Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Perfect Opportunity for Printers!

Everyone knows how I've been SCREAMING about how important it is for printers to get involved in communications logistics.... and I've been saying how even the management of e-mail campaigns is something that printers should be offering.

PROOF! This press release from EmailLabs explains that e-marketing is difficult, and requires skills. Sure, the deliverability issue is important, but how about content?... and the way that content is formatted?

Aren't these the kinds of issues that printers have always dealt with? "Don't design it that way because it won't get through the bindery" "Choose these colors because they will always print consistently" "If it has X number of pages, you will get a postage discount" We're used to this stuff!

I have never posted a press release, but I think it's really important to post pieces of this one. The full release can be found at http://www.emaillabs.com/articles/news/emaillabs_survey_preview_pane_and_image_blocking.html

In the survey sent to EmailLabs' Intevation Report newsletter subscribers, 90 percent of email newsletter subscribers have access to a preview pane, and 69 percent say they frequently or always use it. Nearly 53 percent of respondents' email clients or ISPs automatically block images in some or all email messages and 45 percent of email readers rarely or never download images within their preview pane. Furthermore, 50 percent of subscribers rarely or never place an email address on their email client's safe sender list.
Survey data indicates that 49 percent of email readers only look at the first few lines in the preview pane to decide if they want to continue reading the message. Whether targeting respondents who use the horizontal format (75 percent) or the vertical format (25 percent), survey results suggest it is critical that marketers design emails that will maximize the preview pane's limited real estate -- which is typically set by users at 2-5 inches. If insufficient information is displayed in the preview pane -- due to blocked images, advertisements or poor design -- nearly 19 percent of respondents will simply delete the message.

"This survey confirms our suspicions that a large percentage of B2B email subscribers do not download images and prefer to scan or read their emails within the preview pane and never fully open the email," said Loren McDonald, EmailLabs vice president of marketing. "Moving forward, we advise marketers to re-evaluate and, if necessary, redesign their emails to better address how their subscribers are actually interacting with their email newsletters," he added.

To help alleviate the impact preview panes and disabled images have on email performance, EmailLabs is recommending the following best practices:
-- Redesign the top of emails to include a 2-3 inch preview pane header area that is HTML and text only (no images). This "header" area should include only copy such as article teasers, key offers and "In This Issue" information that enables the subscriber to determine whether to read further and/or open the email. Publishers may want to test using HTML/Text-based ads in this area and consider charging a premium to advertisers based on the increase in impressions.
-- Redesign email templates so that both content blocks and advertisements can be viewed entirely within a 2-3 inch window as readers scroll through an email.
-- Minimize the use of images unless necessary as in ecommerce-oriented emails that display multiple product photos. Avoid using images that are more than 2-3 inches tall. Instead use HTML fonts, colors and backgrounds when possible to liven up the email.
-- Publishers should consider eliminating use of skyscraper ads and move to more HTML/text-based ads; ads with images should be limited to the horizontal banner format.
-- Examine preview pane area for extraneous or administrative information that can be relocated elsewhere, such as an administrative footer at the bottom of the email. Do, however, consider including text links for key actions such as "View Web Version" and "Update Profile" at the bottom of the preview pane area.

Additional key findings include:
-- The sender's name and/or email address remains the most important factor readers look for in the preview pane when deciding whether to read further or open the email (60 percent). Subject lines, headlines and teaser copy follow at 54.3 percent, 53 percent and 30.3 percent, respectively.
-- Only 31 percent of email users report they always or frequently add the B2B newsletters they asked to receive to their safe-senders list or address books in order to potentially avoid having them routed to their bulk or junk folders.
-- Sixty percent of survey respondents read messages in either Outlook 2003 or Lotus Notes, the two clients that block images by default. The number rises to 86 percent when considering those who use all versions of Outlook, Outlook Express and Lotus Notes.

"Email marketers and publishers need to be aware of these factors that are greatly affecting their email performance. While this latest study focuses on business-to-business marketers, we expect this issue to increasingly affect business-to-consumer marketers, driven by developments such as the Yahoo! Mail preview pane currently in Beta," concluded McDonald.

Is it really an opportunity for printers? ... or maybe the opportunity is for trained designers, the dreaded creatives...

IMHO, What do most printers really know about maximizing the impact of content visually? In my experience they mostly concentrate on what does NOT work, not on what works better..
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