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Short & Sweet: Embrace the Preview Pane

Our pals over at TargetX (a higher-ed email marketing firm) have hit it on the head again with some great advice.

They remind us that many email programs (Outlook and Thunderbird included) have a "Preview Pane" - a window that shows the top couple inches of an email... easily allowing the reader to skip ahead.

That's right: Many of your readers won't dig in past the first few sentences of those long emails you send.

But instead of fearing the preview pane, marketers should embrace it. They should imagine all their recipients have preview ability, and then write accordingly. ...

Too many promotional emails start off like a long, leisurely, we-want-you-to-get-to-know-us letter of a bygone era. ...

Imagine if some company got your name from a realtor and sent you an email that opened with, "Congratulations on your decision to look for a new house. The prospect of finding a new place to live is exciting, and many opportunities and experiences await you." You'd probably hit delete before even glancing at a second paragraph.

That approach breaks two important rules -- number 1, don't tell readers what they already know, and number 2, hurry up and explain what's in it for them. Make sure your first couple lines give a preview of what follows -- and make sure what follows is relevant to the reader.

True, true. Keep it short. Keep it sweet.

Ponder how you behave with email in your inbox - and remind yourself that everyone else does it the same way, too. Click, scan, delete; click, scan, file away; click, scan, delete; click, scan, reply; etc.

If your email doesn't work in the first three seconds, it's not going to work.

Posted on February 3, 2006 in
email strategy.