Sneak Peek Update

This week, through an article in DMNews titled “Inside the inbox: What are your customers really seeing?,” we revealed some preliminary results from a study we’re conducting with thousands of email users.

One of the areas we covered was the use of preview panes, which has always been a blind spot for email marketers. Yet it’s important to understand since it dramatically impacts the user’s email experience (do they see the message in a full window or just a snippet along the top or side?).

There are two ways to quantify use of preview panes – by % of users that utilize them or by % of messages read that way. The numbers in the DMNews article are based on % of messages read in the preview pane for each email client. It’s useful (and maybe more important) to understand the % of users that utilize the feature. So, here’s a side-by-side comparison of the two –

   

Use of preview pane

  Email client

% of users

% of messages

  AOL webmail

2%

2%

  Earthlink

0%

0%

  Gmail

0%

0%

  Outlook

81%

72%

  Outlook Express

78%

71%

  Windows Live Hotmail

32%

13%

  Yahoo! Mail

58%

56%

  Yahoo! Mail Classic

0%

0%

Note that Earthlink, Gmail and Yahoo! Mail Classic do not support a preview pane.

While some of the email clients (AOL, Yahoo! Mail) have similar preview ratios for both users and messages, note the moderate difference (1.1X) for Outlook and Outlook Express users and the huge difference (2.5X) for Windows Live Hotmail users. There is a common thread – for all clients, the % of users who read messages in the preview pane is higher than the % of messages read that way.

What’s the takeaway? Don’t waste effort and potential impact by ignoring one of the primary ways consumers interact with email – designing for digestion in the preview pane is critical.

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