> Discover how to make nice scrollable emails. (part 1)

Discover how to make nice scrollable emails. (part 1)

No, an email doesn’t need to be short! We are used to scroll, not only on websites, but also in emails. So yes, you can make a long inspirational email, as long as you apply the righ email experience techniques.

“Noo, don’t make the email too long!”

I get sometimes the remark from marketers that the emails need to be short. That you can not make an email too long. I don’t agree with that. I do believe people scroll in emails. We are now use to scroll, on websites, apps, but also in emails.

A recent article from Nielsen Norman Group reports that in 2010, 80% of the viewing time was spent above the fold. Today, that number is 57%. This means people do scroll down more than before.

Users have become conditioned to scroll — the prevalence of pages requiring scrolling has ingrained that behavior in us. So it is okay to have a long email, as long as you put the most important content & CTA (linked to your email KPI) above the fold.

There are Email Experience Techniques in order to make people scroll in your emails. We destinguish 3 type of techniques: motivational, scrollable and interaction techniques. In this blopost we will explain the motivational techniques. The other techniques will be explained in another blogpost.

1. Motivational techniques

The condition for people to scroll in your email, is that your email teasers* need to be engaging. You need to motivate the people to discover, to open, to scroll in the email. These teasers are your subject title – so people open the email + your above the fold content –  so people scroll down. 

2. Scrollable techniques

The second technique is about making your email scrollable. This means it needs to be chunked up. If you have 1 big (text) block, that is not scrolling, but reading. So you need chunks of images and short phrases, so people can scan. An email is about inspiring and discovering content. When your interest is triggered, than you click in the email and read on the website.

3. Interaction techniques

Last but not least, there are the interaction techniques. We use these techniques to know more about the reader, asking for feedback, asking for interesting topics. These techniques determine the success of your following email. Once people interacted, they clearly stated their engagement and will keep on engaging in your emails.

* your email teasers:  theses are the first elements your audience come across to: from name, subject title, pre-header and above the fold content. 

Motivational techniques

1. A good engaging subject title & preheader

Together with your From name, your subject title & preheader define whether people will engage with your email. There are other elements likle time, but these are subelements. The main thing is content.

The subject title & preheader need to evoke 2 behaviours.

  1. Scanning – How to get the attention in their inbox?
  2. Clicking – How to get the interest so they open your email?

In order to come up with an engaging subject title & preheader, it is important to  understand first the actual email behaviour. How do we consume emails nowadayas? How much emails do we receive?

  • The number of emails send/receiving is rising. in 2018 it was 121. Now it will be around 135.
  • We check 2 emaill folders: inbox and spam. The most frequent is the inbox.
  • We check our email on average 15 times per day.
  • When we check we scan our email folder really fast – 3 seconds.
  • 88% of all the emails are checked on mobile phones

You get my point that we receive a lot of email and we scan fast our inbox folders as well as the email itself. The average time spend on scanning emails in the inbox is to my gut feeling 3 seconds. 

So you need to be really spot on with your suject title & preheader. It needs to speak to the receiver. There are different techniques and tips for creating good engaging subject titles, depending on the type of email you want to create (commercial, inspirational, informational, newsletters, …). 


I share with you my 4 tips

1. Relevancy

Is the message really relevant to the receiver? Subject titles with a too generic message don’t stand out. Dare to personalize and make different subject titles depending on your audience. Don’t push commercial messages to people who are not ready to buy. Or find out first what their interests are. You can do this implicitly (based upon digital body behaviour) or explicitly (you ask this in an online form).

2. From name

Your from name is your trust factor. “Do I know this brand? Do I know this guy? What is it about?” Use a from name that looks familiar and helps to categorize the receiver trust/non trust. Sendinblue is talking about the four facets of sender name.

3. Short & no-nonses

To my experience short subject titles always win over long subject titles. Avoid cheesy marketing language. But speak the language of the receiver.

MailChimp conducted an email subject line study and found that short, descriptive subject lines engage better than cheesy lures. 

4.  Conversational

Use words that are really active and easy to understand. Use the same language (slang) of your audience. Think about how they talk, the words they use and make it recognisable. See it really as a conversation. What would you say or ask, if you meet the person in real life? The usage of questions is a good one.

For more tips on subject titles, I like the following:  The 9 Best Email Subject Line Styles to Increase Your Open Rates.

2. Teasing above the fold content 

Above the Fold is the portion of an email or web page that is visible without scrolling. This portion will differ across different screen sizes (devices) of course but consequently, email designers and developers give a lot of thought into what goes above the fold.

Quick fact for you! The term “Above the fold” actually originated from the newspaper industry. Newspapers are usually folded in half before they are put on sale. It has, therefore, become a common practice to display a newspaper’s most intriguing stories and graphics above the fold.

To give you an idea, here is a recent email I received from Google which shows a highlighted area of content which sits above the fold. This is a great example as it not only shows off engaging visuals and a short punchy headline, but the interactivity of the design is a great way of engaging the reader. It is also important to note that the “Above the fold content” subsequently encouraged me to want to scroll and scan through the rest of the email.

But what is engaging above the fold content? What elements are needed? Do we need to have always an image on the top? Can it not just be a title? 

I share with you my 4 tips for a good motivational above the fold content. 

1. Complementary with your subject title & preheader

Once you grabbed their attention and get them clicked with your subject title, people want to see what you mean, they are curious. So make really clear above the fold, what you offer.

On reallygoodemails, I found the following email of Postmates, a delivery company (ref. Ubereats) in the US. It is a commercial email to order food for Thanks giving via Postmates. What I like here is the good match between subject title and the above the fold content. It is simple and clear. (I would have put the subject title within the above the fold, and use the one of the above the fold in the suject title)

From name: Postmates
Subject title: Celebrate Thanksgiving With Postmates

My suggestion:

From name: Postmates
Subject title: Forgot the turkey on Thanksgiving?

