Does your email pass the 8 second test?

By September 13, 2016Design & Development
Does your email pass the 8 second test?

You have merely 8 seconds to capture the attention of your (distracted) prospects before they delete your email!  The average attention span of email audiences is reducing over time, so how can you compete?  How can your email stand out in this overwhelming world of digital mayhem?

I am guilty of neglecting my personal email for several months resulting in over 8,000 unread messages. Unfortunately, to manage my inbox, a significant number of those are going to be bulk-deleted.  How do you prevent someone from deleting an email?

Here is a list of tips to get prospects to click:

The Subject line

More often than not, the Subject line is the last item on the list, like an afterthought that you add before you hit “send”.  Don’t make this mistake.  Your Subject line should entice your audience and encourage an open.  Choose clarity over cleverness because readers don’t like surprises or to be tricked.  So how do you “wow” your audience and get them to interact?

  • Personalize— Readers are 47% more likely to open an email that greets them by name or includes personalized content in the subject line
  • Keep it short— Under 50 characters is best
  • Test— Consider A/B testing- use the same email with different subject lines, review which of the two yields the best open rate
  • Use online tools—  Check your subject line for flags associated with SPAM filters
  • No punctuation necessary… for a Subject line

Showcase your company’s brand and voice

The email recipient needs to know who you are and open that email!  When your email arrives in an inbox, the recipient should immediately know that it comes from your organization.  What do I mean by “brand”?  There are multiple definitions.  One of my favorites is by Marty Neumeier, The Brand Gap: “[A brand] is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or company.  While companies can’t control this process, they can influence it by communicating the qualities that make this product different from that product.  When enough people arrive at the same feeling, a company can be said to have a brand.  A brand is not what you say it is– it’s what they say it is.”

Here are three additional tips to create brand consistency in your email:

  • Develop and on-brand consistent look and feel for your email marketing
  • Keep it professional—Use your company colors, fonts, and logo.  Variations are acceptable, but when you compare two emails side-by-side, they should look like they are from the same sender/business
  • Use a consistent brand voice in your messaging

Focus on your design and content:
Design your emails while taking the reader’s perspective.  Develop content with a clear layout making it easy to scan, and include a clear call to action.  Make sure you immediately inform the reader what’s in it for them and don’t make them think.

To maintain consistency, flexibility, professionalism (and to reduce maintenance), use email templates.  Templates can be shared within your organization to create company/brand standards that email marketers and team members can follow.

Design and content tips:

  • Create visual hierarchy
    • Establish a primary message that is visually larger and bolder than the secondary message
    • Create a clear organizational flow by using size and colors to help your readers understand the message order
    • Use spacing and dividing lines to separate sections.  Don’t be afraid to use space.  Give the line-height some breathing room
    • The design should be clean and brand recognizable
    • Limit to 4 or 5 sections within the email
  • Use white space
    • It is essential to give room between elements, images, text, buttons, to name a few
    • White space or negative space does not have to be “white”.  It can be any color that fits the design
    • One or two column layouts or a combination are effective— try to stay at 3 or less
  • Color matters
    • Select a nice, limited range of (on-brand) contrasting colors
    • Apply the color scheme across all emails/campaigns
    • It is easier to read dark text on a light background
    • Check out this handy tool to experiment with colors
  • Compelling imagery & clean fonts
    • Use images that are bold and beautiful!  Images that instill emotion or encourage action from the reader are more effective
    • Keep image sizes to a minimum and never design an email that is one gigantic image
    • Aim for a solid 60/40 text to image ratio
    • Use clean web safe fonts, don’t mix more than a few styles or treatments in a single email, and always consider leading, kerning and sizing
  • Clear Call to Action (CTA)
    • For buttons, use high contrast colors to grab attention.  For example, use white text on a blue button
    • Wording matters!  Your goal is to clearly convey value and create a sense of urgency
    • Check out these 17 ideas that focus on call-to-action buttons
  • Content
    • Compose emails using short sentences
    • Use Power Words
    • Incorporate headings and subheadings to break up content
    • Try using a storytelling approach to engage your reader
    • Speak to the reader in a language that encourages engagement
    • Ask your customers and prospects for feedback

The tips I have shared have helped our clients survive the digital trash can.  For more information, contact us today!

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Jessica Jones

Sr. Marketing Technology Consultant
Jessica Jones is a creative marketer with over 18 years of professional experience. She graduated from UCF with a BA in Digital Media. She is business-minded with a dynamic background in graphic design, marketing strategy, campaign management, vendor management, brand and project management. Her experience includes design and creative direction for small and large businesses, B2B and B2C marketing, and campaign execution/management with Eloqua. Jessica is passionate about all things marketing, and is eager to share her knowledge and love of marketing automation to help customers succeed and grow.