After perfecting your latest email mailing for the inbox crowd, iPhones, Androids and other handhelds may be the last thing you want to worry about come send-off. But the fact is that the mobile device crowd, as an email viewing audience, is growing very quickly. While there’s no need to rework your entire email strategy around mobiles, it is time to make sure you include them in your design and testing mix. And a few small adjustments will probably do the trick. Here are a few ideas to get you started…
Include mobile devices in your test email.
It sounds rather obvious, but if you’re wondering how your emails are going to render on mobile devices, include them in your rounds of testing. Have a colleague or someone on staff view every email on a smartphone before send-off, and if no one has a smartphone, consider making the small investment to get one. The insight you’ll get into how a growing segment of your audience views your messages will more than pay for it.
Show the plaintext version some love.
Since most handhelds will display the plaintext version of your email, you’ll want to spend some time with HTML’s less sexy sibling before you consider the campaign officially ready for send-off. What works in HTML doesn’t necessarily translate to text, where the old-school formatting of capital letters, dashes, equal signs and stars must stand in for HTML’s fonts, colors, tables and images. These tips for prettying up your plaintext may help show you the difference a little formatting cleanup can make. After all, it’s the only version some of your readers will ever see, so be sure to give your plaintext some attention.
-> Consider saving your plaintext formatting until right before you send, when your HTML version is final. That way, you’ll only have to edit it once.
Are your readers using handhelds? Find out.
If you’re not sure just how many of your audience members are using mobile devices, there’s a fairly easy way to find out: ask them. Consider adding the question to your signup screen. Then, encourage your existing readers to ‘manage their preferences’ at the bottom of any email, or just link to your signup screen in your next newsletter. If enough of your readers are on smartphones, you might just start offering an On The Go version of your newsletter – a quick summary version designed specifically for handheld users and their tiny screens.
Get to the point, will ya?
This is actually pretty good advice for emails headed for the regular ol’ inbox as well, but remember that you’re not just designing for different email clients – you’re also designing for short attention spans. We all have them, and when it comes to the inbox – or the smartphone – we want you to tell us why we should stop and read your email rather than deleting and moving on. With handhelds, that rule is even more indispensable. Your subject line should reel them in, and your first couple of sentences of body copy should be so compelling that they simply have to read more.