Tips and Trends 2011: Getting Seen on Any Screen
The Internet is constantly developing and has become a place where users are searching for experiences rather than just information. This means that our customers, members and subscribers want fast results and high usability – without needing to learn complex and technical systems. In order to create successful email marketing campaigns that result in strong recipient experiences, the email marketer has to be able to handle design and layout challenges, while keeping email integrity a top priority, especially when it comes to permission.
The web experience is, without a doubt, increasingly extending beyond personal computers to mobile devices such as smart phones and tablet computers. In the year ahead, email marketing will take an essential role in an environment where more and more potential customers are reading their email. Social media users are becoming more mobile, and with this, we are seeing more interaction between social media and email.
Not only is it time to consider how websites can be best developed to meet the needs of users who are navigating with their fingertips but future email design will also be influenced more by mobile devices, and the gap between computer email and mobile email will continue to close. As this arena grows, small businesses are starting – or will need to start – designing email marketing campaigns for mobile phones. However, in order to design successful email marketing campaigns for mobile devices, as savvy email marketers, we also need to consider a few areas where email for personal computers and mobile devices differ:
Message Width: One of the most obvious and critical differences between computer screens and mobile devices is the size of the display. If you are accustomed to using 800 or 600 pixels for the width of your HTML emails, consider reducing it further to as little as 400 pixels to ensure that your content works for a mobile audience.
Font Size: Font sizes that you might consider normal on a computer screen can appear illegibly small on mobile devices. This is especially problematic when the text or part of it also acts as a link. Many mobile devices have touch screens so the linked text needs to be large enough and separated enough from nearby links to easily activate with your fingertips.
Content Length: Many people aren't exclusively mobile in their email reading habits. Instead, they use mobile devices to scan their emails while they are away from their keyboards or to pass time while waiting for a train or a bus. They might re-read the most interesting email more closely later once back at a computer. Therefore, it's important that the content length is conducive to such quick scanning. Long paragraphs can be difficult to read and require lots of scrolling on a mobile display, which detracts from the overall user experience.
Plain Text Version: Email marketers have long been advised to always include a plain text version of their HTML messages for subscribers who cannot or do not want to read their mail in HTML format. This is even more important when interacting with mobile users since email applications on the various mobile platforms can be even more unpredictable in their capability to handle HTML than email clients on personal computers.
Line Length: Short headlines and paragraphs are equally important for plain text messages. Desktop-friendly headlines and line lengths can easily wrap across multiple lines on a small mobile display. This is especially important to consider if you are accustomed to using paragraph or section separators that run for 40-60 characters as these can easily wrap and clutter the display of the entire message. Always test your email marketing messages, both the HTML and the text part, on the most popular mobile platforms of your target audience before sending large-scale campaigns.
Mobile connectivity will gain more market share as mobile browsing continues to grow. The integration of smart phones and tablet computers with quickly evolving high-speed mobile data networks is a signal to email marketers to get in front of these trends in 2011 and to start taking advantage of mobile-based opportunities.
And remember to make sure that your email messages live up to subscriber expectations – on any screen.
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