Optimize Your Mobile Email Design
Sending email that both looks good and delivers results can be a daunting task. If you thought that cross browser compatibility was tough (making sure your site looks the same in all browsers like IE, FireFox, Chrome, Safari, etc), well, email is even tougher. Add into the mix the growing popularity of smartphones, and now your brain is really scrambled.
But not to fret, there’s an app for it! Not an iPhone app, but an online service called LitmusApp. With Litmus you can submit a URL of your freshly deployed website, and Litmus will return screenshots of your site in all your target browsers and OS’s. Here are Rio, we use Litmus to test all of our sites before launch time.
The cool thing about Litmus (not to mention they offer limited, but still great, free accounts) is that you can also send in an email test. Simply login, click New Email Test, choose your target email clients and it will give you an email address for you to send your message to. After a few moments, it will display screenshots of your email in all the email programs you selected.
What a lifesaver! In the olden days, I would have to keep a test PC nearby with every modern version of Internet Explorer running so that I could perform my tests. This just was not an effective solution. It leaves out so many variants like Linux, Mac and the MANY versions of previous generation browsers out there. LitmusApp is a must have.
So, back to mobile email design: Litmus can handle 33 different email clients and 15 different spam filters during the time of this writing. Simply amazing. The list includes iPhone, Blackberry and Windows Mobile to boot. Check out some of the tips below and don’t forget to watch the Mobile Email Design Webinar at the bottom for even more information.
Mobile Email Design Best Practices
Plan ahead. Your content will likely be shorter and more direct with a clear call to action. Plan your mobile email strategy early so that you don’t end up spending more time going back to optimize later.
Think about subject lines. Many mobile devices only display a limited number of characters in the subject line, so keep it short or keep your most important words near the beginning of the line.
Get skinny. Use a single column and be sure your email looks good when the user is holding their phone vertically. You only have about 320px of width to play with so keep your email skinny for best results.
No squinting. Apple Developer Connection recommends your text size be about 18-22px in size for easiest readability. Don’t make your text size too small or your users will have to put on their glasses to read your email.
Make it easy. Don’t use tiny buttons that are impossible to tap easily with your finger. Don’t flood your email with long paragraphs of text that are hard to digest. Make engagement easy so that you don’t rub your audience the wrong way.
Let them know. Advertise the mobile version of your website so that your customers know that they can interact with you from their mobile device. Tell them that they can receive offers on their mobile.
Ask your audience. When subscribing or managing subscriptions, allow your users to opt-in to a special mobilized version of your emails and then send them email designed specifically for mobile devices.
Don’t over-optimize. If most of your subscribers use desktop email, then don’t overly optimize for mobile because you’ll be degrading the experience for the majority of users.
Don’t over-analyze. It is better to be “mobile aware” than to spend your nights analyzing and optimizing for every single device. Focus on building a sound universal mobile version, not several individual Blackberry/iPhone/Android versions.
Think about your boss! If you work for a design or development company, and you know your boss uses a Blackberry or Android, make sure that you optimize for his or her device or you might be sorry.
Watch the Mobile Email Design Webinar from LitmusApp to learn more about optimizing your mobile email campaigns. Over 1,000 people attended it this morning, and Chris Studabaker from ExactTarget did a great job with the presentation.