Email Marketing: design tips to improve your open rates.

Many email marketers frequently fail to realize that their subscriber's email application preview pane is the first opportunity their content has to attract the attention they require. And unfortunately those that don't allow for a snapshot preview in their content design fall victim to lower than expected open rates as their subscribers are less likely to open the message in full.

Here are four simple steps you can to take to ensure your next email message preview pane design gets all the attention it should:

First, be aware that prior to Outlook 2003, the preview your subscriber sees runs horizontally along the foot of their screen. In Outlook 2003, this view is a vertical slice showing the left hand side of your content.

As a tip take a blank sheet of paper and then reveal the top third of your next message and then the left third. Does what you see in both instances seem interesting enough to entice your subscribers to click on?

Second, by allowing for the thinnest of newsletter mastheads, you should cram into these viewable snippets as much content as you can. Plus, if this content tells your subscriber exactly what your message contains, then the chances of them opening it increase even further.

Third, don't have too many images cluttering the preview space. By default, my version of Outlook 2003 suppresses all images sent to me in HTML messages. All I see is a sea of red crosses, which tells me nothing about the message. (I tend to leave these messages until later, which CAN become NEVER! Your subscribers may well do the same.)

And finally the smart newsletter designers use images sparingly in this top part. Even better, they build their masthead using not images, but HTML text and colour to effectively get across their message. As a consumer, I'm far more tempted to break my train of thought and dig down deeper into that juicy piece of content I can see.

Thus, by treating the preview pane of your newsletter as a quick-peek mini-summary for your subscribers, you are on the right track to grab a new client!

It's simple really--the quicker your readers are intrigued by the very first lines of your email, the more they will read them.

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