if you run this standing information at the end of your message, the reader who skims your message in the preview pane might not see it.
So, you need to add a link at or near the message top to your admin center within your message, wherever you place it.
Think about all the ways subscribers can interact with you via email, and then review your messages to see how easy or hard it is to accomplish those in your standard email design. Following are some of the more common functions your email should be providing in addition to your core content:
Usability should be woven throughout your entire email program, from before the opt-in, into message design and managing the subscription, all the way through the unsubscribe process. But message design is a good place to start if you're not in a position to overhaul your entire program.
Want to rate your email message's usability? Try this free test.
We need to do all we can to keep the email conversation going with our customer-subscribers. We can foster more interaction by making our email messages as much about their needs as our own - which helps keep the conversation going.