Elliot Ross is the Managing Director of Action Rocket, a creative studio for the email channel. He helps brands, agencies and email platforms get the best from their email marketing activities, by producing creative strategy, design and development that works for their audience. Below Elliot shares his thoughts on email marketing and the dreaded fold.
I’ve written about the fold in email marketing before, in 2012. Back then I mentioned that every now and again, marketers will pop their heads up and start worrying about it. It appears that now is one of those times so it seems relevant to bring these points back to light, and reiterate why you shouldn’t really be worrying.
What is ‘the fold’?
Simply put, you open an email and the fold is whatever you can see on your screen without having to scroll; this will vary with each device. As a result, marketers end up trying to cram as much information and CTA’s (call to action) above this mythical fold and it’s an issue, here’s why…
The problem with the digital fold
‘The Fold’ is a term that originates from print, specifically newspapers, where there is an obvious fold; in fact newspapers are almost always folded by default. Editors ended up placing their biggest headlines in the top half so it was the first thing potential buyers would see, in hope to maintain market share and maximising sales. Whereas on a digital device, scrolling comes easily (some people actually enjoy scrolling) so is it really as important for email as it is for print? Sure, we sometimes notice increased clicks at the top of campaigns than lower down, but this should be because you’re putting the most relevant and interesting content as the main focus for your subscribers, not just by chance.
Refrain from trying to put everything above the fold
Marketers have migrated to the email channel from print, and never really let go of the ‘above the fold’ mentality. I previously made the point that in print there’s a fold, and in email there’s a preview pane, so they should probably be considered equal. It’s important to remember that in direct marketing, it’s acceptable to use the first page as a teaser for the content within, so why in email can’t we do the same?
It’s impossible to act properly upon anyway
It’s easy to identify where a fold is on a newspaper, email is a bit more difficult…
You’ll have one fold on one device and it will be in a different place on another. It could be 600px down on a desktop client, 300px down in a webmail client, or 150px down on a mobile device. It could also be half way along the page, if the user has a vertical preview pane. If you’re like me, then you can see almost everything with your massive iMac screen.
So what should we do?
Of course, it makes sense to make your most important offer the most prominent, my message here is that it should probably just be the one, it should be clear, concise and easy for your readers to convert. It’s not too much to ask is it?