The following is an exclusive guest contributed post from Alyssa Nahatis, Director of Deliverability for Adobe Campaign.
More people use their smartphones for reading email than for making calls! In a report by Adobe last year, 79% of smartphone owners use their smartphone for reading email and 78 percent use their phones for calls (Adobe – “2013 Digital Publishing Report: Retail Apps & Buying Habits”). The smartphone and other mobile devices are clearly taking over as the way people monitor their email, so it seems apparent that designing your mailings so that they appear correctly on the phone is vital.
The challenge is that there are lots of different devices out there of different sizes, screen resolutions, power demands and storage capability. How can you insure that your emails will open successfully on them all? Here are some ideas.
As we discussed in our blog post about responsive email design, good design ensures that an email renders appropriately for the device on which it is opened. Now that mobile devices are the preferred way of accessing emails, it’s important that as a marketer, you ensure your customers get good experience through proper rendering of your emails.
Remember to Keep it Simple!
If you haven’t implemented responsive design into your email communications yet, you should at least keep the content and the layout simple. Use a single column and make sure there isn’t any need for horizontal scrolling. Don’t get lost in the technology and be sure to thoroughly test your email in all the different smartphone browsers. While it may be tempting to use fancy features like columns and elaborate menus, it’s risky as well. You don’t want to miss out on some business because your customer has a smaller, less capable device. And also make sure to include a link to the web-hosted version on your email within the message.
Larger Print is Better
Make sure the buttons associated with your call to action are optimized for fingers and not a mouse! Many users have a hard time hitting links that are imbedded in text. Use plenty of space for your buttons. Also, make sure your font is large enough to be easily read.
Adjust your writing
Be creative and get outside that proverbial box that may be making your emails appear ordinary. Emails need to be catchy and creative. A good rule is that you shouldn’t write an email as if it were direct mail without the paper. Your readers are on a smartphone and they are distracted, moving, and rushed. Be less formal and more to the point.
Where you put your most important content on a screen matters. In 2006, researchers conducted “eye tracking” studies on 232 users, studying how they looked at thousands of web pages. The dominant reading pattern looked like an F on the page, with users first reading in a horizontal movement across the upper part of the content area. Next, most users moved their eyes down the page a bit and read in a second horizontal movement that was a little shorter than the previous one. These two movements represent the upper and middle bar of the “F” pattern. Finally, users scanned the left side of the content, moving down at different rates. The research suggests it’s best to have your headline, call to action, and company information at the top of your email. See more on the concept of eye path and content placement at the Marketing Experiments Blog.
It also seems that users browse differently based on their intention. For example, if they have a goal in mind, people will usually move faster through a web page or an email and if they are searching, they go slower and move around the page. This suggests that being very clear and direct in your email’s purpose will be an advantage.
Test, test, test
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times – keep testing, keep in touch with your customers’ needs, and adjust your copy accordingly, always looking for the best way to get your point across in our ever changing technological world. It’s also important to test your emails to see how they render on various tablets and smartphones prior to deploying them so you understand how your customers will experience them.
Mobile devices have taken over as the dominant reading tool for so many things, including your email marketing pieces. Care and attention to the design of your emails so that they are optimized for most mobile devices can measurably impact the success of your email campaign.