9 Ways to Get Subscribers to Scroll

While there’s a trend toward shorter emails—even very short emails—don’t be fooled into thinking that subscribers won’t scroll. They will. Consistently delivering great email content is one way to get your subscribers to scroll, but there are also some design tactics you can use to encourage scrolling:

9 Ways to Get Subscribers to Scroll1. Ask them to scroll. J. Jill has used this tactic on many occasions, most often placing this request to the right of their logo so it appears above the fold. Beyond asking subscribers to scroll, J. Jill gives them a compelling reason—“to see today’s great offer”—in this Mar. 22 email.

2. Train them to scroll. Consistently placing valuable content near the bottom of your emails will train subscribers to scroll over time. General Mills’ Live Better America newsletter uses this tactic by always leading with recipes and other content but always punctuating the end of their content with a banner about coupons. They often call out the coupons in their subject lines to nudge new subscribers into scrolling and teaching them that’s where they position their deals.

3. Use a numbered list. People love countdowns, top 10 lists and other kinds of ordered lists. They’re effective because people naturally want to discover what’s next in the list, so once you get them started they tend to finish out the list, especially if it’s short. Make it clear that your email contains a list by mentioning it in the subject line or at least in the headline of your email. You can do a progressive list like in this Crate & Barrel email or a countdown like the one used by Uncommon Goods to promote their top 25 Mother’s Day gifts in a May 2 email.

4. Use a calendar. A twist on a numbered list, calendars—like the one used in a May 31 Ann Taylor email to promote releases and niche holidays in June—can provide a framework for touting products in a seasonally relevant way.

5. Direct them with arrows and lines. Your eye naturally looks where arrows are pointing and naturally follows lines. For instance, in a Mar. 19 email, Gap put their promotional language inside a big arrowhead that drew your eyes down through the creative to the call-to-action at the bottom. And this horizontal-scrolling JCPenney email uses a lot of right-sloping lines to visually cue readers to scroll to the right.

6. Use long images. People like to see the whole of something, so if only a portion of an image appears in the preview pane they are likely to scroll to see the entirety of it. Some of my favorite examples of this tactic in action include this Beach Park email, this Norm Thompson email and this Brooks Brother email.

7. Use downward motion. Animated gifs can provide movement that draws your readers’ eyes down through an email. This is a rarely used tactic but can work well.

8. Use a model’s gaze or hand positioning. People are naturally curious what other people are looking or pointing at. Victoria’s Secret used this tactic in a Mar. 26 email, making effective use of the preview pane.

9. Use S-curves. Positioning a series of text blocks and images on alternating sides of an email has proven to draw the eye down through the series. This tactic is so rich with variants that I’ve written a column dedicated just to it: Check Out the Curves on These Emails!

If you’ve read this far, I’ll assume it’s because of my consistently great content rather than my use of a numbered list, although I’m sure the latter didn’t hurt.

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