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Seeing the Light… Light Email Design

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Could “less is more” be the advice you need for your next campaign? It’s possible.

Here are a few facts to consider:

  • The consumer attention span is 8 seconds
  • The average pharma email has an open rate of 20%.
  • Most emails (54% to 66%) are opened on a mobile device, not a desktop.

The vast majority of emails are never opened, and those that are opened have fewer than 8 seconds on a tiny screen to catch the attention of your reader. Whether that reader is a patient, physician, caregiver, payer, or another stakeholder, you have quite a challenge to reach them.

Light Is More
Here’s one way to do it: go light. Light on the images, that is. Is that an odd thing to hear from a marketing agency full of great designers? Perhaps. But it might be the right solution for you.

We said it in 2014, and it’s still true today: email deliverability cannot suffer at the expense of user experience. Studies have found that emails with a low image-to-text ratio — MailChimp recommends a ratio of 80% text to 20% images — outperform ones with more HTML and imagery.

This is probably in part because email service providers’ filtering of marketing emails catches image-heavy emails and labels them as spam. Spam emails often use images of text, rather than actual text, in an attempt to evade filters that would catch certain words.

Further contributing to the failure-to-open problem, email messages that contain slow-to-load images result in fewer click-through and conversion rates. What’s more, if a user has images “turned off” for email, that can make for an unsightly and incomplete-looking email message.

 
Don’t Forget Mobile
By 2018, 80% of email users are expected to check email on their mobile devices, so it’s critical that marketers design responsive email messages that reach their target audiences. As Oracle put it, “In this landscape, marketers need to be mindful of the mobile user experience. This means being mobile friendly not only in design, but also in accommodating the limited data plans, slow networks, and the various behaviors of the mobile email clients as part of the overall user experience.”

Size Matters
For some campaigns, depending on your audience and your goals, smaller image sizes and text-focused design can increase delivery into inboxes, improving your exposure and engagement. Including descriptive alt-text with images (for example, “Photo of woman with cell phone”) is also a must-do practice, since readers can get a better idea of the email’s content, even with images turned off.

Don’t Not Use Images, and Don’t Go It Alone
We’re certainly not suggesting that you swear off everything but plain-text emails — images are useful, and you should absolutely incorporate them in your email campaigns. A variety of tests that take into account the demographics and proclivities of your audience and test a range of solutions can help determine which course of action is right for you. Reach out to your account team if you’d like to talk about how light email can benefit your brand.

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