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Three Links About Mobile Optimized Email That Changed My Life


by Shane Geisheimer

Here at DigitalDay, we’ve been talking about optimizing for mobile devices a lot lately. Most of that conversation has centered around Mobile Website Optimization and Responsive Website Design for the Mobile Web. As part of that, it’s been a natural segue into optimizing Email for Mobile Devices.

In a survey (of 1) of my email Inbox I looked at 10 emails from recognizable Brands and surprisingly found that 0 for 10 these emails that were optimized for mobile devices.

You may ask, why is that surprising? Shouldn’t big brands with large budgets be dedicating a portion of their budget to developing mobile optimized experiences? I mean c’mon, they spend countless hours of resource time optimizing for open rates and click-through rates by Multivariate testing and Subject Line testing. But when you think about what changes you have to make to optimize for mobile devices you start to understand more about why this fundamental shift hasn’t taken place in email design.

Image

First of all, it takes some CSS ninja skills to pull it off and most companies don’t have the kind of experts we do on staff . . . but that’s not the reason.

If you take a closer look at what the structure of a Mobile Email Design requires, the light bulb goes off. For more than a decade designers and marketers have been trying to create an environment where email recipients can get relevant content from the Brands in a newsletter-like format, where they can get previews and click for more information. In fact many marketers call their monthly emails, Email Newsletters. Actually, we’re just as guilty of doing this. But the reality is that emails ought to be nothing more than a notification that triggers a response, at the most basic level. 

We spend time tweaking and optimizing the content to convert to clicks, like any other form of digital marketing. Wait a minute, keywords… optimize, convert and clicks. Bingo! Email needs to intice people to click on it. We’ve seen approaches from all images, to text-heavy structure. But if you take the content and break it down you have images, text and links. A more responsive layout therefore takes the content and in a smaller viewport/screen size stacks the content… just like it does in a Mobile Web Browser.

So what is the real reason that this paradigm shift hasn’t taken place? Simple, the Email/Web Design Community has not truly embraced designing to accomodate a Mobile Optimized layout. This takes a modular approach and with it comes a drastically different way of approaching an Email Design than is traditionally done today. Brand marketers simply have not taken this approach and therefore emails continue to be disseminated as “old-school” layouts.

So what are these 3 links that I speak of?

  1. The first outlines the secret sauce to pull this off technically:  Make Your HTML Email 5½ Times More Mobile Friendly
  2. The second gets down and dirty with how this concept can be brought to life and business cases for it:  Email + Mobile
  3. And the 3rd puts it all into perspective: Email Client Market Share: New Stats

     

So how do we get from ground zero to becoming experts? Well the first thing is to go out to these sites, sign-up for their newsletters and begin seeing real world examples: 

http://www.3sixty.com
http://fab.com
http://www.pinterest.com
http://www.campaignmonitor.com
 
Again, this isn’t far off from Responsive Design for Mobile Web. So similar rules apply.
 
How do we truly embrace this? Most importantly, we need to continue to educate our clients to get them to break the old paradigms and demonstrate improved results. Secondly, we need to challenge our information architects, designers and developers to think mobile in everything they do.

We’ve embraced the second part here at DigitalDay — now it’s up to the clients.

 

 

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