In preparation for this article I was looking through my inbox (or actually the Gmail promotions tab in a separate inbox I use to receive newsletters). The first newsletter I opened was staring back at me. I set out to write an article about Call to Actions and was looking for some good examples, instead what I found was the complete opposite.
A wall of words isn’t fashionable
Have a look at the example below. This is what you call a “wall of words”-email. With each word stacked on more words on more sentences. Like the Chinese wall: loooong. They really take a long time to get through, and that is a shame if you want to bring your message across and get your subscribers to act on it. Instead of a Call to Action, it is a request to pull out a chair and to read the inbox equivalent of a novel.
The problem with these types of mails is that they could still be very successful and have a big engaged readership. But even if your wall of words emails is successful already, it can still benefit from tearing down that wall.
Tearing down the wall
Now that we know that stuff is best when consumed. How do we tear down down this wall of words?
- Chunk it: Use paragraphs and category labels
- Think in lines not sentences. If more than 4 lines in a paragraph; shorten
- Delete all comma’s
- Use subheads
- Move non-essential information to the landing page
- Use clear Call to Actions
Kicking in the visual hierarchy
Your subscribers scan your emails and have a preference to look at elements that seem important. Think about bigger in size, highlighted or out of the ordinary. It is a visual hierarchy, your readers first look at things that seem important (or interesting). It is the way we cope with the ever building overload of information.
Creating a visual hierarchy is one of the ways to get the most out of your email newsletter anatomy. That means getting elements to work together to direct the attention to the place you want it to go. Because even if your mail is great and the timing is perfect…. once it lacks visual hierarchy and doesn’t convey the message at a glance, it gets skipped and all of your hard work doesn’t matter.
That is exactly what happens when there is a wall of words standing between your message and the recipient.
Keep it Mobile stupid!
You might have heard this before: KISS or keep it simple, sender.
But today there is a twist and it is called mobile email marketing. Your emails need to be equally or even more simple on any mobile device. There is an explosion of people reading your emails on mobile. Now already half of your readers are opening their emails on mobile.
A smartphone opener doesn’t mind to scroll, a bit. People even argue if there is a “fold“ for mobile email, but you can imagine how many lines the text in the above example becomes when viewed on your smartphone display.
It is like scrolling down the Eiffel tower!
Responsive email can bring some relief there, hiding text and other unnecessary elements through @media queries. But why not do exactly the same for the big (desktop) screen? Some call this mobile-first-design, I prefer to call it common-sense-first-design.