The ABC of Email Marketing: A - Above the Fold
As part of a new series we’re going to take the time to sift through the complicated world of Email Marketing and attempt to decipher some of the weird and wonderful terms and phrases bandied about by the Pros.
As is often the case with a burgeoning industry, the Email Marketing world is awash with acronyms, abbreviations and jargon; so, if you’re constantly confusing you’re A/B with your B2C then you’re in the right place.
In the wise words of Julie Andrews, let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start…
A is for… Above the Fold
This expression is used to describe the area of your email that will be seen immediately by the recipient without having to scroll down.
Back in the days when newspapers ruled the roost (remember them?) Advertisers and Editors were most interested in the top half of the newspaper as this could still be seen after the Newspaper had been folded up for distribution. This is where Headlines screamed and the best danced like chorus girls desperate for the limelight.
Unlike a newspaper though, an email is affected by how the recipient views it – there’s a massive amount of choice nowadays as to how we can set up our inboxes. Everyone seems to have their own preferences for managing the influx of information that bombards them each day, what’s yours?
- Do you use a reading pane or switch it off?
- Do you use desktop software like Outlook? Or do you prefer using a webmail service like yahoo?
- Do you have AutoPreview turned on?
- Do you have a wide inbox or a narrow one?
- Do you have your images showing or blocked?
Although considered to be the most valuable area of a marketing email, predicting the ‘above the fold’ area is a bit of a tricky one.
The way your email is seen can be affected by:
- The size of the monitor used
- The dimensions of any preview/ reading pane
- The resolution of the monitor
- The dimensions of the email window when opened
- Any headers, ads, banners etc used by email programs on the web such as Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail etc.
Any, and all, of these considerations must be taken into account when putting together an effective marketing email.
So what are the general rules then?
1. Put your best content first
No time to be coy people, lead with your very best content, consider a two column design to present two leading stories if appropriate; just remember this is not a novel, you don’t need to build an atmosphere of set the scene – jump straight in with the good stuff!
2. Don’t go wider than 600px
As a rule of thumb, don’t design your emails wider than 600px – then your readers won’t need to scroll horizontally - only marginally less frustrating than a 19-mile tailback on the M25. You’ve been warned.
3. Make sure you/ your business/ your brand is recognisable within the first 300px
Nobody likes to be shouted at by strangers. Fact.
Sometimes our inboxes can feel like a wide open space where strangers throw open their tatty suitcases and insist we take a long look at their various odds and sods. Our inboxes aren’t the local market square; they’re our own sacred spaces and if you’ve been lucky enough to have someone say to you/ your business “come on in, show me what you’ve got’ then you’d better make sure you announce yourself.
Nothing closes an email quicker than “Who did this come from?”
4. Make sure your call to action is obvious and well within the first 300px
People are busy and if they aren’t, then they’re busy trying to look busy. Make life easier for them by letting them know from the very beginning what you want them to do. If you want them to buy your latest offering, ask them to and don’t make it difficult. Give them buttons to click, articles to read, pictures to look at, pages to like, tweets to follow, forums to join, freebies to download – whatever is appropriate for your audience.
The key is to encourage them to move from their inbox to your world, be that your website, shop, Facebook page, Twitter profile, Pinterest board, LinkedIn page and all the other ways in which we can engage our audience and make them feel that their relationship with us is well worth their time and email address.
Here's a tips - if you use our guide to tracking your emails using Google Analytics, have a look at which links are getting clicked - my bet is it's the ones above the fold.
So, that’s A sorted then. On to B…
Philippa is our lead Email Marketing trainer, who also runs our HTML Emails courses.
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