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Where Does “Above the Fold” Fit into Email Marketing?

There’s definitely not a lot of love lost between the worlds of email and print marketing. After all, with the rise of this form of digital advertising and the fact that more brands than ever want to connect with consumers via the inbox, it’s easy to see why newspapers and other publications are feeling the pinch when it comes to the dipping value of open ad space. However, just because email marketing is the current top dog doesn’t mean that we can’t learn a thing or two from the more traditional variations of connecting with customers. With this in mind, let’s dig into the concept of “above the fold” marketing and find out if it has a spot in your next campaign.

Understanding the Concept Behind “Above the Fold”

For those readers out there that aren’t familiar with print marketing lingo, it’s necessary to establish a proper definitely of what “above the fold” means before diving headfirst into the discussion. As Web 1’s Internet marketing glossary explains, headlines and advertisements placed above the physical fold of the newspaper naturally attract more attention than offerings positioned on the opposing side of the publication.

Digging a little deeper into this definition unveils a slightly more philosophical approach to understanding the “above the fold” mentality. Aside from making sense from a logistics standpoint, advertising in this region during the peak years of newspaper readership became a prestigious endeavor reserved only for premier brands. Basically, if your business acquired this kind of ad space during this era of advertising, there was no question that your organization had made it to the big time.

Does This Translate to Email Marketing?

Obviously, the connection between what “above the fold” means in the email marketing world and realm of print advertising doesn’t necessarily translate at a one-to-one ratio. The big difference here is that you’re not competing with other brands for prime email real estate since your brand controls what goes into these messages.

Instead, “above the fold” marketing in terms of what goes on in the inbox is all about maximizing the limited real estate of the preview pane, according to Ciara Gill of Business 2 Community. Much like the finite resource of page space above the physical fold for newspapers, the preview pane generated by email service clients like Gmail and Yahoo provides you with a limited platform to spread your message, so it’s vital to the health of your campaign that you put your best foot forward with your message previews.

Maximizing the Most Important Portion of Your Emails

So what can you do to maximize your email preview panes and boost open rates? As Heather Fletcher of Target Marketing Magazine explains, it all starts with keeping your preheaders short, both in text length and font size. Preheaders are often the first thing viewers on either mobile or desktop platforms see in the preview pane, so making sure this text doesn’t take up too much real estate and block out the rest of your message is essential. Instead of writing a novel for this portion of your email, think of it as a chance to use one or two sentences to reinforce your subject line, drawing the reader in and leading them to your call-to-action.

From here, Fletcher goes on to suggest using HTML instead of imbedded graphics whenever possible. With so many email service providers suppressing images as part of the ongoing fight against spam, using HTML coding can help you avoid the dreaded “empty box” disaster that comes with images not rendering in the preview pane. Additionally, making sure you find a way to fit your logo into this portion of the message adds a level of familiarity and trust to the email. Otherwise, don’t be surprised when customers don’t respond well to a message from a source that’s not easily identified and differentiated from spam.

The last part of maximizing this preview comes with fitting in the most important pieces of content into the remaining space. By pushing extraneous and supporting information to beneath the preview pane “fold,” you can send a powerful message to consumers by highlighting the valuable content held within. Whether it’s a summary of what’s inside the message or a table of contents that directs newsletter readers to their favorite sections, avoiding wasted space with fluff can drastically improve your preview pane performance. With these tips, as well as everything else you’ve learned about putting the “above the fold” approach to good use, there’s nothing stopping your brand from making a major splash with readers who can’t wait to see your next email.

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About Victor Green

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