Eye-tracking studies have been around for some time and offer fascinating insights into how readers view emails and web pages. These studies closely monitor where the eye looks and how long it lingers there, producing heat maps that are incredibly informative for marketers. These eye-tracking insights will help you create more effective emails that cater perfectly to the way viewers look at their screens.
Photos can offer major directional cues
If your email includes a photo of a person or an animal, you should select it carefully. While you probably put a lot of time and attention into choosing an attractive subject and an image that conveys your overall message, what you’re probably missing is the picture’s directional cues.
The next time you’re looking for an image like this, consider where the photo’s subject is looking. If it’s gazing directly back at the viewer, chances are that the viewer will return the gaze by staring into the subject’s face. Eye-tracking studies have shown that viewers tend to follow the gaze of the subject they’re looking at.
Try a photo where the subject is looking to the side, effectively gazing at the text that you want the viewer to see. An image of a photo subject who is looking out of the frame in the direction of the call to action will draw the viewer’s eye there as well.
Content must flow with appeal
Each and every “screenful” that a viewer takes in when reading your email must convince them to keep going. If the content at the top isn’t appealing enough, the viewer will never move further down. It’s important to note that 80% of viewers will read content only above the fold. Eye-tracking studies show that navigational elements do best when incorporated into the body of the email. Isolating them at the top is less effective because email readers aren’t accustomed to looking along the top of the message for navigational tools.
If your email is long, include a table of contents at the top with links to the features contained further down. This allows the reader to quickly scan what’s in the message and jump right to the section that’s most interesting to them. Without this element, the reader may lose interest before reaching the section that would have drawn him or her in.
Readers browse in an F pattern
Readers tend to read in an F-shaped pattern, first, by scanning the top of the page where the heading or greeting is likely to be. Next, the reader scans across the first paragraph or two, forming the second bar of the “F.” Last, the reader scans along the left side of the page, probably taking in subheadings and other call-outs.
You can use this information to your advantage when you’re designing email marketing campaigns by including the most important information at the very top of the page. Make sure subheadings or call-out text utilize key words and phrases. You should place valuable information here rather than a vague statement that won’t offer any new insights.
Consider the difference between “The email test had a higher conversion rate” and “The email test conversion rate came in at 20% higher” One is vague and uninteresting while the other communicates a powerful fact.
Hand drawn messages are effective
Hand drawn notes and arrows are very effective at grabbing the viewer’s attention. These little graphics give the page an informal feel and make readers feel as though the personal notes were added just for them. Add these doodles to your marketing messages and you can direct the reader’s gaze exactly where you want it to go. Just make sure you use both a note and an arrow. Without the arrow, your message will get across, but the user won’t have any direction about where to look next.
Media grabs all the attention
If your emails include images of any kind, you should be aware of the impact that they’re having on the text in the message. Media of all types is an attention hog when it comes to eye tracking. Viewers focus on videos and pictures more than text. Combine this with the fact that they only look at an email newsletter for an average of 51 seconds and you have a compelling reason to consider limiting your visual goodies.
If you want the text in your message to get serious consideration, don’t place it below a flashy piece of media. If you do include images, consider placing your call to action on them, so the attractive image is actually drawing the reader’s eye to the message you want to send.
Viewers spend 69 percent of time looking left
On a web page, the viewer spends 69 percent of their time looking at the left hand side of the page. The eye naturally drifts left and gives this area more attention than the rest. Use this insight in your email marketing campaigns by making sure the most important information and call to action are on the left, not in a side bar along the right. Leave the right column of your newsletter for less important items, recognizing that many viewers probably won’t register what’s taking up space on this half of the page much at all.
These insights will help you build a better email that will make the most of the viewer’s unconscious browsing habits.