Embracing the fold

Hearing the term “the fold” in terms of email marketing forces my eyes into the back of my head where they refuse to rollback. I may actually hate the term “the fold”.

What is the fold? It’s a term which originally came from print design, specifically newspaper printing. The biggest headlines and most important stories need to be above-the-fold to ensure they’re seen and attract readers.

What’s the fold when it comes to email?

It’s that top part of the email, before it gets cut off in a preview pane or device window. But the trouble with email is, where exactly is this fold? With so many devices to support, the fold’s basically nonsense. Basically.

There are companies and brands out there who are actively embracing the scroll in their email designs. Designing emails that are designed to be scrolled once opened. So expect some long emails coming up, and embrace the scroll.


Embrace the fold - Howies

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Howies generally have emails with big bold graphics. Sometimes all image emails. Which is a whole other topic. But what they do well in this rather long and scroll-tastic email is craft a story. A story that draws you in with that fab top graphic and then as you scroll, the story of the top headline unfolds. Helpful creative nudges like downward arrows help to push the user along to keep scrolling.


Embrace the fold - Moo

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This email from Moo is a big tease. Upon opening it you’re greeted with the phrase “You know you want to…” followed by a paint can, and if you’re lucky, a basketball. WTF. Intrigue gets you to keep scrolling. To follow the email down and find what’s at the bottom of this. Very cleverly, at the bottom you’re left with an even more intriguing call-to-action button. Well played Moo!


Embrace the fold - B&Q

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This email from B&Q is anything but your average email marketing piece from a major retailer. Where’s the header banner? The opening paragraph? The top CTA? The main headline of “Let’s Decorate” just barely shows up in my preview pane. And yet I scrolled. The CSS3 animated product shots got me interested. Ooo, this is a bit different, things are moving. Let’s see where this goes. Clearly my train of thought is a bit simple. Maybe I’m not alone. Big, bold product shots. A literal centrally located headline. Sure is different.


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Long form writing is making a comeback on email. With every issue of Lenny you’re faced with a full piece of writing. Sometimes it’s an interview. Other times it’ll be a series of articles, interspersed with imagery. Just like a blog post would be. Except it’s in an email. An email featuring an interesting story that doesn’t care about the fold. Of course the goal of this type of email vs. your traditional retail email is different – but if there was real care about the fold, the email would be wrapped up in a paragraph with a CTA button going to a blog with the full article.

So, forget about the fold?

One thing that almost all of these emails have in common is that their leading headline, main pull, whatever you want to call it is one of the first things you see after opening the email. While I don’t believe in the fold, I still believe you do need to have your most compelling content at the top of the email. Just don’t worry how far down it drifts. And don’t try to cram everything into the top of the email. It’ll look like an upside down pear.

If you’re going to embrace the scroll, embrace it. Tell a story with it. Use something dynamic to make the user forget about scrolling. Put yourself where the customer is and ask yourself, what would keep me scrolling?

2 thoughts on “Embracing the fold”

    1. Very striking email there, Paul! Would be interesting to test something like this – placing a “scroll” prompt vs. not. See if it’s actually needed.

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