Eye Tracking Research in Email Marketing

Think back to the last marketing email you received – can you remember what caught your attention first?

Understanding how eye tracking works can help you to improve the content and overall effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns.
Companies can spend thousands of pounds investigating and tracking users eye movements to record what they’re looking at when opening emails. Having the ability to understand where recipients are initially drawn to can determine how to construct your email and where certain components should be placed.

Unfortunately, not every business has the budget for this type of research or software. With this in mind, and to help users of our own email marketing software, we’ve pulled together some key points to gain insight into the eye movements of recipients and how to make use of this information when building your email marketing campaigns.

Eye Scanning Patterns

The ‘F’ Pattern

There have been multiple experiments surrounding this pattern where users sweep from left-to-right a couple of times and then downwards in an ‘F’ shape. This is linked to the natural reading flow of our language being in a left-to-right direction.

From this we have learnt that the left-hand side of an email is actively looked at more than the right-hand side, so the most important pieces of information should be placed on the left.

The ‘Z’ Pattern

There is also a ‘Z’ pattern. This is similar to the ‘F’ pattern, however, the route users take to look at information is in the shape of a ‘Z’ instead. This can be implemented if you are wanting to have a slightly more adventurous layout.

This pattern shows the eye scans information left-to-right, down diagonally and then left-to-right again. Again, the most important pieces of information should be placed on the left.

Tips for Your Email Layout

Be Precise and to The Point

Readers scan emails quickly to find information that is relevant or useful to them. Emails with long wordy paragraphs and big blocks of text can cause readers to become distracted, causing them to skip over the text and not digest the information being provided. This can have an impact on the number of clicks generated from your email campaign.

It’s natural to want to get as much information to your readers as possible, but less draws the eye. Use bold titles, bullet points and call-to-actions that stand out for those scanning your emails. Give them just enough information to encourage them to click through to your website.

Guide Your Readers

Using an inverted pyramid or funnel shape to lay out certain items can subliminally guide the reader’s eyes to follow the information downward. This can be used to guide them to a specific call to action, which can encourage click throughs.

Place Important Information Above The Fold

Most marketers are aware of ‘the fold’ which was originally used to describe the area of the newspaper on display when folded. With email, it’s the section visible when a recipient first opens an email. The information above the fold should catch the reader’s attention, generate interest and encourage them to scroll down and read the rest of the content.

Draw Attention Through Images

In the world of photography, it’s well known that when looking at a picture of a person we can’t help but follow the direction that person is looking in. For example, by using an image of a someone who’s looking directly at an image of a product, a piece of text or call to action causes your reader to also look in that direction. This is a clever way of drawing your reader’s attention to the information you want to get across.

Use Numerals Instead of Text

There’s evidence that suggests that one of the best ways to grab the eye of a reader is to use numerals, along with bullet points and short paragraphs. The shape of digits varies quite heavily from alphabetic letters, so they catch the eye of the reader. Numbers are also associated with facts and statistics which some readers love!

Use Bold Call to Actions

Readers are drawn to bold call-to-actions as they are purposely placed to be eye catching. The use of contrasting colours and short striking words can grab the reader’s attention over all other text and images within an email to instruct them to follow the required action.


Gain customer reviews with email

Customer reviews are a great means of boosting on-site conversion rates.

I for one always read reviews for products I wish to purchase, and they have a major role in the decision making process. Getting customers to post reviews and share their opinion is often a challenge for many, however one main technique to collect the bulk of reviews is through post-purchase email. Here is my guide for maximising your review collection rates:

1. Incentivise

A review email which uses some form of incentive for leaving a review will always dramatically outperform ones that don’t. If discounts don’t suit your brand, then prize draws offer an alternative means of delivering that reason for leaving the review. Don’t forget you are asking your customers for their time, so an incentive will help.

2. Keep it simple

Your review email should only have one objective – to get a review. Do not try and achieve multiple things with this email, there are many other opportunities for this. Also, this means removing all clutter and distraction from your email, and having big, bright call to action buttons for taking customers to your review page.

3. Remind customers

As with all key campaigns a reminder will add a significant boost. Even if you don’t have a tight enough integration with your reviews provider to know if a review has been left, a good halfway step is simply only remind those that did not click on the first email.

4. Automate

Trying to manage the collection of reviews manually is not going to be manageable in the long term. Ensure you set-up a feed of orders, and the items they have purchased to your ESP so you can trigger the review request for the appropriate amount of time after their order has been dispatched.

5. Make it easy

Making it easy for your customers to provide you with a review is essential. Don’t confuse the customer and over complicate the journey by making it a long winded and complicated process. Instead, include a obvious link directly to the review page, or perhaps embed the review into the email itself.


How to engage with un-openers

One of the challenges for email marketers is working out how to reactivate all of those customers who don’t open your emails.

For many, it may be the case that over half of your database hasn’t opened any emails from you in the last 6 months. So how do you go about re-engaging with these non-openers? Here are some useful pointers…

Stop sending

One simple tactic is to stop sending for a while to these customers. Put a brake on the emails for 6 weeks, and then when one does pop into the inbox the novelty and fresh factor of receiving your emails increases the chance of them opening it.

