A song of email best practices and Siri

You’ve optimized your emails to display for desktop, mobile, accessibility — but, have you optimized for voice? In case you haven’t noticed, voice assistants are everywhere in 2019. They aren’t just on your smartphone, they’re integrated into your car, computer, TV and even your refrigerator! It’s estimated that over 90 million Americans today have said “Hey...” to these types of smart voice assistants, meaning the odds are pretty good that Alexa or Siri will read aloud some of your marketing emails. With so many Americans using voice technology, it’s time to consider ways to optimize your email marketing efforts.

Draft with Siri in mind

Today, most marketers know the value of preview text: that small bit of text that appears under the subject line in your inbox meant to further intrigue your reader and drive them to click. Did you know voice assistants like Siri, Alexa, Bixby or Google Home typically read this information aloud? Siri, for example, will read the first 499 characters of any email. For reference, that usually entails sender name, subject line, preview text and the first few lines of your email. What you don’t want is for your preview text to be so short that Bixby keeps reading deep into the meat of your email message. By extending the length of your preview text, you can rest a little easier knowing that when your email is read aloud, it won’t sound as clunky and will do a sufficient job in priming your audience to click and read more.

No need for speed

Face it, voice assistants like Siri speak fast. When crafting those elements to be read aloud, think about how everything will actually be read out. No one wants to hear a long, robotic run-on with no breaks, or for a phrase that comes across incomprehensible because of a fast-talking voice assistant. Incorporate actual voice testing into the email review process by tasking your voice assistant of choice to read through your copy beforehand. Where they stumble, you edit accordingly.

AAAF - Acronyms aren’t always friendly

Acronyms tend to make life easier for readers and writers alike; however, they tend to make voice assistants stumble. The readability issue comes down to voice assistants tending to read acronyms as a singular word rather than individual letters. Couple that with fast reading speeds and it can be really difficult to understand your message. With that in mind, limit the use of acronyms in your spoken email elements. Instead, wait to use acronyms further down in your email copy where your audience can read them and, thankfully, not Siri.

“I’m sorry, I can’t read that for you, Dave”

Do you ever compile all of the most important information into a single email image? Well I’ve got news for you — voice assistants don’t read images, at all. That includes any alt-text as well. Due to image blocking and their being practically invisible to voice assistants, avoid housing critical information in your email images. Instead, use your images to build on and enhance your copy — not substitute for it.   

When in doubt, relocate to the footer

Voice assistants like Siri, Alexa or Google Home typically read the first 499 characters of an email so why, oh why would you want “View in Browser,” “Forward to a Friend” or general CAN Spam info to also be read aloud? It’s a waste of precious word count space. For this reason and for the sake of general aesthetics, we recommend relocating these aspects to the footer. As a listener, this will create a smoother reading experience and as a marketer, this should allow you to frontload the most important information so the user will want to click the email themselves and find out more by the time Siri’s done reading.

At the end of the day, don’t forget to test out how your emails sound aloud in addition to how they display. The goal here is to ensure the email sounds as good as it looks.


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