Study: BTB Readers Don't Open E-Mails

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Recipients of business-to-business e-mails rarely open their messages -- they simply look at them in a preview window -- and don't download images in e-mails, according to a new survey.


E-mail technology firm EmailLabs, Menlo Park, CA, found that 69 percent of BTB e-mail newsletter subscribers frequently or always use the preview pane -- which is 2 to 5 inches tall or long -- instead of opening the e-mail. If insufficient information is displayed in the pane, 19 percent will delete the e-mail.


And 49 percent of e-mail readers look only at the first few lines of the preview pane to decide whether to continue reading the message.


"This survey confirms our suspicions that a large percentage of BTB e-mail subscribers do not download images and prefer to scan or read their e-mails within the preview pane, and never fully open the e-mail," said Loren McDonald, vice president of marketing at EmailLabs.


The study also found that nearly 53 percent of BTB customers' ISPs or e-mail service providers automatically block images, and 45 percent don't download images that appear within the pane.


In addition, 50 percent of e-mail subscribers said they rarely or never place an e-mail address on their e-mail client's safe sender list.


As a result, EmailLabs recommends that BTB marketers redesign their e-mails so recipients can see important information in the preview pane. The company suggested:


· The top of e-mails should include a 2- to 3-inch preview pane header area that is HTML and text only -- no images. The header area should include key offers, article teasers and "In This Issue" information so the reader can decide whether to keep reading.


Publishers may want to test using HTML/text-based ads in this area and consider charging a premium to advertisers, based on the increase in impressions, according to a statement from EmailLabs.


· Design e-mail templates so both content blocks and ads can be viewed entirely within a 2- to 3-inch window.


· Minimize the use of images unless necessary. Instead, use HTML fonts, colors and backgrounds when possible to liven up the e-mail.


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