Text Trumps Images for Web Consumers
Content relevance drives most consumer clickthroughs on email messages, but the rates generated by graphical elements fail to match up to click-through levels of their written-text counterparts, according to Jupiter Research's "E-mail Marketing Content Best Practices: Identifying the Impact of Content on Response Behavior." More than half of the survey's respondents, 54 percent, ranked products/services featured as influencing their email response behavior; 40 percent noted written copy; and 35 percent indicated the subject line as elements that affect response behavior. However, just 12 percent tapped a single, large image, while 9 percent classified multiple, smaller images as influential elements. These stats are from an October 2005 Jupiter Research/Ipsos-Insight consumer survey of 1,166 online recipients of promotional or email newsletters.
"While a picture is usually worth a thousand words, this isn't the case with email, in part because of image blocking issues with many of the major ISPs and email clients," says David Daniels, research director at Jupiter Research and primary author of the report. "Consumers react to text because it is often the first or only thing that the see in an email." However, the source of the slight percentage-point difference between written copy and the subject line lies in the purpose of the latter: "The subject line is usually best reserved to tease but not fully inform the reader," Daniels says. "While promotional subject lines may spur users to open the email, it would appear that consumers still largely need to be sold, or convinced of the benefits of reacting to a particular piece of content or promotion. Clearly written text appears has more of an influence on consumers than simple subject lines that do not fully describe the context or benefits of the subject."
More findings reveal compelling offers (e.g., discounts) received the fourth highest response with 33 percent, while search box within an email charted 6 percent, followed by only 3 percent noting that they receive text-only email. "The small numbers that are still using text can be explained by those consumers that still use older email software, which a multipart message will deliver the text alternative," Daniels says.
The report also provides a handful of email content best practices that organizations can implement:
Test to identify creative ideas that resonate.
Use direct marketing print concepts, but not all ideas will work online.
Stay above the fold.
Understand rendering challenges of specific email clients.
To boost response rates, Daniels suggests that markets target by response behavior. "Marketers should not be so fascinated by the 10 percent of people that might click, they should be focusing on the 90 percent that are not clicking," he says. "Marketers have to do a better job of diving into those non-responders and if necessary ultimately suppressing addresses that are inactive."
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