E-mail marketing is on the move

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Marketing e-mail through mobile devices can be a challenge for marketers, who may not yet be comfortable developing messages for the third screen. Four experts offer their tips.

Mike Thompson
Chief deliverability officer, ClickSquared

Challenging your audience to find what they want on a screen that is no more than an inch high is a surefire way to render apathy rather than fos­ter return readership. If possible, get your users to opt in to mobile device e-mails, so you can more easily identify and segment to build custom content.

Once you understand consumer preferences, design the content specifi­cally for its intended use. Make it simple to engage. People will navigate away from an e-mail in seconds if it doesn't load. Mobile e-mails should be brief and require little scrolling. The call to action should be as close to the top as is possible.

Use a single-column setup. Most mobile e-mail readers, including those installed on Symbian devices, Palms and BlackBerrys, can't display multiple side-by-side columns. They will haphaz­ardly reorganize the page back into a single-column screen.

Think about how you link. Hyper­linking text will not always render and remain clickable. Ensure that your links will be clickable by the broadest range of readers possible.

THE TAKEAWAY
Create an opt-in list to help you segment your target audience


Eydie Cubarrubia
Marketing communications manager, MobileStorm

E-mail is reaching consumers no mat­ter the time of day or where they are. However, technological limitations, dif­ferent phone models and screen size all mean that marketers need to carefully craft the messages they plan to send.

E-mail sent to BlackBerrys are a critical way for marketers to reach early technology adopters, who tend to have disposable income. Marketers should limit header sizes, put as much text as possible on the opening page and place links and images at the end of a message so as not to distract readers. Because BlackBerrys have minimal JavaScript capabilities, marketers should not use scripts within the HTML page.

Apple's iPhone appeals to a broader demographic. The iPhone's ability to offer a full-screen Internet experience closer to the personal computer means that design issues aren't as important.

No matter what device, mobile e-mail allows for richer messages. Coupons, newsletters, and other content with an immediacy factor are some of the mobile e-mail opportunities awaiting marketers — and their engaged customers.

THE TAKEAWAY
Calibrate your message to display well on a wide range of mobile devices


Greg Cangialosi
CEO, Blue Sky Factory

Mobile e-mail offers little in the way of standardization, making it difficult to design creative that works across plat­forms. Further, marketers are unable to determine whether users are checking e-mail on a computer or on a mobile device. Some devices will only display text-based e-mails, while improperly rendering any HTML.

One common solution is using a mul­tipart multipurpose Internet mail exten­sion (MIME), which includes both an HTML and a text-only version in the same message and displays the version that the user's e-mail client is set to dis­play. Another tactic is to link to a mobile friendly version of your e-mail at the top of the creative, allowing mobile recipi­ents to easily view a text- or browser-based version of the message.

Marketers must concentrate on focused, succinct content messaging. The proliferation of mobile devices and the increased demand for mobile e-mail requires a strategic response by e-mail marketers.

THE TAKEAWAY
Implement a multipart MIME to hedge against different devices' e-mail clients


Len Shneyder
Director of partner rela­tions & individual communications, Pivotal Veracity

The vanguard of smartphone users have upgraded their devices annually, opting for better features and more powerful gadgetry. However, the e-mail clients on the most popular devices haven't evolved as dramatically.

For years, Blackberry users have been reading HTML e-mails without the images, formatting and stylistic elements marketers intended them to see. Make sure that your carefully crafted mes­sage is multidimensional and there is as much meaning in your copy and text as your images.

Since mid 2007, both Enterprise Service and Blackberry IS display the HTML part of a multipart message, but with all HTML tags removed.

This is a key distinction, as you must ensure that what remains in your HTML e-mail after formatting and tags are removed will retain a coherent meaning. Blackberry recognizes URLs even when they are hyperlinked, and will display both the hyperlinked text (but not as clickable text) as well as the full URL, which will be clickable. Symbian, the most popular OS outside of North America, behaves similarly.

THE TAKEAWAY
Simplify your mobile e-mail messaging, eschewing HTML in favor of quality copy

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