Senior interactive designer Stephen Aase explains the key principles to keep in mind when optimising email messages for mobile devices
It is easy to see the natural progression of email becoming more apparent in the mobile realm. With 91 per cent of the US using mobile phones and 97 per cent utilising email, it is imperative the email marketing world keep up with optimising every sent message from these platforms, especially when delivering them to mobile inboxes. When manoeuvering through these hoops it's good to keep a few key principles in mind:
Subject line perfection
Hit your point home from the start. Beating around the bush will only muddy the waters. Most mobile email platforms give you a subject line in a clear-cut way. Know your audience and find out what will make your email one they read rather than discard quickly. It is often the case that it is easier to delete an email on a mobile device than to read it. So keep it strong, simple and engaging. Perfecting this is the start of any good campaign, but within the mobile landscape it is read or delete. So get it right the first time.
Simplicity with fluidity
It is pretty easy to over design for the inbox these days. But I find that the best way to get attention on a mobile device is to keep clear messaging throughout. When designed in a fluid layout an email will be able to scale no matter which device is reading it. Are people viewing the email in “landscape” or “vertical” mode? Either way a fluid layout will work perfectly well.
While simplifying the way your email is laid out is important, it is equally important to understand the principles of design in the medium: specifically, form following function. It is easy to see that keeping your design simple on a small handheld device will help the function of the email. To perform well you must deliver a message clearly and simply, without rendering problems getting in the way.
The offer in two places
When dealing with ecommerce emails you have to truly rely on the fact that finishing a purchase on a mobile device is nearly impossible. Do not worry about the clickthrough, worry if the message is strong enough. Keeping your messaging simple and to the point is often met with your user making the correct decision. The choice is then not to buy, but to save the email for a later time. Consider how your email gives your customer value. This will in turn lead them to their desktop to continue reading about what the offer can provide.
Links without kinks
If you are not gathering any information about what platform or device your emails are being viewed on, you are missing out on some crucial ingredients to a successful email blast. Most platforms cannot read what device your customers are viewing your emails on. If you include a “View Mobile Version” link on your emails you will have direct access to how many of your customers are interacting on a mobile device. Keep track of these stats, as they are important to the ever-changing inbox. Know how to connect the right way with the right audience.
People ARE reading email - big time. Mobile engagement has begun to rank the highest in most all of the tests we have been doing with our clients. As our culture continues to become more and more mobile, the plain and simple truth is that not having an optimised rendering of your emails through mobile is a big mistake. The ways in which we interact with our inboxes is in flux, but people are reading in greater numbers and more often. If anything, this has re-energised the email marketing boom, and will make any company's email campaigns hit harder and stronger.
So which side of the inbox are you on?