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Email needs to be pretty. There’s no doubt about it. Content presented in an ugly package just isn’t going to give you results you intended. It is like a beautiful plate of Nantucket bay scallops, adorned with delicate peppery microgreens, flecks of tangy lemon zets, and glistening jewels of roe – put into a Blendtec will it blend. It just isn’t as appetizing as this particular dish.
But in addition to making it pretty and graphical, you need to make is searchable. Gmail can’t read jpgs. I can’t click on a jpg on my mobile phone and call you. Sometime we just need text. We need to be able to search our emails. We need to be able to contact you with a single click. Don’t make take five steps to call you when I should only take one. Don’t make me scroll through 2,156 email just to find yours. By the time I get to yours, my impulse to buy or investigate your product has disappeared. I have a limited amount of cognitive energy. Wasting it does no good. It makes me less likely to click “Buy!”
Another case in which you might need searchable text came to completely by surprise. During my tenure as a professor, I had a visually impaired student in my statistics course. I had many things in person to convey abstract ideas and charts to her in person. I had a bag of skittles to create data distributions on a table, wikkistix so that I could create shapes for her to feel, and aluminum foils so that I could trace the shape of graphs for her to feel.
However, translating graphical images on our statistics programs into something she could read was something I was never able to do. There were currently no tools on the affordable market that could do this for her.
It really hit me by surprise when I received a phone call. The person called to asked me what was on my website. Her first comment was “your website is too graphical. I can’t understand what these buttons are.” It dawned on me that she was also visually impaired, and the program she was using to read my website was not able to decipher some icons. I’ve since changed the names of all the icon buttons on my site into the name of the link.
When evaluating your email program, these are two more items to add to your checklist? Is your email text searchable, and is it readable?