Is Your Email Preview-Pane Ready?

The last time I wrote about email marketing on here, I discussed several tips for writing better email subject lines. We’ve also given you some tips on building opt-in email lists to improve your online marketing.  These are all fairly basic topics, but they’re important to executing your email marketing campaign correctly.

Today, however, I want to talk about an important aspect of email marketing that tends to get overlooked. Yet, if you ignore this thing, your subscribers likely won’t read your emails or take the action you desire.

Here are a few stats to consider:

  • 64% of online merchants keep key points of content high up in the body of the message. – Internet Retailer (2007)
  • 64% of people who are offered preview panes start using them as their default. – MarketingSherpa (2007)
  • 69% of at-work email users usually view emails in their preview panes. – MarketingSherpa
  • 80% of at-work users in the US rely on Outlook, which offers preview panes. – MarketingSherpa

Based on these statistics, the importance of creating preview-ready email is pretty clear. Now, this brings up the question: What can you do to make your email preview-pane ready? Here are a few tips to get you started.


Put the most important information up topThe first statistic I mentioned earlier was that 64% of online merchants are placing the most important content at the top of their email. They do this because they know a lot of their subscribers will decide whether or not to open the email based on what they see in the preview pane. So, if the top of your email doesn’t contain a strong offer, a great headline, or an interesting tease, a lot of your subscribers will never feel compelled to open your email.

Take a look at the content of your email message. Highlight the main points (offer/benefits) of the message, and bump them up to the very top. If these points are strong and interesting enough, your emails will be likelier to get open.

Here’s another thing you should do: Send yourself the email before you send it out. Look at the email in the preview pane and ask yourself honestly if you’d open it if you were the average subscriber. Figure out what you could add or remove to make the message preview stronger.

Eliminate headers or big images at the top of the email

A lot of companies waste precious space above the fold (and in the preview pane) with large headers, images, and company logos. This is problematic for a few reasons:

  1. It takes up too much space in the preview pane, and it doesn’t give previewers a compelling reason to open your message.
  2. Many email programs still block images or subscribers will have their options set to block images, so instead of an image, they’re greeted with a big red “X.”
  3. Large images can slow down email preview load time, causing readers to move on quickly.

If you want to use images in your emails, that’s fine, but push them down so they don’t clog up the preview pane. Also, make sure the file size of the images is small so they’ll load quickly.

Place a call to action link above the fold

In general, I like to place a call to action in every screen view. This way, no matter where someone is in the copy, they have a way to take action immediately. The same concept applies when tailoring your email to the preview pane. Placing a call to action at the top gives previewers a way to visit your landing page without actually taking the time to open the email.


Are your emails preview-pane ready?

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