Ways to make your messages more mobile, from testing to perfecting the plaintext before they go out
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.
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 someone on staff view every email on a smartphone before send-off. The insight you'll get into how a growing segment of your audience views your messages will more than pay for it.
Oh, and remember that emails sent to the test group don't count toward your monthly total. It's our way of encouraging you to check every mailing with a few colleagues or friends before you send the real deal.
Since some handheld devices 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 mailing 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.
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. Take a second to add the question to your account-powered signup form. Then, encourage your existing readers to 'manage their preferences' at the bottom of any email, or just link to your signup form 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.
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 hit 'em on the head with a mallet. It's a figurative mallet, so no one actually gets hurt.
Hope these tips help you on your way to mobile marketing expertise -- if you have your own story to share about reaching your handheld subscribers, please don't hesitate to tell us.