Some hard numbers on preview panes and image blocking in consumer emails

As a nice follow up to Mark’s research into the current state of image blocking in email last week, I just came across an interesting study from MarketingSherpa via Tamara’s blog.

They surveyed 1,323 consumers over 18 to find out their email viewing preferences in regards to image blocking and preview panes. We already know preview panes are extremely popular in the B2B market because of the popularity of Outlook, but it’s important to note this survey was targeted specifically at the consumer market.

A full 38% of online consumers now use preview pane ‘capable’ email clients and 64% of people who are offered preview panes start using them as their default… Can you imagine if people judged your print ads by just a corner of the creative? Or your TV ads by just a few frames? That’s what’s increasingly happening with email.

Consistent with our recommendations back in November 2005, this great comparison really drives home the importance of ensuring the best bits of your email are at least visible in a preview pane.

To get an idea of exactly which corner many subscribers will be seeing, they also asked the type of preview pane being used. Turns out that just like business email users, home email users also favour the horizontal preview pane, which makes sense considering that’s the most popular default in those email clients that offer one. Because of this, it’s safe to assume that the most important content in your email should be at the top of your email, and preferably top-left to get the best of both types of preview panes.

Another interesting find was that between 35-50% of consumers have images off by default in their email clients. Of course, a percentage of those surveyed would enable images for safe senders and images would still be displayed automatically if you were in their address book. Check out the rest of the survey for the nitty gritty.

Posted by David Greiner


  • TheMAN
    21st February

    Exactly!  I remember reading Ogilvy many years ago and his advice is as relevant today as then.  This is of coarse advice he gave for newspaper ads. 

    To paraphrase:  If you can’t grab the readers attention with a head line and caption and make the sell in the first paragraph everything else will be ignored.

    Images have been abused so by default people disable them.  I do, and I rarely even will save one to see what it is.  Images have never been a replacement for good copy.  An image is quickly recognized and ignored if the brains filter determines it is advertising, it was true in news print and even more so in online advertising. 

    Spend the money on a good copy writer and leave images for impact which will likely be disabled by the modern consumer.

  • Darren Nicholls
    22nd February

    More interesting facts! Thanks guys. Personally, I like email newsletters to be short and sweet - shame some of my customers don’t think like me ;)

    I suppose this study can also be tied in with the release of Outlook 2007, image based newsletters need to be toned down but good use of colour and layout can still be done. I would agree with TheMan, it’s really about providing good, well written content; which if done write will attract people’s attention.

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