Today, your customers are multi-screen users, and it's unlikely that people are solely consuming your content and emails on only a smartphone, or only a desktop. Today's marketer needs to be prepared for their customers to read emails on a combination of mobile, desktop and webmail. This means taking a mobile-first or responsive design approach.
To make sure your email program is optimized for mobile follow these tips.
Where Are They Opening?
While an average 50% of emails are opened on mobile, the average by industry greatly differs. It is important to track and understand where your customers are opening your email, both by platform and by device. This is important to understand as things like subject line length, display of pre-headers, and design are all greatly dependent on the device the email is read on. Knowing your subscribers' device usage also can play an important factor in other decisions, like prioritizing the development of a mobile app versus a mobile optimized website.
What Are Their Situational Behaviors?
How do your customers interact on mobile and does that differ from how they interact on desktop of webmail? Track how your customers are interacting with your email. Do they prefer your promotional emails from their phone, or do they click through via a desktop? As subscribers consume emails through multiple devices, knowing how email usage on one device triggers behaviors on another device can help optimize calls to action and other goals to assist with the customer journey.
Timing Is Everything
Track when and where are your customers checking their email and how they are interacting with your different campaigns. By checking how email usage on devices changes based on date and time, you will be able to find the optimal sending time for your promotional emails. According to a recent study by Nielsen, 84% of smartphone and tablet owners say they use their smartphones (29%) and tablets (23%) to use email while watching TV at the same time to share information about a TV program. Another recent study from Google shows that emailing (60%) is the top activity performed on mobile devices while watching television. If you find your subscribers follow this trend, you can time email promotions to coincide with things like certain television shows and product placements.
Consider Your Elevator Pitch
While subject lines are already small on desktop and webmail, with mobile you have considerably shorter real estate to work with. Having a great ending to your subject line doesn't mean anything if it gets cut off. Make your subject lines short and sweet. This situation also applies to your email copy. Your copy should be concise and to the point. Your calls to action should easy to spot, rather than requiring users to search for them. As mentioned above, subject line length and the display of pre-headers is dependent on the device whiere an email is read. A good guideline to follow is to keep subject line length around 40 characters, and pre-header length less than 100 characters. While the shift to larger phones allows for more characters, measure how many of your subscribers are consuming emails on smartphones with larger real estate to determine the optimal length for your audience. As wearable devices become more popular in 2015, specifically devices like smart watches, brevity will be even more important than ever.
What's the View Like?
Dimensions for each platform differ, checking to see how your emails render on each platform and device your customers are using. Studies indicate that tablet users prefer consuming content and emails in landscape mode, while smartphone users prefer portrait mode. Designing a mobile-friendly email that looks great regardless of the view or device can be tricky, but responsive design can help your emails look great in most use cases.
Design Your Buttons With Form and Function
Unlike a desktop computer's mouse, mobile users use their fingers to click on links. Consider using buttons with compelling copy for your calls to action instead of links, and providing tap targets large enough for the average finger (Apple suggests 44x44 points). If your emails contain text links, space them far enough apart from other links to provide your subscribers a positive experience. Too small links requiring mobile users to zoom in to click the link, or links too close together that users end up clicking the wrong button, can affect their decision to interact with your email on mobile in the future.
You're Not Done Yet ... Don't Forget Your Landing Pages!
Email is the start of a customer journey, and in most cases the destination is a landing page. Optimizing emails for the mobile experience, but not having mobile-optimized landing pages can be a frustrating experience. Whether it is a link to a sale or a preferences center, make sure that the their entire experience is optimized for a mobile platform.
Tom Sather is Return Path’s senior director of email research. Tom uses his knowledge of ISPs, spam filters and deliverability rules to advise marketers on how to get their email delivered to the inbox. He began his Return Path career as an email deliverability consultant working with top-brand clients like eBay, MySpace, IBM and Twitter. Tom’s previous experience includes roles with email service provider Experian and on the abuse desks for AOL, Bellsouth, AT&T and GTE.