Above the fold: We bring the turkey to you.

2. Put the desired behaviour in your above the fold

Be clear what you want from you audience. What is the desired behaviour? Buying? Then but the CTA “Shop now” in your above the fold. People need certainty, they hate uncertainty. So be straightforward and make it no-nonse. BUT give a good reason, motivaton, why they should buy, perform the desired behaviour.

On reallygoodemails, I found the following email of Google to sell their product Nest. It is clear what the desired behaviour is: shop now. But they add more motivation, speak to your intrinsik values “make a big difference”. in the parts below the fold they explain what this difference in saving and energy can be. They keep the parts engaging, so you keep scrolling. They even put a ‘fake form’ engaging you to find out more savings within your region.

It all nicely fits together. Even they repeat within the email below, as a closing: Bring more savings home. I like this. Everything in this email is about energy, home, nature. Not the cold commercial emails of saving money.

From name: Nest
Subject title: Save energy (and money) this Earth Day

3. Bold title is good

You do not need to start with an image. Question yourself. What is the type of email? Do you need to tease your audience first? Or can you be straight to the point? 

I’m a customer of Miro, the online collaboration platform or realtime whiteboard. As I’m a fan of their tool, I’m also a fan of their emails. These are clear from in the beginning and they are engaging to help me out with using the tool. I like the way they are informative, but not in a heavy kind of a way. They manage very well, the belance between words and spaces. the words they use in their subject title as well as the title in the above the fold, really triger you to know more – Eassy / Pro / Productive. They not only speak to your motivation but also make it accessible by using the word easy. On top, they also have put the desirted behaviour: use the product.

From name: The Miro Team
Subject title: 5 easy tips to become a Miro PRO user

4. Reason why - WIFM

The behaviour you want to unlock is that people scroll down and eventually click to proceed to the desired behaviour, like buying or using a product. Give them either a prompt or a motivation to discover more, to scroll down.

Let’s take motivation, the What’s In it For Me WIFM.

BJ Fogg identified three core motivators in his behavior model, the underlying drives which motivate us as humans: sensation (physical), anticipation (emotional) and belonging (social). Influencing each of the three drives underlying drives requires different measures.

There is an easy to use behavioral model of BJ Fogg stating: 

Behaviour = Motivation x Ability x Prompt

Motivation — People have to be sufficiently motivated to change their behavior.

Ability — They must have the ability to do the behavior.

Prompt — They have to be triggered, or prompted, to do the behavior.

Sensational motivation

We seek for pleasure and avoid pain. These are the basic sensations. There are different techniques and concepts that can be used to let the users feel either pleasure or pain.

Some of the pleasure techniques:

  • Achievement. We tend to engage in behaviour in which meaningful achievements are recognized. For example: take the above email of Google Nest – the achievement of buying/using Nest is saving energy an d money.
  • Completion. Having closure is a reward in itself. Our need for closure and completion drives us toward action, so find ways to anticipate celebration of completion to engage users in your target behavior.
  • Levels. Using levels to communicate both progress and future goals is a great way to keep the skill level of users in check as their ability grows. For example: take the above email of Miro – becoming a PRO user

Welcome emails are a great example of motivating people to engage more with the brand or company. They are a good example of Achievement. 

On reallygoodemails, I found the following email of ZoesKitchen. The email celebrate your first achievements: you are part of the reward program and you earned your first stripes. Now it invites you to earn even more stripes. Going to the next level.

Anticipatory motivation

According to BJ Fogg, hope is the most ethical and empowering motivator. Motivating through hope talks to our innermost intrinsic motivations: our desire to do or be part of something that matters. Hope is being part of something meaningful or the anticipation that what you are about to engage in leads to something meaningful.

Some of the hope techniques:

  • Storytelling. The narrative qualities of stories help users engage in a different perspective than their own.
  • Curiosity. We crave more when teased with a small bit of interesting information.

Some of the fear techniques:

  • Scarcity is often used as a tool to frame a future gain as something negative. By framing something as being less attainable or accessible, its perceived value rises.
  • Reward. Just as the hope of gaining a future reward can motivate us to act, so can the fear or not obtaining it. It’s a matter of framing and perspective. All rewards and possible achievements can be framed as something we stand to gain or as something we stand to lose.
Social motivation

Social cohesion: we seek social acceptance and avoid social rejection. As humans, we strive to feel accepted – as if we belong. Similarly, we try to avoid feeling rejected.

We are motivated to act, when we can win social acceptance and status just as we are motivated to avoid negative consequences which might lead to social rejection.

Some of the belonging techniques:

  • Reciprocation. We feel obliged to give back when we receive something.
  • Social Proof. When we are in new and unfamiliar situations (socially or not), we assume the actions of others to feel safe.
  • Nostalgia Effect. Reminiscing about the past and the social connections we have had, we tend to favor social connections and downplay economic costs.

5. Prompt to scroll

The behaviour you want to unlock is that people scroll down and eventually click to proceed to the desired behaviour, like buying or using a product. In previous section we worked on motivation. Now we work on the prompt. What makes people scroll down?

Some of the prompting techniques

  • visual cueing
  • signal prompt
  • teasing

On reallygoodemails, I found the following email of Blue Apron. This is an email confirmation of an order. Blue Apron is like Hellofresh. They use a simple technique: visual cueing with the 2 blue arrows. 

Scrollable techniques

Discover in the following blog post techniques to facilitate people into scrolling the email a techniques to interact even more with your audience.

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