Accessing emails on a mobile device is a modern day convenience for many – allowing the ability to access and respond to emails from virtually any location. However, reading an unoptimised email on a mobile device can quickly turn into a nightmare with unmitigated amounts of finger-scrolling and blindly searching for relevant information.
Rapid changes in user behaviour within the email marketing industry are currently driven by the strong adoption of smartphone and tablet technology, particularly within Australia. The most up-to-date, authoritative report on mobile device use (ACMA’s Report 3 – Smartphones and Tablets: Take-up and use in Australia) noted that in May 2012 an estimated 8.7 million Australians aged over 18 used a smartphone. Within smartphone users, over 47 per cent nominated mobiles as their preferred device over desktop and tablet. It can only be assumed that figures have increased over the past months. With increasing user uptake, how can email marketing efforts adapt to retain user engagement?
Firstly, the most important principle to uphold is that of creating a seamless user experience across all communications. At the most foundational level, best practice principles for desktop email creation still hold true for mobile email optimisation. This means knowing the audience – optimal send times per industry; what subscribers are reading, and what they’re clicking on; crafting concise, tailored subject lines, and creating engaging marketing messages.
All leading smartphones are capable of rendering HTML code, to a certain extent. This enables email widths to automatically resize to fit the device’s screen. To make the most of this smartphone feature, some essential design principles are starting to become evident amongst digital leaders in email marketing. These are namely, the structure of single columns rather than two or three column formats, and the design of ‘finger-friendly’ buttons and links.
For a truly mobile-friendly experience, however, emails can be built much like responsive websites. Using code, email elements can be automatically rendered to fit the screen-type that opens the email. As well as resizing content and auto-formatting, coding for responsive emails can also hide navigation and content for mobile readers only, focusing messaging and catering for shorter attention spans. With the reader in mind, responsive emails are the all-encompassing solution to providing the most fluid digital experience across mobile, tablet, and desktop devices.
As the digital marketing landscape evolves right before our eyes, it’s important to note that email marketing is by no means, a declining trend. As the habits and behaviours of consumers change to meet technological advances, organisations must also adapt to continue to deliver a seamless user experience. While it’s comforting to note that the basics and best practice still hold true, it’s exciting to consider the possibilities for organisations when responsive email design is incorporated into their digital strategy.
Source: ACMA, Report 3 – Smartphones and Tablets: Take-up and use in Australia, May 2012