Change the from name

Freshness can also be achieved by tweaking the from name. Ideally use a first name within the from name. After all people look to see who the email is from first, then what the email is about, and coming from someone new hints at the content being different to before.

Do something special

We could translate this into a big offer! For many, an exclusive offer will generate interest, for other brands where discounting isn’t appropriate, you will have to be more creative. But whatever it is you decide to do, it needs to look completely different to all other emails you send.


What do you know about the customer? Maybe you know where they booked a holiday with you last or what they recently purchased or browsed on your site. Using this information in the subject line cuts through the rest of the generic promo emails in their inbox and is the best way of getting that all important open.

Try outside of email

Facebook and Google both provide means for targeting ads by email address. So if they don’t respond by email maybe try finding them elsewhere? It’s not a cheap option, and it won’t provide a huge return but where you have a big ticket value sale the numbers make sense.

To find out how we can help you with your email marketing strategy and performance, get in touch with one of our email experts today.


How to create the perfect welcome email?

Most businesses know they need to have a welcome email; it’s one of the most engaging emails you will send with open rates in excess of 50% and unique click through rates 105% higher than any other form of email.

But with that said I still see some very poor attempts at this first point of contact with the customer. Below are some hints and tips on how to create the perfect welcome email:


Ensure your newsletter sign-up form is easy to find and fill in. You should also clearly detail the incentives and benefits of signing up. 


It’s important that your welcome email is sent immediately after your customer has signed up, strike while the person’s interest is at its highest. If you leave it to late, people will presume something has gone wrong and this might put doubt in their mind with regards to your brand.

Subject line

Even with engagement so high with a welcome email it is important to get the subject line right, personalise with the customer’s name and remember to give customers a reason to open, include the incentive where possible.


Here are 3 recommendations for the perfect welcome email content;

  1. Remind the customer how they signed up – make it clear how and why you got there email address.
  2. Offer an incentive – while you’ve got the customers attention offer a discount for a repeat or first time purchase.
  3. Gather more info – include a link to gather more specific information from the customer leading on to better segmentation and targeting in later communication.


Instead of cramming all the above into one email, a series of welcome emails can work well.

  1. First email – immediately after sign up thanking and welcoming the customer
  2. Second email – 2-3 days after sign up offering an incentive
  3. Third email – 5-7 days after sign up asking for more information

There can also be room for some cleansing at this early stage, sending an email to non openers of the first email with the incentive and the opportunity to unsubscribe would be good practice. It’s better to remove people who no longer wish to be on the database now, rather than later.


Its easy once the welcome programme is set up to just forget about it and leave it, but there’s always room for improvement. Set up a testing plan to constantly push for higher engagement rates. Test the subject line test and tweak the call to action, to make the most of this first point of contact with your customer.

As one of the email marketing consultants here at GraphicMail I would be happy to review your current welcome programmes. If you would like to talk about welcome emails further, please to get in touch.


6 Email Design Feedback Tips & Tools

Many organisations dread undertaking design work, because it is difficult to manage and can quickly eat up a lot of time and resource without much to show for it.

What Makes a Good Design?

And here lies the problem; design is so subjective! A design will be loved by one and loathed by another. Just take a look at the feedback Apple has had for various designs. Someone obviously love it, or it wouldn’t have been released, but there are plenty of people that loath it.

Here are a few tips and tools to help get that email design signed off and out the door:

1) Keep the Design Committee Small:

Convincing a small group of people to agree on a design is difficult enough, so do yourself a favour and don’t invite too many colleagues to join in. Also, avoid letting people join in too late in the process, as this will undoubtedly result in otherwise avoidable work.

2) Identify the Design Decision Maker:

Ultimately it is important for one person to have the final say on what looks good, as design by committee will result in a rather ugly compromise that nobody is completely happy with. This decision maker will normally be the Brand or Marketing manager.

3) Give your Designer Clear Instructions:

Designers are very talented, but it is the job of the Marketing Manager to harness this talent and focus it, so that the design fulfils the original requirements. Give a detailed brief and wireframe of what you want the email to look like. You may also want to give some examples of the sort of design work you would like done.

4) Email Designers Are Not (Always) Email Builders:

I am very lucky, as the GraphicMail designers are also capable of building emails. However in a lot of organisations email design work and email building are carried out by two different people, or the email build is outsourced to us. If email design work and email building is carried out by separate people, make sure the designer understands the constraints in what is possible in HTML email.

5) The Wrong Feedback Tool – Email:

Too often feedback on a design is given via a huge chain of confusing emails. The trouble with this feedback method is that you are not sure if all points have been dealt with.

6) Visual Feedback:

  • Give feedback as a group on a specific email design.
  • Draw visual annotations on the email itself, removing ambiguity in your feedback.
  • Easily identify who left each bit of feedback.
  • Archive comments for auditing purposes.