Mobile messages in an e-mail world

As the mobile phone continues to become the main communication device, e-mail rendering on mobile devices has become a serious issue. Since many mobile devices only display text e-mails, e-mail marketers have a challenging time separating their mobile users from their traditional computer receivers.

This segmentation will be necessary to ensure proper rendering of their messages to non-HTML friendly e-mail clients. It will also be difficult for e-mail marketers to determine the true open rate of their campaigns because of this growing user base.

What can marketers do to combat some of these issues? Mobile marketing messages need to be designed for text so that a Blackberry or other similar device can read it. This might bring people back a decade, but some of the same tactics will yield successful results. Marketers should use uncommon characters such as asterisks and equal signs to make the message more visually appealing. These symbols can also be used to segment paragraphs or bring out certain messages, for example. 

Headlines become highly important to attract attention. A clear and exciting subject line needs to drive the same readership as sophisticated graphics. Also, since the screen of a Blackberry or other mobile device is about 320 pixels, messages should have a column of text that is no more than 50 characters for the easiest reading.

Many times, when an e-mail marketing campaign is not yielding results, the first area a marketer will look at is the list. In the case of mobile marketing, it might not be the list itself but the way people are accessing or not accessing your message. Keep in mind that the majority of those reading mobile messages are business people with a Blackberry or other device. If the b-to-b opens are declining, it might not just be deliverability, it might be format and mobile access. It is a good idea to survey your list with a text message asking if they are using mobile devices. Users can opt in for mobile versions of the message, and marketers can segment their list for best results.

Improvements in mobile communications are rapid, and issues related to message design and segmentation will quickly change. But in the meantime, a few easy steps can increase opens and get your message to the right people. Whether communications are done via e-mail or mobile device, customizing the message and reaching the right audience is always going to be a highly important issue.

Elie Ashery is president/CEO of Gold Lasso.

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