Adventures in Mobile Marketing

Peer Review: Images Off & Subject Line Testing

My review of notes & takeaways continues, from the 2008 MarketingSherpa Email Summit. One of the most rewarding moments was seeing one of my client’s reactivation campaigns in a presentation- which was a surprise- as an example of good design, for taking into account image suppression, and as an example of an email in Windows Live. The talk was by Elias Haslanger of Dell. In the past, I’ve written about Dell emails with images off- here’s a sample of one, which excels in various ways.

From his talk, these are his recommendations on managing image suppression (full slide set here):
- Email template remains intact with images off
- Action-oriented alternative text with clickable images
- Include click-to-view link at top
- Creative should balance text and images
- No background images
- Use images with discretion
- Keep it under 70K
- Test on all ISPs (webmails, clients, etc.)

Things I would add:
- Simple layout: limited images, limited bullets as images, and spacer GIFs (blank images used for layout)
- Simple, direct alternative text (lately companies have been putting whole paragraphs in there!)
- Use of HTML colors and background colors to convey brand and design (instead of relying solely on images)
- And something I learned in this talk- putting two text-only offers in the header, to push sales even if images don’t load

I received two versions of the KodakGallery email campaign that Elias snipped for his presentation, in Gmail and Yahoo. Note the differences, and various strategies we’re using:

KodakGallery Gmail

KodakGallery in Gmail

KodakGallery in Yahoo BETA
KodakGallery in Yahoo

- We also have a “add to address book” and a “click to view HTML”- both of which are redundant with Gmail (currently – 02/08), but in the Yahoo version you see that it’s necessary.
- We have colored background boxes to set apart some of our layout.
- Branding, and relevant offer content all in the preview pane
- We make a choice either to put headlines in images for font control, or use text, and alternative text. We’re still grappling with balancing design and image suppression requirements
- We could improve- like Dell has- and remove the link underlining with CSS (text-decoration: none) and using ASCII marks for bullets (“-” or “<" or other interesting, available ASCII characters)
- With images off, it looks like we haven't created alternative text for that main banner image, and we could add a descriptive, but it is usually a landscape, or cityscape photo. Read on for Elias' comments on this piece.

In all, our preview pane content is broken up and shown in text, which conveys a teaser to our content and an intriguing reason to either approve our images or click through to view in a web site.

In the talk, Elias used our email to show how Windows LIVE displays a "safe/unsafe" mode to messages and the link to view in a web page, as well as "add to address book." Another, thing I've seen lately, in an eHarmony email (sorry I've deleted it!) is to target your customers by their domain and email them specifically asking to be added, and how to do it.

KodakGallery in WindowsLive

When our email went on the huge screen, I didn’t recognize it as one of ours, and instead was just focusing on those darned bullet GIFs. Then my colleague elbows me, a couple of times, and pointed at the screen. Finally I figured out it was one of our campaigns, and we were joking that through the segmentation we could tell Elias’ recent un-responsiveness to our email campaigns. After the talk, Elias mentioned that what stuck out for him in this campaign wasn’t the management of design and image suppression, but our subject line.

Small Victory: Subject Line Testing
Sometimes you have a good idea, and sometimes you just have to test. We setup this very low-cost campaign with recycled content, a newsletter, and then tested about 10 different subject lines on a sample set of the total drop. The highest performing was the one shown above “Is it something we said?” (My submission was, “Hello? Tap, tap, tap”… too subtle perhaps.) then we dropped the rest of the campaign with the winner. Elias said, “This subject line made waves- people were forwarding it around.” Better words couldn’t have been heard! We replied that we were pretty amazed at the metrics that we got back from this campaign, as we basically hadn’t been expecting much, and these segments were generally write-offs. So it just goes to show that the “long tail” can have big rewards.

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Written on Thursday, 28. February 2008 at 20:49 In the category EmailSummit, images off, subject lines. Follow the comments via RSS here: RSS-Feed. Share on FriendFeed

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1 Comment

  1. [...] Here are several resources regarding designing for “images off” situations: Make Email Look Good In Gmail – 8 Design Tips for Images-Off Review: 10 Emails with Images-Off Peer Review: Images Off & Subject Line Testing [...]

    Pingback: Blog about Contactology - Web-based email marketing software » Blog Archive » Looking Good… Even When Gmail Blocks Your Images – 13. March 2008 @ 11:58 am

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