- Navigation/Table of Contents
- Primary Offer/Message
- Secondary Child Messages
Traditionally, this area has included a link to the web version of the email as well as a prompt to add the sender's information to the recipient's address book. More recently marketers have been urged to consider adding some teaser text (based on your key call-to-action) as this is often the first piece of text a subscriber will read when an email arrives. Therefore we recommend including your key call-to-action and linking to the appropriate landing page as it will get you clicks.
This is where your branding begins and it should ideally be in line with your website's branding, which in turn should be in line with your branding guidelines. If you're using a simple template which doesn't relate your emails to your brand, you won't grow your awareness and your subscribers might not make the connection when scanning through their emails. The header area can also be a great place for your lead offer. You could also consider using animated GIFs1 to draw attention to any call-to-actions you might place in your header.
Navigation/Table of Contents
Navigation links are often found just below the header. Their purpose is simply to give the reader the direct option of going from the email and onto your website to start browsing other areas of interest. For example, you'll often find this with online stores that use navigation bars to link to various product categories. Important: navigation bars within emails are often a big driver of user engagement2.
You could also consider using this area for a table of contents (ToC) in your email - linking to the primary offer/message or any child messages you might have. Navigation within a lengthy email newsletter is key to keeping the recipient engaged. Remember to use the 'back to top' option within those child messages.
This navigation area could also be the place to locate a prompt to view previous newsletter issues, such as a 'you might have missed' link. Other options include 'update your details', 'forward to a friend', 'share-to-social', 'subscribe' and 'unsubscribe' links. Giving recipients an early option to unsubscribe is not a bad thing. It helps verify trust with the subscriber and keeps your mailing list free of spam complaints.
Your first chance to really pull your subscriber in! Balance your snappy well-written content and related images. You're okay to use very obvious call-to-actions here as you need to be 100% clear exactly what you want your subscribers to do. Make sure that any links you use relate directly to the context; the landing page should contain the information your subscribers are expecting to see if they go ahead and click on the link.
No images? No problem... for B2B newsletters. However, for B2C newsletters entice the click with great looking imagery. Anyone ever heard of 'Apple' by any chance?... Good products made great and highly desirable by exceptional marketing. If you are going to use 'people images' then research shows that recipients follow that person's line of sight so get that stock image person actually looking at something like the main call-to-action button inside your email. Whatever you do though don't produce an email that is just images. Text is text and images are images. Most people will need to download 'blocked images' to see them and you cannot rely on that. Use some nifty, professional templates and you'll be sorted.
Research demonstrates that you have a window of around 3 seconds to ensure your subscriber finds and acts on your main call-to-action. Consider, therefore, putting that nice big button above or at least next to your text content. Include a linked image as well as a text link for the 'images turned off' crowd. One more point if you're selling something. Give people a choice of clicking to view more information as well as going ahead to register/purchase/download. This reflects the fact people often prefer to investigate further before committing. You can also use the stats off these newsletter links to segment your database in the future for targeted e-shots.
Secondary Child Messages
These are optional so don't feel you need to pad out your email with content just for the sake of it. Keep these messages short and clean, making sure it's relevant to the subscriber. Include links within the text as people like to click as they read. Use bold and italics to draw the eye but use sparingly. For example, do not over use bold text for the wrong thing such as your own product. The most effective format is often 25-45 word paragraphs with links to further information or appropriate landing pages.
Secondary messages are often the ideal place for publishing re-written content that might not have worked before. Use your archive of statistics to identify which content/products did not perform so effectively in the past. Try an alternative approach. Although it applies generally research has demonstrated a 68% increase in ROI (return on investment) for people that test to those who do not. Secondary messages are the ideal place to conduct limited and quick testing of ideas.
This is the 'last chance saloon' so make it interesting! Closing notes, a personal sign-off, some supplementary brand links as well as a social bar linking to your presence across social networking sites are all positive impact elements. Remember that your subscriber will be asking "what's in it for me?" and this section offers a further opportunity to reinforce the answer.
An effective use of the footer is to include a subscriber feedback mechanism. Discussed as part of your strategic approach to newsletter creation the logical place to request feedback is at the bottom of the newsletter. Optionally, for B2B newsletters, consider placing feedback links under each story.
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