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How can we ensure that our e-mail marketing is reaching our handheld audience?

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We field a lot of questions about optimizing the e-mail experience for handheld users—a relatively difficult topic to address, considering there is no standardization around message rendering on a handheld device. BlackBerry versus iPhone is the most common battle, but you can certainly receive and send e-mail on a number of other devices as well, and those challenges tend to be less apparent and less mainstream by way of conversation. There are two pretty popular responses when addressing the question above, and we are going to look at the quick pros and cons you should consider for each. Then we’ll let you decide.

Option 1: Identify which recipients are receiving your e-mail on a handheld browser and flag them to receive text messages.
Pro: You know the recipient will be able to read the e-mail on their handheld device.
Con: You have systematically destroyed the e-mail inbox experience for the recipient when they are sitting at their computer. Folks often forget that the e-mail you receive on your handheld device is likely being redirected from an e-mail account that you actually check on the computer as well. The optimal solution is to optimize for both experiences. E-mail recipients do not want you, the marketer, making those blanket decisions for them. They control the marketing experience today, not you.

Option 2: Include a “view on handheld” link in the preheader or navigation, allowing the recipient to easily navigate to a hosted version of the message that can be viewed in their mobile browser.
Pro: You are systematically allowing the recipient to dictate, in real time, how they would like to interact with your message depending on where they are viewing it, thus optimizing the experience for both screens.
Con: You will likely lose any dynamic content or personalization that happened in the e-mail in the hosted, handheld version. Some e-mail sending platforms will allow you to continue the personalized experience through to a handheld message version, but not all.

Kara Trivunovic is senior director of strategic services at StrongMail Systems (www.strongmail.com).

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