Email has been a part of digital marketing strategies for a while, and it doesn’t seem to back down any time soon. Trends come and go, new technologies arise, but email campaigns remain one of the main types of interaction with the customer.
However, like with any other communication channel, email is a rather competitive industry. Companies spend a lot of money on content strategies, design improvement, testing, and technical upgrades, and yet good old email usability is still key to click and conversion rates.
Why usability matters
Email usability is all the characteristics of the email that enable people to navigate the message and complete a certain task, be it subscription, purchase, feedback, etc. The better email usability, the easier customers can find the necessary information and perform any activity.
Email usability is typically determined by three factors:
- User friendliness of the design: How easily can a new user browse the email? How conveniently is the content structured? How understandable is the copy? Is intuitive navigation possible? Are all elements located where the user expects to find them?
- Performance convenience: How easily can a user fulfill their needs? Do all CTAs work as intended? Are there broken links or irrelevant information (expired sales, wrong countdown timer, irrelevant offer, contradicting images, etc)?
- Recognizable design pattern. How easily can a user recall the design of the last email, and does it apply to all campaigns? Is there a single communication strategy? Does the email resonate with the overall brand image? Does the email follow a single language strategy?
The answers to these questions determine your overall email strategy performance. If your campaigns are easy to navigate, and are recognizable even without the logo and signatures – just by the mere design and language – you’re moving in the right direction.
If it’s hard to make it even through the first paragraph, chances that people would like to keep the conversation going are small. Today, their Inboxes are flooded with dozens of offers on a daily basis, so retaining the attention is as important as catching it. An opened email doesn’t equal a purchase. It takes 3 to 5 seconds to scan the copy, and if people don’t see the necessary information, they leave. As simple as that.
So how to be smart with email usability and optimize your campaign design. Let’s look at the following practices you may consider employing.
Four tips for email usability optimisation
1. Make a clear copy.
Being creative is awesome; being consistent and logical is priceless. You may have numerous ideas on how to fill your email with wit wording, quotes, references, and jokes, but make sure they’re integrated seamlessly.
In terms of email usability, the writing is better to be clear and understandable rather than clever yet confusing. Don’t use too sophisticated language. Organize your copy in short sentences, 2-3 per paragraph. Stick to a simple structure that is easy to scan and switch to the necessary part.
The same clarity principles apply to the subject line and preheader. Shortly explain what exactly a user would see in the copy, and make sure the subject line corresponds with what’s inside. Nobody likes it when their expectations don’t meet the reality.
2. Optimize the content hierarchy.
Organize the message copy depending on the email type, and in correspondence with the subject line. For example, in a subscription confirmation, a confirm CTA is the first thing that people expect to see, so asking to look at new arrivals with the first line is a little too soon.
On the other hand, in a promo campaign on, let’s say, a software update, you first need to introduce the new product, describe its advantages, maybe provide a how-to instruction, and only then insert a Request demo or Get started CTA.
The content order shouldn’t be confusing or misleading. A well-structured copy is the main component of great email usability.
3. Be smart with CTA.
When it comes to calling buttons, the more the better isn’t always a strategy to follow. No doubt, the goal of any email is to prompt an action, but being too pushy won’t gain you much following.
A CTA should be a logical finishing of the offer: you’ve introduced a new product range and now are inviting to buy; you’ve provided an extra promo code for a friend, and now are asking to forward the message; you’ve described the upcoming conference, introduced its members, stated the location, and now are encouraging to apply for the event. A CTA, whatever the type, should be conditioned by your offer, and help people fulfill their tasks rather than distract and sidetrack.
4. Follow a certain pattern.
If you’ve been running regular automated email campaigns for a while, your audience has probably got used to certain design of your messages, including language, color, CTA placement, etc. Stick to it with all your upcoming campaigns to build brand recognition.
Using the same design model doesn’t mean you can’t unleash your creativity. Test various layout options, button text and color, image format and GIFs, but make sure they sit well within the overall email strategy. If you opt for changes, make one at a time. Usability goes first; creativity second.
Those not new to email marketing have probably come across this information not once. Now, the task is to make sure you do implement it in your campaigns. Usable emails generate satisfied recipients, and satisfied recipients eventually turn into customers. So it’s better to double-check your email templates to ensure they contribute to the seamless user experience.