5 Tips for Mobile Email
The mobile experience is here and it’s growing leaps and bounds every day. Lots of people check their email on their mobile devices – Blackberries, iPhones, Droids, etc. And some are probably checking their email there more than on their desktop. Which brings up one scary thought… what does your email marketing campaign look like on a mobile device???
If you’ve never thought about this you are probably breaking out in a cold sweat right now. If you have, you might not have considered the next part of this thought, does it convert??? It’s OK, we all worry. But luckily there are some fairly simple things you can do to make sure your email marketing campaign is just as effective on a mobile device as it is on a desktop.
It breaks down to the same core principles that apply to most forms of electronic communication, code and design. We have put together a list of 5 simple techniques to apply to your email marketing campaign to ensure it is effective on mobile devices. Let’s start with what they see in their inbox…
1 – Make sure your subject line and preheader are working together…
A preheader is the text that shows you see in a mobile inbox from an email newsletter. Mainly this is reserved for things like “Click Here for a Printable Version” or “Having Trouble Viewing This? Click Here”. This is also about as much as the recipient will ever read of your email marketing campaign if you don’t do something creative to grab their attention.
This is because oftentimes, marketers will miss an opportunity here to capture the interest of the reader and get them to open the email. Think about it, most mobile devices will show the subject line and the preheader without any reall hook to get the you to open the email…
As they scroll through their inbox this is what they see. If you are creative with your preheader you may be able to cut through the clutter and get them to open the email. Try using this space to grab their attention, think of it as the next part of your subject line, what you would say in the actual subject line if you had the space… The Subject —> The Grab!
There is a great article on this at MediaPost, talking specifically about subject lines and preheaders… Subject Line + Preheader: The Perfect Mobile Pairing
2 – Can they read it?
One of the easiest fixes in mobile email marketing is readability. Devices will all render emails differently. To have the most effective cross platform reach, start with the content, can it be read from any mobile device?
Email marketing services will allow you to create a text only version of your newsletter. Devices that do not support HTML in email will usually automatically revert to this plain text version in the reader (with active links).
I’ve seen it suggested to create a .TXT version of your email campaign and link to that from your HTML email. My problem with this is that the links will not be active, meaning the recipient will need to copy and paste the link into a new browser. This kills the whole idea for me.
Instead try creating a simple HTML version that is designed at a baseline to work in all mobile browsers. Then link to this in the preheader – “View Mobile Version”. When they click this link they will be taken to a mobile version of the email newsletter designed specifically to work in mobile browsers, such as something like this…
As you can see, the text still renders nicely and the links are all still active – driving branding and conversion.
3. With HTML, Design with Mobile in mind…
Now comes the tricky part. How do I design an HTML email that will render correctly in devices that display HTML emails? The main thing to worry about is screen resolution. You are going to be primarily concerned with width, the horizontal display of your email.
Typically the real estate you are working with on a mobile screen is in the neighborhood of 350px X 380px. This varies of course depending on the device and what menus are present at the top and bottom of the viewing area. So, it is best to design them and then view versions in phone simulators.
iPhones will generally size the HTML email to fit in the screen (see sample below). Some devices will show it full size. So if your HTML email is designed at 600px wide, the reader will need to scroll horizontally to view the content. This is not good. Your best bet is to design for the lowest common denominator – at least for the width.
4. Best practices still apply…
Remember that good design is always backed by responsible coding and effective layout. If you are designing for the user and device in mind, you will be in good shape. So, take certain things into consideration like images, or the layout of your information.
Some phones will not load an image automatically (Outlook does this too, so this tip applies to desktops as well). Use ALT text in your images so if an image is not loaded, the viewer will at least see some text in its place that is relevant instead of phonepic55.jpg. If your email is about roasting turkeys and you have an image of a roasted turkey, use the ALT Text = Roasted Turkey.
And when it comes to links, be smart about placement. Layout here is very important. If you want someone to click on a link, don’t bury it with other links or clutter. Set it apart and make it accessible. This is especially important on touch screens. Some of us fat finger types might click on the wrong thing and get frustrated. Frustration leads to departure, which leads to an ineffective email.
5. Mobile is the best place to refine your Call to Action (CTA)…
Think about it – this can be a difficult place to convert. The recipient is on the move and usually very distracted. You have limited visual real estate and multiple compatibility issues to overcome. This is the perfect place to refine your CTAs. What better place than the most difficult one to develop a killer CTA approach?
When you design your HTML email, do some testing on multiple devices. At the very least you can use a device simulator. See what your email will look like on a mobile device. Are your CTAs obvious? Do they draw attention? Is it clear where they will take you? If they are effective here, you can be sure they will be effective on a desktop.
Mobile is here, be ready…
As mobile devices grow in popularity and daily usage, we will see better ways to monitor the effectiveness of these efforts. For now, the stats you have available will tell you a good deal anyway (talk to your provider about their stats or Google Analytics). So, make sure you are tracking what users are on when reading your email newsletters. I guarantee you that mobile will pop up more and more in the coming days and months.
Remember, effective marketing takes planning, testing and flexibility. Be open to different approaches and be aware of what your readers use to access your information. And don’t worry, if you follow these tips you should be in good shape. Good luck!