Email Newsletter Sidebars – Right or Left?

The dramatic difference between having right and left sidebars in your email newsletters

Have you ever wondered which side of your email newsletter should hold your featured product or call to action? We all know that people read from left to right, but does that really mean your sidebar should be on the left? Or does it mean that it should be on the right?

Email newsletters with sidebars on the left

If you have a sidebar in your email newsletter—and I’m guessing you do—it is best practice to use the top quadrant of that sidebar to promote a featured product or sponsor. Since people read from left to right, this puts your “ad” as the first thing that they will see when they open your email newsletter.

The good news is that this method can increase click-throughs on your promotion. The bad news is that this can signify to someone opening the email that this is a marketing promotion, rather then an editorial email. Since you already have promotional emails, it might be better to save the “oh this is a promotion” reaction for those.

By having it on the left, you’re also distracting from the content of the email newsletter. By having a promotion before the content (because it really IS before the content), you’re quietly signifying that this content may be about the item that you seem to hold in such high regard.

In other words, having a left sidebar can increase click-throughs to the page, but can also scare people away and misinterpret what’s actually in the context of the email.

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Email newsletters with sidebars on the right

By having your featured product or sponsor on the right-hand side of your email newsletter, it doesn’t send the immediate message that “this is a sponsored message” and therefore is more likely to get read, rather than clicked. You can see that as a good thing or a bad thing.

Remember that email newsletters are meant to be read, and clicked through. If you’re constantly sending the message that you’re selling something, the long-term effect will be a lower open rate as people start to see your email newsletters as promotions rather than good old fashioned advertorials.

If you’ve done any testing on this, please do share your results in the comments!

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