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In the time I have been in email marketing I have seen literally thousands of email campaigns pass along in email clients, from shameful to brilliant and from questionable to thought provoking. After seeing so many of them you get sort of a hunch what could be wrong or right with one within a few seconds after viewing one (with images on, in this case). But I never view a message once: always take a second or even third look, to see if first impression will stay or will change. The rare, medium or well done points to how ‘digestable’ an email is: does it view and read easy, does the message actually come across to the viewer? If a message is in the rare category, it is not necessarily a bad thing: it could mean people have put in effort to make it worth reading instead of glancing, which could mean no fancy graphics and more text as content, but that text is presented in a good manner. Well done in this comparison doesn’t (have to) mean it’s a great message: just that you can digest the content in a matter of seconds, so to speak.

To put my thoughts into perspective, here’s an example of the last category: well done. It’s a recent message from Ralph Lauren showing new Spring collection pieces:

As you can see, almost all of the message space is taken up by two pictures to lure in the audience to click through to the product. No pricing, no order now buttons: just shop and visit – the bar is low for entry. Not much to read and a low impact on one’s time: well done, fast food. Is this a bad thing? In this case it certainly is not: the faster and clearer the message is brought across the better, a viewer will feel it hasn’t taken too much of their time.

Now that it is clear what I mean with well done, let’s take a look at the other side of the email spectrum: a rare message, one that is not easily digestible. This one is a reminder for a webinar, with images taking a back seat to the text:

There are only 4 images here: two logos, an example of stats and the register now button. There’s quite some text here, but is that a bad thing? In this case I think it’s not, because the text is informative and tells you why you should register for the webinar: it tells you what you will learn from it for example and that is quite important to convey in a message. A different product to sell than Ralph Lauren’s example above, but it’s just as important that the message comes across. The Ralph Lauren email will roughly take a few seconds to take in and land (unless you’re on a slow wireless connection) while the above example will probably take half a minute to a full minute. Quite a difference in time, so the value for the reader should be clear as soon as possible. One big plus for the ‘rare’ email is that the register now button is top left: one surefire way to get as many people registered for the webinar as possible, compared to just putting a text link at the bottom of all the textual information.

To summarize, it depends on your message whether you as a sender will send a rare, medium or well done email: not all brands, products and topics can be covered and presented by imagery. However a good balance between text and imagery is needed to make it worthwile for the reader to read it in full and most importantly get your message across.

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