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7 email tips for the small screen

Tom Sather
7 email tips for the small screen Tom Sather

Mobile is new territory for many email marketers. More than ever, emails are being opened and read on mobile devices from just about anywhere throughout the day. The most important thing to keep in mind when designing for the small screen is to look at your subscriber list and determine if they're a growing, relevant segment. If subscribers follow the trends outlined in "Email on the Move: The Future of Mobile Messaging," then consider these tips to get them reading:

Can't read what you can't see
Don't forget about placing "alt text." By writing compelling and descriptive text, you can be sure your email message will be understood, even when images are disabled.

Time of day really matters
Many people wake up to checking email on their mobile devices as they prepare for the day. If you find your email is being read more than once, in multiple environments, it may mean that your email made it through the first sweep and has been given a second chance read-through at the office. Testing the timing of your sends can help make the entrance into the early morning inbox sweep.

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Getting the second-take look
Your subject line must be compelling to improve open rates, and don't underestimate the importance of the header either -- its preview can help bolster the chances that your email is opened. 

Understanding mobile devices
iPhones don't offer the function for a subscriber to mark emails as spam. If your mobile readership is high, you may find that your complaint rate is low. Because this avenue for feedback has been removed, make sure to monitor your unsubscribes as a more reliable way to gauge feedback for a high mobile subscriber list. 

Offers and coupons
If you're geo-targeting or offering mobile coupons note the offer in your subject line. Mobile users are more likely to open a campaign if they may come across an opportunity to use your offers while on-the-go. 

Cater to iPhone or BlackBerry?
Evaluate your list and determine which mobile device subscribers favor, then you can optimize specifically for the reader. For example, if your list favors iPhones, you can feel comfortable sending image-heavy email because this device automatically enables images. Conversely, the default for BlackBerrys is image suppression.

Make your website compatible
If a large segment of readers are viewing emails on Apple products, including the iPhone or iPad, they will not be compatible with your Flash-based website. Meaning, this will not only make a reader unable to follow through on your call-to-actions, but it will also frustrate subscribers. So consider your site's compatibility with the user in mind.

Following these tips will help you effectively serve the growing segment of mobile email readers. Also, consider offering subscribers a choice to select a primary mail reader so you can optimize messages accordingly. Finally, remember to regularly check subscriber's usage to evaluate the best course of action, and test, test, test!

Tom Sather is director of professional services for Return Path.

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