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How can b-to-b marketers effectively craft email for mobile devices?

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Gone are the days when only the most tech-savvy had a smartphone. Today, one in three Americans owns a smartphone and that number increases every day. We're no longer tied to our desktop computers, and more of our daily tasks take place on the go. This includes reading email. According to Return Path, 16% of all email is viewed on mobile devices. And people now read email everywhere—in line at the grocery store, in the waiting room at the dentist office, in excruciating long meetings at work—so it's increasingly important for b-to-b marketers to craft emails that take into account the mobile environment. Building an email for mobile readers isn't difficult, and with an emphasis on simplicity, it may even make your job easier. Check out some tips for making the most of the mobile environment:
  • Keep it brief. Mobile design used to be rather text-heavy and boring. Current mobile devices allow for far more sophisticated graphics and design, but it's still best to keep these elements streamlined. Opt for a layout with one or two columns of content, and consider highlighting one main story and limiting the number of images. Instead of adding a sidebar of upcoming events or staff photos, consider using it in another email. Also, remember that some mobile readers still receive text-only versions, so remember to edit the plain text version.
  • Grab attention. Multitasking readers with short attention spans mean your campaigns have to make an impression with recipients right away. Craft your subject line to play off the campaign's call to action, and encourage readers not only to check your emails on the go but also save them for later, more thorough perusal on a laptop or traditional PC. Most smartphones preview the first few lines of an email before the reader opens it. Use this real estate to succinctly convey the point of your campaign.
  • Design to sell. Mobile email campaigns still need to perform, and making smart design choices can help ensure that happens. Keep your call to action near the top, and make it finger-friendly and tappable. Apple's Human Interface Guidelines recommend creating buttons at least 44-by-44 pixels. Ensure your email campaign looks its best on a small screen, and consider pushing the contrast. Avoid font colors that are similar to the background, and increase the font size to keep things eye-friendly as well. Remember that, aside from Apple's iOS, most mobile platforms automatically block images. Always add alt-text so the reader will see a description of an image before it's displayed.
  • Putting a little thought and a few of these suggestions into your current email strategy can make the experience for your mobile readers more memorable. You'll see the benefits in more immediate responses and a bigger bottom line. Miles Price is a customer support specialist at Emma Inc. (myemma.com), an email marketing and online communications company.
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