How can I make the most of mobile e-mail?

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Answer: With so many business professionals now using mobile devices like the BlackBerry, marketers can’t afford to ignore mobile e-mail. But a successful initiative takes a new approach to thinking about the e-mail channel.

First, the challenges. Mobile e-mail comes in dozens of shapes and sizes, with little standardization on either the creative or technical fronts. Beyond text messages and SMS, which do little to promote a real brand experience, it’s tough to design e-mail creative that works across all types of devices. And, of course, marketers can rarely tell whether a user is checking e-mail on a computer or a mobile device, so it’s difficult to deliver different creative to these different segments.

Despite these constraints, marketers can—and should—take the time to create an effective e-mail marketing strategy. Here are a few tips to get started today.

  1. Create an online “preference center” that lets users indicate whether they mostly read e-mails on a mobile device or a traditional computer. Even better, let users select different types of e-mail for specific devices. An alert-type message may be great for mobile, but newsletters are better for computers, for example.
  2. Make sure every e-mail has a “preheader” that lets users “switch to a mobile-friendly version” or “switch to a standard Web browser.” (Remember, if you offer these choices, make sure to actually have two versions of the e-mail available).
  3. Create mobile e-mail messages that are succinct, clear and concise, and have minimal graphics. In the b-to-b market, these messages could be a “click now” promotion, a heads-up about a new blog post or a service offer.
  4. Send out individualized, time-sensitive alerts when your customers want to be contacted (for example, a billing reminder one week in advance). These alerts take time and data to set up, but their relevant and convenient messages will turn your customers into mobile e-mail converts.
Julian Scott is creative director at e-mail marketing provider Responsys (
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