5 Ways to Optimize the E-mail Preview Pane
Roseanne Roseannadanna perhaps says it best: "It just goes to show you, it's always something." Like the legendary character on NBC's "Saturday Night Live," e-mail marketers are accustomed to change. Most of it proves challenging, but some of it can be good. Two such developments appear to be coinciding. The new ubiquity of preview panes may help direct marketers retain customers, despite the looming deadline of altered algorithms that may keep senders of regularly unopened messages out of opt-in recipients' inboxes.
United Kingdom-based InterContinental Hotels Group took a proactive approach to these occurrences. Because the hotel group was already revamping much of its e-mail strategy during the recent consolidation of its e-mail service providers, IHG took a top-to-bottom look at its strategy. It was time to polish what its new ESP terms the "golden rectangle" or the "sweet spot"—that two-inch to three-inch deep message preview pane.
"I know a lot of the research out there, plus even our own research, is something to the tune of 80 [percent to] 90 percent of people use a preview pane," says Kevin Hickey, IHG's global manager of lifecycle and e-mail marketing. "And 60 [percent to] 70 percent of them say they frequently or always use it."
So shortly after starting work on the consolidation in November with its new ESP, Redwood City, Calif.-based e-mail marketing software and services provider StrongMail Systems, IHG tasked Seattle-based e-mail marketing strategy and creative services agency Smith-Harmon, a Responsys company, with redesigning all of IHG's templates to comply with the hotel group's revised e-mail strategy.
"Even if the e-mail's coming from a reputable sender, but nobody's opening up the messages, [the ISPs are] going to start considering, 'Well, people don't like getting messages from this company, and, therefore, we're going to deliver less of it,' " says Aaron Smith, Smith-Harmon's director of creative technologies. "What it's really forcing e-mail marketers to do is make sure that what they send to their subscribers is something that they care about ... They're tweaking the algorithms, but [the ISPs basing e-mail delivery on open rates] really will be going into effect this year."