Thursday, March 22, 2007

What do readers look at in your email?

Did you know that people don't just click on links in an email, they click all over the page, even on blank spaces? Or that only about half the people who view an email actually make it to the end?

These are among the findings of a 2006 email Eyetracking Study carried out by Marketing Sherpa as part of its 2007 Email Marketing Benchmark Guide. Just as it sounds, eyetracking measures both how the eyes move around the screen and what they fix on. This information, together with the monitoring of mouse movements, can highlight a number of interesting issues for email marketers. This study revealed some fascinating insights, for example:

- Images are important. An email with a relevant image got double the attention than the same email without: people actually spent longer looking at the words, too.

- Although people tend to click all over the place on at HTML email, text emails focus the reader more and only the links are clicked on

- People don't read whole sentences or headlines. They read the first few words and the brain 'fills in' the rest. The same is true for paragraphs: the first is the most read. So it's worth getting to the point sooner, rather than later

The samples involved in this study were small: eyetracking is still quite a high tech, labour intensive process. And the conclusions are predictably non-committal: yes, the positioning of elements on the page affects how people interact with email. But it all comes down to trialling and testing to see what works best.

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