iProspect South Africa Inspires with Consistent Branding & Images-Off Optimization

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A few weeks ago, we began welcoming our customers & followers to send us their emails to be featured in our inspiration series. iProspect South Africa was the first to send us a few of their emails and — I have to admit — we were pretty impressed!

Consistent branding

iProspect South Africa sent over a couple of their most recent newsletters for us to check out. The first thing that I was immediately attracted to when looking at them was the consistent branding between the newsletters. iProspect uses a set template for their newsletters which helps to build trust and recognition with their subscribers.

iProspect Newsletters

By using the same template for their monthly newsletters, their subscribers will automatically recognize iProspect’s email in their inbox and know it is coming from a trusted source. In fact, here at Litmus we use the same template for our monthly product updates emails:

Litmus product updates emails

Attention-Grabbing Sidebar

I am a big fan of the sidebar in iProspect South Africa’s newsletters — I think it’s unique and it really caught my eye.

iProspect Sidebar

At first glance, the lime green color of the sidebar immediately caught my attention, followed by its unique, curved shape and its infographic-like design. In addition, the large numbers in the sidebar caught my attention and — lo and behold — I read the excerpts of text that coincided with them!

While I don’t know the results of iProspect’s newsletters, I’m assuming that this sidebar is “prime real estate” for important links due to the emphasis and attention put on them. If this is the case, iProspect may want to consider using this format on other channels of communications, such as the product pages on their website.

Images-Off Optimization

Another great attribute of iProspect’s newsletters is that they use live text, rather than text on images, so their newsletters are completely readable regardless of whether images are disabled or not. Check out the email with images disabled in Gmail (Explorer):

Images off - Gmail (Explorer)

While the email (obviously) isn’t as visually appealing with images disabled, it still is completely readable due to the fact that iProspect uses live text and ALT text on their images. However, at some points, the ALT text is a little repetitive — especially in the 3 columns, where the ALT text is the same as the heading.

Repetitive ALT Text

While iProspect should definitely get an “A for effort” for their use of ALT text, it could have been used more efficiently. For example, in the screenshot above, iProspect should have used the ALT text to describe the image that was being blocked, rather than just repeat the heading of the article.

In addition, some of the ALT text in the article — specifically in the sidebar — is extremely long. As Justine describes in her post, “The Ultimate Guide to Styled ALT Text,” in many email clients, ALT text will disappear once the length of the text exceeds the width and/or height of the image container. As a result, shorter descriptions are the best alternative so you can avoid having your ALT text removed altogether.

Some Suggestions for Improvement

While I love iProspect’s consistent branding across their newsletters, their attention-grabbing sidebar and their images-off optimization, there are a few aspects of their newsletters that could use some work.

Content Hierarchy 

All of the main CTAs in the newsletters, besides those in the sidebar, are the same — orange buttons with the text “Read More.” As a result, there is no set content hierarchy in terms of which is the most important CTA. While it can be assumed that the article at the top has the most prominence, the CTA button still has the same text & is the same size as the CTAs in the rest of the email.

Content Hierarchy

In order to combat this issue, iProspect could use varied text on their CTAs to make sure the most important links stand out from the others via either making the button a different color or making it larger than other buttons. iProspect should also try A/B testing different buttons in addition to the text on their buttons to see what has the best results for them!

Another tactic to improve clicks on the CTAs would be to use bulletproof buttons. As Alex Ball states in his post, “Creating Bulletproof Email Buttons,” “The concept behind bulletproof buttons in emails is to provide the user with a compelling, attractive and enticing call to action without the use of images.” This is done by coloring the cell where the button is placed and using text instead of an image to write out the call to action; regardless of whether images are on or off, the call to action still stands out. Check out this great example of a bulletproof button from Salesforce:

Dreamforce Bulletproof Button

Design for ALL Inboxes

In a recent post, I talked about the importance of designing your emails for EVERY inbox since your audience is (most likely) composed of users who view emails on desktops, tablets, and/or mobile devices. Due to the fact that iProspect’s newsletters have 3 columns and use text as small as 11px, their newsletters are not very “mobile friendly.” Check out September’s newsletter on the iPhone 4S:

iPhone 4S - iProspect

As you can see, on the small screen of an iPhone, the text of the email appears very small, which would force readers to have to zoom in order to read the newsletter. In addition, iOS auto-adjusts text under 13px, often breaking navigation bars and other tiny text. This side effect can be seen in the navigation bar at the bottom of iProspect’s newsletter:

iPhone Navigation Bar

The folks over at Campaign Monitor wrote up a post on how to fix this using a little bit of CSS:

Code fix for iPad & iPhone auto-adjust

Or , you can simply use font sizes that are larger than 13px — we suggest striving for a body copy minimum of 14px and headlines of 22px so that it is still legible on a mobile device.

In addition, the three-column layout of the newsletter makes it difficult to interact with on a mobile device. To solve this problem, iProspect could use a one column layout and stack the columns on top of each other so that the newsletter is easy to interact with in all environments. Another alternative is to use a media query to auto-adjust the layout & text size depending on the screen size of the device it is being read on; iProspect could use their current template for larger screen sizes and create a one column layout with larger text for viewing on smaller screens.

What do you think?

What do you think of this email? What do you like about it? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

SUBMIT YOUR EMAILS TO BE FEATURED!

Do you have an email that you’d like us to feature in our inspiration series? Send it to us at inspiration@litmus.com!

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