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Greg Hickman

Think Mobility

By Greg Hickman

About Greg

Greg Hickman is a mobile marketing consultant, founder and host at MobileMixed.com, a mobile marketing talk show, resource and community where he's interviewed mobile marketers from brands such as CNN, JetBlue and HipCricket.
 

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4 Tips for Handling the Most Overlooked Mobile Marketing Channel

 
We recently talked about the pace at which mobile technology is advancing and how you, as a business owner, have so many options that it's a bit overwhelming to get started with mobile in your business.

As you learned, having a mobile-friendly website is critical in building your mobile foundation, but that's just the beginning.

Once your website is mobile-friendly, there are a few other things your small business should do to in order create stability before all other future mobile programs.

Now before you get ahead of yourself, I'm not talking about building an app for your small businesses. To be honest, that might possibly be the worst way a small business could spend its money.

In fact, the next thing you should be doing is right under your nose and it's a marketing channel that you're familiar with and most likely already using.

OK, OK. I know the suspense is killing you, but most small businesses (yes, I'm talking about you) rely on email to connect with customers to share offers, news, product info and more.

Come on, did you really not see that one coming?

If you're like me (in which case, that's pretty awesome) one of the first things you do every morning is look at your phone to delete all the emails that are really just getting in your way so that you can get started with what matters.

Well, if your business relies on email as a marketing channel, it better be appealing enough that it doesn't get deleted.

In a recent study by Litmus, 38 percent of email is reported to now be opened from a mobile device. Additionally, ExactTarget reported that 56 percent of U.S. consumers who have made at least one purchase using their smartphones have done so in response to a marketing message delivered via mobile email.

Seeing as how a good percentage of your customers are likely reading your emails via their mobile devices, here are some tips to make sure your email is mobile-friendly:

1. Simple is sexy. Do me a favor and grab your phone and look at your email. Notice how many words you see in the subject line? Does the subject line get cut off in most emails? You see, with a smaller screen you need to convince people to open your email with an enticing subject. On mobile, that's five to seven words, tops.

There are other things that you should keep simple to ensure mobile friendliness:

  • Keep your email to one column. Two-column and three-column layouts just don't work.
  • You need larger font sizes. Nothing below 13px.
  • Make buttons big and tappable. Best practice is buttons should be at least 44px wide by 44px high.
  • Keeping your email between 320 and 550px wide will prevent people from the horrible horizontal scroll.

2. Don't overdo the images. Large image files are no good on mobile. Make sure your images are lightweight. Have you ever opened an email and seen the link for "display full images"?

Well, for those that don't display full images, you'll want appropriate ALT text that will entice users to display all images should that not be a default setting.

3. Cut the fluff. Listen, not all mobile users are on the go, but they consume email on their phone differently than they do on their desktop or laptop. They're on smaller screens, they have a shorter attention spans, they're often using one thumb and frequently using only one eye to read while trying to multi-task (which is not possible, for the record).

So, that means your email campaigns need to:

  • Contain body copy that is as clear as possible, removing all unnecessary content and links. Those can be placed on separate landing pages, post-click.
  • Have a super clear call to action that is direct enough, but not too obnoxious.

4. Beware of webkit email clients. iPhone, Android and other email clients using webkit already try to adjust your font size when smaller than 13px. This may actually break your email layout. So, when testing, make sure you look here first if you're having layout issues.

The Simple Truth
Unfortunately, not all small business email solutions offer mobile-friendly features and mobile email is not solved using just responsive design principles, like media queries.

The guidelines above will make your emails much friendlier for your customers who choose to consume your communications from their mobile devices.

As we discussed, mobile-friendly websites are the first step, because most businesses drive traffic customers to a Web destination.

If you link your customers to a non mobile-optimized experience, the likelihood of them coming back are dramatically lower. You don't want that now, do you?

Next time, we're going to discuss a third channel (the most powerful in my mind) of your mobile strategy that is the workhorse for some of the largest retailers and brands winning with mobile today.

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