Mobile device penetration skyrocketed last year. Worldwide, tablet sales hit 54.8 million units in 2011, according to research firm Gartner Inc., up 181% from 2010. Meanwhile, businesspeople now carry an average of 2.68 devices with them, according to market watcher iPass Inc.
A recent iPass study—“2011 Mobile Enterprise Report”—which surveyed 224 global IT executives online between May and August 2011 found 77% of respondents had provisioned Research in Motion's BlackBerry devices, while 52% had Apple Inc.'s iPhone. The takeaway for marketers? There's a really good chance your emails are being read on mobile devices, and that's not necessarily good news, said Yvonne Tocquigny, CEO of Austin, Texas-based interactive agency Tocquigny.
“People are in a hurry, so they are basically processing, scanning and deleting. When we get someone on a smartphone, they are much less likely to stop, consider and interact with emails,” she said. “That's the risk we're all facing.”
Tocquigny's media director Luke Bone provided these four tips to help increase user interaction:
- Design specifically for mobile. This has been said in the past, but today, experts are suggesting that instead of creating two versions—both HTML and text-only—of your messages, it's better to stick with one text-based version that's optimized for mobile. “Designing around the 500-to-600-pixel width so the email renders correctly and is easily scanned by someone without having to pinch or scale it to read it is a good idea,” Bone said. Design elements such as buttons have to be big enough for a user to click on but not too big that they take up half of a mobile device's screen. “44-by-44 [pixels] is the smallest size button you want to create because that's about the size of a thumbprint.” Bone also said to use H1 and H2 tags so headings and text are differentiated and readers don't get confused.
- Make subject lines shorter. Premobile subject lines had a sweet spot of between 50 and 55 characters, Bone said. Today, email subject lines have to be even shorter so those who are using mobile devices are prompted to open your messages. “They should be between 15 and 20 characters,” he said. “You've got to put your best right upfront. That alone can get better open rates.”
- Watch link placement. Since most marketers or their email service providers use tracking links, which can be more than 100 characters, it's important to place them carefully within your text. “When you get a text email, you get a wrapped link—an encrypted link—that breaks up the paragraph. One of the things we've done is specifically designed link placement so that they are not embedded within the paragraphs,” said Bone, who suggested placing links below a paragraph rather than in it so that text flow is not interrupted.
- Change your call to action. Downloading PDFs or video on some mobile devices is time- and patience-intensive. Make it easy for readers to connect with you directly by adding a click-to-call button in your email or on your mobile landing page. Bone had one warning, though: “Don't do it unless someone can answer the call,” he said. “You can set up your Web server to only show that option during certain times of the day when the call center or your sales staff is available.”