With more cell phones than phone users in the U.S., mobile devices have already reached one milestone, and they’re poised to sprint past another that directly affects how you do business. More than half of all email messages are now read on mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets. You’re no longer tied to a bulky desktop computer when you want to catch up on correspondence, yet the email messages you’re sending may have been composed on and optimized for a full-sized computer screen. Market analysts expect the trend toward mobilization to continue, and your marketing company needs to stay mobile too with
Responsive email design, like responsive web design, adapts to fit the format on which the user sees it. Thoughtfully composed responsive design means viewers can use scroll bars, tap buttons, see images and read text clearly whether they open your email on their desktop computers in the office, on a laptop in the airport or on a phone while waiting in line.
It’s easier to understand the importance of responsive email design by looking at what happens when it isn’t there. Have you read a message that didn’t display on your tablet or contained Flash animation that required plug-ins your device didn’t have? If it was from a company that had already earned your goodwill, it’s possible that you saved the email as new and read it later on another device; it’s far more likely that you deleted it unread, though, especially if it came from a company relatively new to you.
Another hallmark of a poorly optimized email message is a clumsy subject line. Too-long subject lines may not display correctly on smaller screens, and too-short ones fail to attract enough attention. Your email marketing company should aim for the sweet spot and reach mobile users with subjects that are compact enough to fit on a smartphone yet detailed enough to convince your prospects to open the message.
Many mobile devices list the sub-header or the first few words of the email message when displaying email. With do-it-yourself email marketing solutions, the default header directs visitors to the website when the email doesn’t appear properly, but that’s a waste of valuable real estate that could be used to generate interest, make a clear offer and heighten readers’ urgency to open the message. Longer email messages also indicate inattention to an increasingly mobile audience. Ideally, the key points of your message will appear within the first few words where it will make an impact on your reader. The average smartphone owner checks the phone more than 150 times a day, so if your message isn’t leaving an impression right away, it gets lost in the flood.
Planning for a Big Shift in Mobile Design
While email is quickly becoming a mobile-first medium, the state of mobile devices is also improving. The technology that drives the latest tablet or smartphone has capabilities that would have been science fiction to previous generations of the devices. Your marketing team no longer has to constrain all email to plain text, and treating every message as though it would appear on a monochrome LCD flip-phone screen fails to capitalize on the tricks modern devices can do. When composing your email, too much caution is as much of a concern as too little.
Instead of forgoing graphics and sending timid email messages, smart marketers are embracing the technology’s current capabilities and looking toward the future. Clean-lined graphics, clear imagery that shows up well at any screen size or resolution, and succinct messages are winning strategies for successful email campaigns. Graphics that look stylish in a tri-fold brochure or billboard may not translate well to the small screen, so consider updating your logo to make the most of your email’s impact.
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