Email Marketing Debate: To View VS Not To ‘View in Browser’

Written by: Chris Donald

Published on: 01-10-2017

Chris is Managing Partner at InboxArmy and has more than 25 years of experience in email marketing

Today, subscribers spend just 3-4 seconds deciding whether to open and peruse your emails. Pre-header text—the “appetizer before the main course” portion of your email design—carries more weight as email rendering continues to evolve with technology. How should you utilize this ever-more valuable real estate? Are you still using a “View in Browser email” link? Is it even necessary?

Studies suggest NO!

According to data pulled by our friends at Adestra, there’s been a steep decline in the click-through rates for a “View in Browser” link.

Email Marketing

Perhaps now is the time to phase out the “View in Browser” link altogether and focus on using the real estate for customized pre-header text. Customizing pre-header text can boost open rates, help grab the attention of your subscribers, and give a sneak peek into the email’s content to drive action.

A solid pre-header needs to include:

  • A strong call-to-action (CTA)
  • Short, concise content teases to drive interest

How does a strong call to action compare to using the preheader real estate for a “View in Browser” link? Let’s look at that same Adestra data:

Email Marketing

Source: Adestra

Check Your Own Data First

All this being said, if you’re using a “View in Browser” link in your pre-header, take a look at your data first before killing it off. You could find it’s still necessary (particularly in the B2B space). Or, you could find your data matches up with Sparkroom’s.

Sparkroom conducted a survey of their own data for all of their email agency clients’ campaign metrics, specifically looking for clicks on a “View in Browser email” link. They found that only 0.2% of opens involved a browser, while the rest were rendered via webmail, a desktop app, or mobile:

Email Marketing

Mobile opens are likely the main culprit contributing to these numbers as well. As mobile rendering has improved, and mobile opens have increased to well over 50% of total opens (as indicated by this Litmus study and many others), the honest truth of rendering on mobile is this: If it doesn’t look good in the email client on mobile, it won’t look good in a mobile browser as well.

Is It Time for “View in Browser Email”?

The “View in Browser” link is a classic and seems like it should still be considered an email marketing best practice. The reality? It just may not be necessary anymore. Take a look at your data, test usage against solid pre-headers, and remove the “View in Browser email” if you find it unwanted. Your subscribers will tell you the full story.

About Author

Chris sent his first email campaign in 1995. He’s worked directly with Fortune 500 companies, retail giants, nonprofits, SMBs and government agencies in all facets of their email marketing and marketing automation programs. He’s also a BIG baseball fan, loves a good steak, and is mildly obsessed with zombie movies. For more information follow him on linkedin

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