I talk a lot about how to design marketing emails so that they 1) reach the inbox, 2) get opened, and 3) get read. I cover those topics at length in my book, and read what other people have to say on the subject often.
I think that the rules are changing in this area, faster than a lot of people can keep up with. The other day I read a blog post about creating effective emails that aimed at destroying common myths and giving a simple 3 step approach to creating the perfect email. While I did not necessarily disagree with the points this person made, one of their tips struck me as odd as it was the first time I really saw it.
It went something like this, “design for a horizontal preview pane.”
If you’re designing for a preview pane, you’re designing for Outlook (or similar desktop based email clients). In the past, Outlook was far and away the most used email client, and this advice would have been all you needed. But in today’s world, where so many people read their email via smartphones and online email clients (see Gmail or Yahoo), does the preview pane tip even apply?
I went digging around for answers and here is what I could come up with.
- Campaign Monitor published stats on email usage that show that Outlook is still the most popular email client being used today, with almost 28% of the total market. iOS Devices are a surprising #2, followed by Hotmail, Apple Mail, Yahoo, and Gmail.
- Outlook and other desktop-based email clients essentially use Microsoft Word to generate and display the email whereas most other email clients use an actual browser, therefore conventional CSS doesn’t always apply in Microsoft Office. That said, it’s generally accepted that if it renders correct in Outlook, it will render correct in most every email client, online or off.
Therefore, if you’re an email marketer, it might still make sense to design your emails for Outlook as the email client. However, this is less because of the preview pane theory, and more because of #2 above. As online and mobile email consumption continues to increase, Outlook’s ownership in this category will continue to decrease (perhaps only being saved by large businesses who still install Outlook on everyone’s computer).
Enough from me, I want to hear from you. How do you read your email most often?