Why is it that companies with mobile sites and apps don’t optimize their email messages for mobile devices? As studies like this one show, reading email is one of the top and most frequent uses of mobile phones. Studies like this one report an average of 16 percent of email opens are on mobile devices, but I have clients with mobile email open rates up to 40 percent.
You can get a read of your audience by working with a rendering company that inserts code into an outgoing message. They can also show how email looks in the top mobile operating systems (OS). Even if the slice is small, it’s growing, and the time to optimize your message for mobile is now.
Here are a few basic steps to guide you.
- Kill the “mobile version.” Just say no to the “mobile version” that is a sad text message. Not only is it a terrible brand/user experience, but also unnecessary for the majority of smartphone owners. Per Nielsen’s Mobile Insights, in Q4 2011, 76 percent of smartphone owners and 89 percent of recent purchasers bought an iPhone or Android. The only audience served by the “mobile version” is those with older BlackBerries who have very low expectations for HTML rendering on their phones. Android and iPhone users expect something much better than a text email. Come on people, it’s 2012.
- Sweat the small stuff, i.e., the pre-header. That is, the HTML copy at the very top of the message. Do not use this precious real estate for your “add to address book” request. Only a small fraction of your readers will do this, and putting the request at the top won’t make it more likely. Instead, present the most compelling answer to the email reader’s question: WIIFM (what’s in it for me?)? Make the pre-header and the subject line work together to deliver the answer.
- Concentrate on the top left. When images are loaded, Android users will see the content in the top left corner of the email. As with the subject line and pre-header, make sure this content provides a compelling reason to continue reading. No, not a call to action; I’m not going to act until I’m convinced and you don’t have enough real estate to make your case. Yes, you may have to reconsider your logo placement.
- Simplify. Even on a large screen, a clean design and minimal copy look good and don’t overwhelm our overloaded, multi-tasking brains. Although iPhones scale everything nicely, a cluttered email is still uninviting.
- Consult the experts. Talk to your design team about mobile optimization. There are a variety of strategies you can employ to fine-tune the size and scalability of your templates. If your team can’t present a few options that balance your content, budget, and UE for both mobile and desktop readers, find one that can.
Email is an essential part of our lives. Make sure it is an essential part of your mobile presence.