Below the Fold: More Important Than You Might Imagine

Wait, it’s 2014 and we’re running an above/below the fold article? Is this a Flashback Friday piece? Did we hop in the Wayback Machine and take a trip back to the web content analysis salad days of 2010?

No, we did not. Instead, we did some readin’, researchin’, and recon.

After a conversation with one of our clients (shout out to the squad at DRUM! Magazine) brought below the fold ad and article performance to our attention, we did some digging to see how much page placement affected reader interaction. The results were pretty surprising.

How surprising? Well, it turns out that, in many cases, ads and articles appearing below the fold actually produce higher click-through rates than those placed above. Now, that’s not to say they create a higher number of click-throughs, but a higher conversion percentage, instead.

But, how could that be? That prime, ABF real estate is occupied by the most attention-grabbing content, right? So why would those items placed lower on the page convert more easily?

Well, the answer is a two-fold. First, in both newsletters and site layouts, much of the top of the page is occupied by branding, menus, banner advertisements, and engagement utilities (like social media buttons). So, the interested reader is more likely to scroll down just a bit to find more substantive content. Those items are at the top of the newsletter or page every single time the reader views it, so repeat visitors are more prone to simply skip over that material and roll down.

That doesn’t mean headlines and branding are devalued. They’re still completely essential for new readers, as well as the majority of your returners. However, it does mean that content appearing farther down the scroll bar should be much more than an afterthought; and that leads us to the second reason BTF content can be so effective.

Remember that those scroll patterns come from repeat and return readers, or more accurately, interested readers. They’ve already shown that they want to know more about whatever you’re promoting by scrolling down, and that level of interest means they’re more likely to engage with relevant content or ads.

They want to know more, so they’re more willing to click, and the content they’re looking at is often below the fold. This Washington Post article offers some additional explanation about how reading patterns affect ad performance specifically, but the information is no less relevant when it comes to newsletter content.

In summary, don’t neglect the bottom half of your newsletter or website. Remember, people want to interact with your business through those avenues, and they’re genuinely interested in everything you have to say.

Make sure your marketing has a full-page approach. It pays off.