How To Design for Different Types of Email Audiences

Marketers usually send only one type of message to a strictly targeted list of recipients. But in reality, the email is seen by ten different types of audiences who read the message in ten different ways. Hence, it is important to create a message design that satisfies the needs of the majority type of audience as possible, instead of creating a different message for each type of audience.

Things get even more complicated when the audience keeps shifting. The same recipient may read the message with a different perspective from edition to edition, depending on the time or mood constraints. This problem can be solved by understanding the major email audience. Then the design tactics can be designed and the potential of the email being read by everyone can be maximized. There are eight types of audiences: Identifiers, skimmers, readers, HTML readers, text reader, mobile, desk, and searchers.
Identifiers have only one goal. They check from the address and subject line to decide the other emails which have overcrowded their inboxes. They make recognition and delete the rest of the emails which they do not want to read. For such an audience, great subject lines and clear branding make the greatest impact. A snippet or the top line of the emails is also displayed in the preview pane, so this text is of all importance as it can help to make the difference between reading and deletion. Usually, the business people fall into this category who want to clear the inbox after they arrive at the office before the first meeting or when they are waiting for their flight.
Skimmers go beyond from address and subject line by actually opening the email. But they read the email as fast as possible, noticing only headlines, subheadings and calls to action. Then they decide whether to delete the email or read it in detail. When the email is being designed, these copy points should be worked upon to deliver the central idea and guide the skimmer towards the click through. Skimmers do not even enable images if they have been blocked. Thus, strong text content should be designed to deliver the content without much focus on the images.


Readers are a little ahead of skimmers. They read from address, subject line and open the email and read a few sentences between the headline and call of action to learn more about the email topic. This helps them with the click-through hurdle. These audiences also turn on the images or click on the web version link.

Every email should have both HTML and text versions of the message. Since most of the readers nowadays are using their portable devices for checking emails, here text version will be of more use than the HTML version with images. HTML design dose takes more time, but few more minutes must be devoted to making the text version attractive. Include URLs with text as short and as clear as possible. Easily readable text messages increase the number of clicks by a great percentage.

Email design is encountering new challenges because of the growth of mobile readers. Some PDAs show HTML version correctly, while the others show lines and lines of irritating HTML code. Again, matching the right format with the right reader is important here, but a hundred percent is impractical. If an interesting message isn’t being displayed properly, mobile readers will save the message to later read it on their laptop or desktop.
Desk readers are the biggest audience for which the majority of marketers design emails. This audience is also the one most likely to act on the email. Design strategy used to optimize emails for other audiences will also prove effective for this particular group too. Desk readers can also be skimmers or readers. Therefore, here too, it is important to concentrate on the top line of the email, apart from the subject line.

Searcher audiences start as members of one of the other types of audiences. When they see something which they like but cannot deal with it at that time they save it for later. When they have the time they want to find the message in a flash. So if the message does not stand out, it will be forgotten about. Again here it is important to design the subject line, top line of email and sender address properly.

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