Monday, February 19, 2007

MarketingSherpa: One Out of Four Consumers Use Preview Panes; 59% Block Email Images

I have always used preview panes whenever I can, mostly at work. At home I use the classic Yahoo mail client, which doesn't have the preview pane available. I would think most people who work in offices handle their email clients the same way.

And now the proof: this MarketingSherpa article confirms that 69% of people view their emails within a preview pane while on the job, but only 27% do so at home, for basically the same reasons I (and possibly you) do.

Part of the issue is availability of course, but there is also a significant minority of people who don't use preview pane even when available to them. 95% or so have preview-pane-capable email clients, while 38% of home users do. That means that roughly 70% of the people who do have preview panes available to them use it, and it's consistent between office users (69/95) as home users (27/38) -- but this also means that almost 1/3 do not use it even if they can. It would be fair to predict that as more folks at home have preview panes made available to them (e.g., as Yahoo's Outlook-like "Beta" view becomes more popularly used), the 70% acceptance rate figure will probably hold firm with the absolute growth.

As with most tech and digital applications, preview pane usage does have a demographic skew: 84% of 18-34s use it, but only 58% of 55+s do. I would guess this is in part due to the older generation's aversion to fully exploring the options available to them in their digital applications, as the default for mail clients is no pane preview.

The article states upfront that 59% of users blocks images, but the chart they show well into the article seems to show the opposite: that only about 41% block images, with the majority of those people being in the 35-54 range. The article also states later within that fewer than 50% block images. So even though the article appears to contradict itself somewhat, it seems safe to take away that roughly half of email users block images.

The implication for email marketers: bring your value proposition immediately to the top of the email, and try to limit images at the top to the degree possible, so that your email recipient does not decide in the 1.4 seconds it takes to scan your email that you have nothing relevant to say, and that your email is too difficult to interpret at first look.

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