Usable Email Campaigns Make Thankful Subscribers

Email campaigns that are easy to read and navigate make your subscribers happier. How does your campaign rate? Are subscribers thankful for your emails?

If you haven’t evaluated your campaign’s usability yet, now is the perfect time to do so, right before the thick of the holiday marketing season sets in. Let’s see how your campaign stacks up!

Subscribers Are Thankful For… Clear Web Forms

How easy is it for subscribers to get on your list? If they can’t navigate your sign up form, you might as well stop reading here, because they won’t be able to get to your emails no matter how user-friendly your messages are.

Make sure your web forms are simple, direct and don’t require too much information. It’s okay to ask for gender or age in addition to email address on your form, but make these fields optional to avoid scaring off new subscribers. Don’t be like Bath & Body Works:

Every field on their form is a required one. Well, except the field for apartment number. But that’s a lot of required fields for an email sign up!

Keep it simple, keep it clear.

Check out these posts for more about usable web forms:
Are Your Signup Forms Usable?
Don’t Let Your Opt-In Form Get Out of Control
3 Ways to Set Expectations at Sign Up

Subscribers Are Thankful For… Snippets

Some email clients – namely Gmail and Outlook – include a short preview of an email’s content in the inbox following the subject line. This short preview is called a snippet and it can make your emails usable before your subscribers even open them.

A surprising number of companies don’t use snippets to their full advantage. Most of the snippets in my inbox look like this:

Not very informative or helpful. But there are one or two that stand out from the pack:

…like DailyCandy, who includes a summary of featured articles you’ll find inside the email. One glance at the snippet tells me if the articles inside will interest me or if I should just archive the email for later.

Make the most of your snippet with these additional articles:
Do You Use Snippets for More Opens?
Improve Your HTML Email for Gmail Subscribers

Subscribers Are Thankful For… Preheaders and Footers

When it comes to writing emails that are easy for your subscribers to use, preheaders and footers contain the vital information.

Your preheader can:

  • Summarize your message content
  • Contain a link to view the message in a browser instead of an email client (useful if the email client doesn’t display your message correctly)
  • Contain navigation links to your website
  • Show subscribers an “Unsubscribe” link to make it easy for them to opt-out if they want to

This preheader in an email from Just Fabulous hits all the right points.

Your footer should:

  • Contain your company’s name and address
  • Use clear wording to direct subscribers to their preference center (for changing what kind of emails they want to get from you, for example) and unsubscribing
  • Not be bumped down with extra white space or characters to “hide” your unsubscribe option. Let people off your list if they don’t want to hear from you any more.

Like Patagonia’s email footer, which contains links to their social networking profiles, blog, customer service and an unsubscribe link:

See more examples of helpful preheaders and footers in these posts:
5 Ways a Preheader Can Increase Response and Deliverability
Do You Make These Mistakes In Your Email Footer?

Subscribers Are Thankful For… Text + HTML

Do all of your email subscribers read your emails on devices that can display HTML messages? Some of them probably do and some of them probably don’t. What’s the best way to make sure your messages display correctly for everyone?

The answer is writing your emails in both plain text and HTML. It’s simple to do. Design your HTML message in the Message Editor, then copy and paste the text into the Plain Text box beneath the editor. When you send your broadcast, your subscribers’ ISPs will decide which version to display.

Sending a plain text version with your HTML emails is especially important for smart phone owners who may read your messages in an email app on their phones. Smart phones are getting smarter, but they’re still not known for displaying HTML emails very well on a tiny screen. Including plain text messages makes your emails accessible to all of your subscribers regardless of the device they’re using to read your email.

Learn more about the user-friendly text and HTML combination in these posts:
Should I Use Text or HTML?
Who Cares About Plain Text?
Are You Sending HTML Without Plain Text Alternatives?

Subscribers Are Thankful For… Working Images

You’ve finalized your email design and it’s gorgeous. You can’t wait for your subscribers to see all your images. There’s only one problem: A number of email programs disable images in HTML emails by default. Depending on how your subscribers have their inboxes set up, they may not see your images at all unless they enable image viewing themselves.

This is how an email from West Elm displays with Gmail’s default image settings:

That’s a lot of white space! But they do one thing right: They use alt tags with their images so that even with images blocked, their navigation links are usable and subscribers can still see their main message and call to action.

For comparison’s sake, here’s the same email with images turned on:

When you’re designing your emails with images, make sure your subscribers can read your main point whether they can see your images or not.

For more on making graphics in your emails usable, read these posts:
Improve Your HTML Emails
Images Disabled? No Problem!

What Are Your Subscribers Thankful For?

What kind of best practices do you follow to make your own emails more usable? Ever had a subscriber tell you that they appreciate your emails?

What do you pay attention to when making your campaign user-friendly?


  1. Roger Bugbee

    11/20/2012 7:19 pm

    This Post is great! I’m going to print it for reference!

    I have forgotten about a snippet and how it can make your emails usable before your subscribers even open them. So true most emails do not
    use this feature for what it could do for sales!

    I am going to have to review my campaigns right away!

    Thanks for the recap.

  2. Randall Magwood

    11/20/2012 10:14 pm

    I put all my emails in text format so that the email can be clear, easy to read, and direct. I get subscribers telling me that my emails are helpful, and they ask me questions for help with their internet business. The main thing I pay attention to when creating my emails is to deliver excellent content – so that they can become more successful; and so that they can remain subscribed on my list.

  3. Amie Nishida

    11/25/2012 9:02 pm

    Aside from those. We are thankful for listening to us subscribers. I’m really thankful for the working images as what is mentioned above.

  4. Greg

    11/26/2012 4:56 pm

    They really like when I give them a shoutout. Like “this awesome comment by Sam inspired this post”…gives them all the more incentive to keep being active on the blog.

  5. Ruth

    11/26/2012 10:34 pm

    We are thankful for all the feedback our followers give whether it is good or not. We’re always welcome to receive any comments from our consumers and it is a great way to improve our products and services.

  6. Sid

    4/4/2013 12:02 am

    Delighted to see a great post from the aweber blog itself. I’m a newbie in email marketing and just started using Aweber. I will surely implement thee tips and I’ve already bookmarked this post. Thanks Aweber.

  7. Vir Machin

    7/27/2013 5:10 am

    That was a nice post and really helped me. Your service was here for years and i think you help a lot of people for content marketing.