Posts Tagged ‘Email Essentials Workshop Training’

Preview Panes, Image Blocking and My Pitch to Have Microsoft Outlook Turn Images on by Default

June 17th, 2010

My “official” blog post will begin in a minute, but first here’s a quick tale from the road:

Some marketers from Microsoft attended the Email Essentials Workshop in Seattle, Washington last month. The creative they brought to share didn’t leverage the preview pane as effectively as it could have when images were blocked.

We were discussing ways to address this as a group, when I just couldn’t resist. I suggested that, since Outlook was a Microsoft product, they just talk to the developers at their company and change the default from “images blocked” to “images on.”

The room broke out in laughter and a little applause; the other attendees were definitely on board with this idea. One of the people from Microsoft jokingly said he’d speak to Steve Ballmer about it right away. Who says that talking about email marketing can’t be fun!

Some of the most interesting discussions in the MarketingSherpa Email Essentials Workshop Training sessions I’ve been leading center around creative execution, preview panes and image blocking.

Workshop attendees bring samples of their email marketing efforts that we review as a group, identifying areas where the creative mirrors standards and best practices, and also looking for things the marketer might test to improve performance. It’s surprising to me how few marketers take image blocking into account when developing their email creative.

In the latest MarketingSherpa Email Marketing Benchmark Report, a survey of email recipients found that only 33% have images turned on by default. That means that 67% – or two-thirds of recipients – don’t.

The preview pane is your prime real estate to pull people into your email. In conjunction with the sender address and subject line, it’s the key to getting people to read your email. When I’m looking at image blocking, I focus on the preview pane view. This is the place that having images on, or off, makes the most impact.

More than 80% of business people and more than 50% of consumers utilize the preview pane view on their email clients. More than 75% are using a horizontal (rather than vertical) preview pane (data, again, comes from Marketing Sherpa’s 2010 Email Marketing Benchmark Report).

So you should all know what the preview pane view of your email looks like, both with and without images.

Exhibit A: A recent issue of one of USATODAY’s email newsletters (see below).

With the images turned on, I can see that it’s the Travel Briefing and even get part of an image and a headline to pull me into the email.

screenshot of the preview pane with images turned on

But that’s not the case when images are blocked (see below).

With images turned off I can see the “housekeeping” messages at the very top, as well as the copy associated with the Facebook and Twitter links, but nothing else.
screenshot of the preview pane with images turned off

At the very least, the “Travel Briefing” headline should be in rich text, as the social media copy is. Many companies prefer to make newsletter titles and even headlines images because it allows them control over the font for branding purposes. That’s fine on a website, but for email anything that can be rich text should be. That way the words will show even if images are blocked.

Also fine on websites are large “hero photos” which appear under the header — but they’re not so good in email. The caption for the photo at the top left, which is also the story headline, is “Top 10 Free Travel Apps.” It’s directly below the image. If USATODAY moved this above the image it would make the preview pane, with or without images blocked, much more engaging.

One more thing: With images blocked the content of the email is shifted down. So even though the headline on the right appears when images are on, it gets bumped below the preview pane when images are blocked. Without images there’s not a lot here to engage readers and pull them in to read the email.

Developing email creative to take full advantage of your preview pane prime real estate when images are blocked isn’t difficult or expensive. It just takes a little thought. If you don’t know what your email looks like in the preview pane with images blocked, now’s your chance to check.

So check how your messages appear in the preview pane when images are off. And if you don’t like what you see, fix it — and see your engagement and click-through rates rise. At least until my Microsoft marketing contact convinces Steve Ballmer to have the developers make “images on” the default setting for Outlook…

Editor’s Note: Jeanne Jennings is teaching MarketingSherpa’s Email Essentials Workshop Training in 10 locations around the country this year; the next one takes place in Atlanta on June 25th. She’ll be blogging about the course material and her experiences during the tour. We’re excited to have her on board and contributing to the blog.

How a 6 Email Series Increased Unique Key Clickthrough Reach by Nearly 400% Over a Single Email

March 18th, 2010

Why create a series of six related email messages when one will do? To increase your response and ROI, that’s why!

This is just one topic we cover in the MarketingSherpa Email Essentials 2010 Workshop Training, taking place in 10 locations around the United States; the next one is March 25th in New York City.

With average open rates in the 20% range and average clickthrough rates in the single digits, only a fraction of your list is likely to open, click on or convert from a single email message. If you send a series of messages over a period of time, you’ll increase your reach.

That was the logic behind a series of email messages I developed for a client last year; we sent six email messages over the course of about 12 weeks. But the magnitude of the increased reach amazed even us.

Open rates were pretty much consistent from send to send, but when we looked specifically at who was opening, we found that we picked up new people after each send:
– Our unique cumulative open reach increased an average of 11% with each send in the series
– The second send increased our unique open reach by 31%
– Even with diminishing returns, the sixth send increased our unique open reach by 6%

In the end, cumulative unique open reach was 95% higher than the open rate on the first email alone, meaning that the last five efforts nearly doubled the number of people that were exposed to the campaign.

The same was true for our unique clickthrough reach:
– Our unique clickthrough reach increased an average of 20% send-over-send
– The second send caused our unique clickthrough reach to grow by 63%
– Even the sixth send provided a 10% lift in unique clickthrough reach over the five earlier efforts

Our final cumulative unique clickthrough reach was 236% higher than the clickthrough rate on the first email; over the course of the campaign more than three times the number of people that clicked on the first email interacted with us.

But the real success story is about what happened to clickthrough on the key call-to-action link:
– Unique clickthrough reach increased an average of 25% send-over-send
– It more than doubled (a lift of 105%) after the second send
– The last email sent provided a 7% increase in our cumulative unique clickthrough reach on this key call-to-action link

When all was said and done, the cumulative unique clickthrough reach on this key link was nearly five times that of the clickthrough rate the link garnered in the first send, a lift of 392%.

Developing a Strategic Email Series

A strategic email series is different than a straight resend. Rather than send the same message over and over again, you craft a “message map” and use it to develop different content all focused on the same goal or offer.

Email series can be used effectively in a number of ways:
– Welcome Campaigns
– Reactivation Programs
– Lead Nurturing Initiatives
– Event, Product or Service Promotions
– Top of Mind Initiatives

Email series allow you to present much more information that you could in a single email. They give you the opportunity to build the case for your brand, product or service over time, while building a relationship with your readers.

The best part of many email series, especially welcome campaigns and lead nurturing initiatives, is that while they take some time and effort to create, they are evergreen. They can be used, without major changes, for years to come since they’ll be sent to different people on an ongoing basis.

Have you had success with an email series? If so, please share your experience in the comments of this blog and let’s get a discussion going!

Editor’s Note: Jeanne Jennings is teaching MarketingSherpa’s Email Essentials Workshop Training in 10 locations around the country this year; the next one takes place in New York City on March 25th. She’ll be blogging about the course material and her experiences during the tour. We’re excited to have her on board and contributing to the blog.