You might already be familiar with the term “white space.” It is the area of a page left unmarked or unfilled. It can be space between the headline and the body text, between columns, or graphics. Even space between the content on the page and the edge of the page can be considered “white space.”
There are two important reasons to focus on white space. First, it’s good design that balances your message with clarity and legibility. It gives your eye a moment to rest between thoughts, and can visually lead the reader from content to action. Second, it’s preferred by many readers. With shrinking attention spans and overflowing inboxes, recipients no longer have the patience for copy-heavy emails, or pages crammed full of products and descriptions. Thoughtful use of white space creates a more flexible layout, which flows more easily from desktop to tablet to mobile devices.
Of course, more white space equals less content. Pull out the most important concepts from your message and prioritize. The most important concept should take top billing. White space can highlight an important message and call it to the reader’s attention better than bold or underlines. Make the rest of your message concise and remove unnecessary details. Create interest that will drive the reader to click on the link back to your full website for more information.
Add white space around your buttons and between your links. This makes navigation easier on a small screen for big fingers. The ability to click on your button without having to enlarge the page makes the end user experience more pleasant, and may increase clicks simply because they are easier to accomplish. With more white space your buttons can be smaller, creating a more elegant design approach.
Rescue your email from the power of the delete button. I am one of those readers who sees an inbox full of marketing messages and starts ruthlessly deleting anything ugly. But I open the ones that look interesting, or beautiful. White space can catch the reader’s eye in that split second. A page crammed full of text or graphics looks busy, cluttered, and tiring to read. If you can create interest with a simple design, you make a great first impression that just might keep your emails from being deleted in the future.
I had a design professor who called white space a “holiday for the eye.” When creating hand illustrations he instructed his students to leave little gaps within areas of solid color. He simply called these white spaces “holidays.” This concept translated to digital means providing a thoughtful use of white space in your emails. Simplify your message and your design. Spark interest with less copy, leading your reader to click through links for more information. Think of your audience and make it easier for them to read your message on a variety of devices and click buttons or links with less hassle.
I’d like a little holiday with every email, wouldn’t you?
These email newsletters have a great use of white space:
Clickable buttons have long been used on email marketing campaigns to help emphasize calls-to-action such as “Read More” or “Buy Now.” Today, the rise of smartphone and tablet users reading email on their devices has made the use of buttons a key component of mobile optimization. The improved click accuracy of a large button compared to a text link is a win-win for marketers and their recipients, driving traffic effectively and reducing the poor user experience often caused by trying to click a specific link out of a crowded group of text links on a touchscreen.
If you’ve avoided the use of buttons in your campaigns because you weren’t comfortable designing the images, one handy (and free) resource I’ve used in the past is dabuttonfactory.com. While certainly not the same as going through a professional web designer, using this tool can help you produce nice-looking buttons for use with your campaigns, allowing for a good deal of customization with regards to size, colors, text, and square vs rounded corners.
People have traditionally looked at the coming of a new year as an opportunity for self-improvement and a fresh perspective. Why not apply this concept to your email program? Here are some ideas to get you started:
Try Something New
This is a great time to freshen up the look of your email messages if you’ve been using the same templates for some time. You don’t have to completely revamp your messages – just a few slight changes can help combat “email fatigue”. Consider changing a masthead graphic or updating the colors in your template while still retaining the format your readers are used to. SubscriberMail users can upload their own custom HTML layouts using our Studio Templates feature. If you are using a SubscriberMail template and would like a refreshed look, don’t hesitate to contact us. Graphics and colors can be made editable so that you can swap them out whenever inspiration strikes.
Testing provides a great opportunity to learn something about your readers’ preferences. First, it’s important to define what you are trying to learn. For example, “Do my customers respond better to a discount offer or to a free shipping offer in the subject line?” Then split your list accordingly, send the different email versions to the appropriate list segments and evaluate the response. The SubscriberMail tool makes this easy with its built-in list splitting and message copying functions.
Improve Your Visibility
More and more people are reading their emails on mobile devices, and adding some mobile-friendly design elements can help. Stated simply, it’s harder to read and click messages on a tiny screen. So using single-column designs, making buttons large and visible, not stacking hyperlinks vertically on top of each other and avoiding small fonts and walls of text will make things easier for your readers. You might even consider creating a separate “mobile friendly” version of your email message and linking to it up at the top of your message, next to your “view in a browser” link.
Do you have a favorite Email New Year’s Resolution? Share it with us in the comments section below.
Welcome again to The First 2 Weeks, where we analyze 3 competitors’ email marketing strategies when it is most crucial… the opt-in process, welcome message, and first few campaigns as these marketers attempt to establish relationships with subscribers.
In our last edition we evaluated the opt-in process and welcome messages for 3 competitors in the luxury car segment: Jaguar, Mercedes, and Porsche. In part 2 we will now investigate campaigns sent beyond the welcome email and preference editing options.
Within the first 2 weeks only Jaguar sent an email beyond any welcome communications to capitalize on this opportunity to establish a solid foundation with subscribers. This first email was received just over 24 hours after opt-in, and it was fairly important that Jaguar send this message quickly since they had been one of the competitors who did not deploy a welcome message.
This email relied heavily upon images, an issue that was made even worse since they did not employ alt tags to convey what the reader is missing. Thus, when this message is viewed with images off, it appears very blank within the top portion of the preview pane.
Jaguar did incorporate a text area in the message, however it is too low in the design to offset the damage done in the top area. The email does include a couple best practice-related items by utilizing personalization. They bring in both the subscriber’s first name and identify the email address the message was intended for. As noted in past reviews, listing this email address can assist in reducing a subscriber’s confusion in cases of old email addresses that have been forwarded, etc.
EMAIL PREFERENCE OPTIONS
Mercedes appears to provide the most options for subscribers of these 3 competitors, as even though we did not receive an email, we can make some assumptions based on their website. When you view the “Policies” area, you can then navigate to the “Manage Email Subscriptions” section. When you enter in your email address it pulls up all of the preferences that you selected selected during opt-in, allowing you to make updates as needed.
Jaguar doesn’t feature any preference options, only including an unsubscribe link which doesn’t lead to any of the numerous fields that subscribers enter during opt-in.
As we did not receive an email beyond the opt-in confirmation message from Porsche, we cannot evaluate their typical preference options. Within the confirmation email there was not even an unsubscribe link (as it was a transactional-type email), thus we needed to explore the website extensively to find the unsubscribe functionality. This requires a multi-step process – clicking on “Dialog and Newsletter”, then “Porsche Newsletter”, then the “Subscribe” link (a fairly odd link to have to click in order to reach an unsubscribe capability!), and then hitting an unsubscribe link on the far left which allows you to finally enter your email address for them to remove. We would assume for CAN-SPAM compliance that their usual email marketing methods include at least a clear unsubscribe link on messages beyond this confirmation email.
Watch for our next edition in the coming weeks in which we will evaluate the campaigns of 3 new competitors!