Positioning Visual Anchors in Your E-Mail Marketing Messages

To visualize where to place your content in your e-mail marketing message, mentally divide your e-mail template into quadrants. You can then position your visual anchors and related content according to how consumers tend to focus their attention on each quadrant.

E-mail marketing experts often use e-mail heat maps to determine which areas of an e-mail are likely to draw the most attention. Research shows that most consumers begin reading in the upper left and then continue either across the page or down the page, depending on the strength and placement of visual anchors.

[Credit: Courtesy of Constant Contact]
Credit: Courtesy of Constant Contact

Because the upper left quadrant tends to get the most attention from consumers, position your most important visual anchors and related content there. That area also appears first on a lot of mobile device screens, so placing your most important content in the upper left insures that customers reading your message on a mobile device get the main point of your email.

Examples of how to use the upper-left quadrant of your e-mail include:

  • Display your brand. Your audience members are more likely to read your e-mail when they recognize the source of the e-mail. Make sure that your business name, logo, and other brand-identifying design elements appear somewhere in the upper left.

  • Begin your e-mail message with a main headline. A main headline doesn’t have to reside completely within the upper left quadrant, but it should at least start there.

  • Include your e-mail’s main call to action. If your e-mail contains valuable offers, make sure your main offer is contained — or at least referenced — in the upper left. If you want audience to read a specific section of your e-mail, use the upper left to tell them where to look.

  • Place the strongest visual anchors. Visual anchors — such as icons, bullets, and graphics — can reinforce your audience’s perception of your most important content. Strong visual anchors in the upper left help minimize how long your audience spends trying to figure out what content is important enough to read.

    [Credit: Courtesy of Constant Contact]
    Credit: Courtesy of Constant Contact
  • Limit the size of images. Images draw attention, but if your image takes up most of the upper-left quadrant, your audience might miss the text associated with that image. If you decide to use an image in the upper left, use one small enough to allow the inclusion of the first few words of a text headline.

  • Show your audience where to look next. If your e-mail includes important content in different quadrants, use navigation links and directions in the upper left to help your audience navigate the e-mail. For example, the e-mail’s upper-left quadrant might contain a table of contents with navigation links.

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