Email Marketing: What will it look like in the preview pane?

Email Marketing and the Preview PaneSince Microsoft introduced the image blocking feature in Outlook 2003, the question that every email marketer should be asking is, “What will this email look like in the preview pane?” It’s surprising to find that four years on, we’re still seeing emails like the example to the left.

I drew a blank when I saw this from Borders Australia in my email preview pane. It took me about 1/2 a second to delete the email, even though I love shopping at Borders.

Email Marketing - Preview Pane with ImagesAs you can see from this capture of the email with images downloaded, it’s a classic case of form over function. Email marketing should be about content that is important to your customers, not just design and branding.

By our definition of content, “useful information“, a banner design is not content when it hasn’t downloaded yet.

So the question is, will this lack of content have an impact on email open, click through and conversion rates? You bet! What many email marketers forget is that:

Email is a time sensitive medium.

It’s likely that you will receive many emails like this everyday. Even if you see an email from a brand as strong as Borders, you’ll still look for a compelling, relevant reason to read on…

There are some questions that you should immediately ask about your email marketing:

  • Where and when is the reader going to get the email?
  • Is the content of the email relevant to the reader?
  • Can the reader pick up the scent of relevance from the preview pane without downloading anything?

If the reader can’t pick up the scent in 1/2 a second, then it may be time to rethink your email marketing execution.


About Brett Gilbertson

If you are looking for help in your online lead generation strategies, then give Bitemark a call on 03 9012 6600. Bitemark specialises in lead generation websites and driving targeted traffic through search engine optimisation (seo).


  1. […] check out Brett’s Conversion Rate blog.  If you want to read more about preview panes, click here.  If you’d like examples of really bad ones, click here.  If you would rather find […]

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