Picture this scene.
A reader of your blog and a loyal subscriber gets a new mobile device.
No problem: You’ve taken great care to make your site mobile friendly.
You’ve even taken the right steps to convert more mobile readers to your email list.
So you feel pretty confident that all your bases are covered.
Until your subscriber gets her first email from your latest marketing campaign. It’s all squished up on the screen, it’s impossible to click on any of the links, and the message overall is terribly hard to read.
Your loyal reader really wants to get the benefit of your great content. So she spends some time fumbling around trying to make sense of it.
But eventually frustration wins. She gives up and hit the red “delete” key.
Think this doesn’t happen? It sure does. I’ve seen it, more than once.
Mobile email marketing design is smoking hot. If you can manage to make sure your mobile readers are satisfied with those subscriber-based emails, then you have covered what may be the largest of your readership. And here are some tips to help you out.
1. Include a plain text version of every message
Including a plain text copy of every HTML message you send will help eliminate potential issues for those subscribers with mobile readers that do not support HTML.
Any good email marketing service lets you include a plain text version, make sure you’re using it.
2. Keep links uncrowded
If your email message has links that you want your readers to click on, such as navigation back to your main site (recommended), then make sure those links stand out on their own.
In other words, keep them uncrowded so it’s easy to click them within a very small space.
Imagine your loyal reader flicking around on a tiny screen to get to that link — and how frustrated you get when the links are so close together that you can’t land on the one you want. If you want clicks, make it easy.
3. Pull the reader in with your subject line
Hop on over and read Brian’s article on the three key elements of irresistible email subject lines.
Now … actually use those three key elements for your email marketing messages.
Like any headline, an email subject line has to capture attention quickly and drive the reader to click through.
By the way, the current best practice for subject lines for mobile devices is to keep it within 5 words. That’s right, you have about 5 words to grab the attention of your reader. Why? Because after about 5-7 words, the subject line gets truncated and thus it’s a lost opportunity.
4. Use the right tags for your images
If your email marketing message includes images, make sure you include an alternative (alt) tag to describe what the image is. (You should be doing this for any HTML content you create — mobile readers aren’t the only users who may not be able to see your images.)
Don’t stuff this tag full of keywords, it doesn’t work. Use it for what it was meant for — to briefly describe what the image is, in a way that lets your reader make sense of it if the image isn’t visible.
Many devices can display all your images correctly, but not all of them will, so it’s just smart to use alternative text to make sure every reader gets the message that image was supposed to convey.
5. Is your call to action clear?
People using mobile devices spend a little less time taking in the content due to the smaller screen sizes and the fact that they are usually on the go, so make sure your email marketing has a clear call to action.
Put it either near the beginning or somewhere where it will stand out. Don’t make it hard to find … after all, it’s the key to getting the response you want.
You might be wondering how to know what your email message will look like on all these devices. Just because it looks great on an iPhone doesn’t mean it won’t be mangled on a Blackberry. There are some great simulators out there that let you see how things will appear on the various devices. A Google search for “mobile device simulator” will give you lots of options.
Whatever email marketing service you use, spend some time in settings area and explore the various options they have for delivery. Now that you have some tips to keep in mind, you never know what options they have that you just didn’t see before.
How about you — what experiences have you had with mobile devices and email marketing?
Check out the rest of the Email Marketing 101 series.
About the Author: Shane uses his Tablet Computer Geeks blog to deliver the latest and best iPad information, including accessory reviews, app reviews, and industry updates. Follow him on Twitter at tc_geeks.