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'Cater to Goldfish' and other words of advice for making your eblasts more reader-friendly


I recently redesigned the monthly e-mail newsletter of one of our clients to be mobile-compatible, and am preparing to do so for another. Why? Well, according to email testing and analytics company Litmus, email open behavior has changed dramatically over the past four years. Between 2011 and 2014, the percentage of emails opened on mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, increased from eight percent to about 50 percent. This represents 500% growth! That is a huge shift in behavior.

Managing email is one of the functions most commonly performed on mobile devices. When users encounter email that is not mobile friendly, they get frustrated and frequently delete it without reading, and may not even open future emails from you. This can kill your open and click-through rates, when what you really need is for your reader to open, read and find value in your email content. Optimizing email to facilitate an enjoyable and engaging experience on mobile devices has become crucial.

Here are six tips to keep in mind when designing email for mobile:

Provide a sneak-peek
Pre-header text provides a preview of the first few words of the email either behind or below the subject line that is visible on most mobile devices without opening the email. This allows the recipient to scan his emails and helps in deciding whether or not to open them. Intriguing pre-header text can spark higher open rates.

One size should fit all
Use a responsive or flexible design. Responsive means that the content automatically adjusts to fill the screen space available, be it a mobile device or a desktop unit. This is easily done by using a responsive or mobile-friendly template provided by third-party email services.

Eliminate scrolling around
Use a narrow (480 pixels), single column design. Multiple columns can be difficult to read for mobile users, especially if they have to scroll around to view all the information. Make sure you use a font size that is large enough that your reader doesn’t have to zoom in by pinching in and spread out in order to read your content.

Cater to goldfish (hint: they have short attention spans)
A study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information showed that people have an attention span of 8 seconds, which is 1 second less than that of a goldfish. Keep your content short, relevant and easy to follow. Use headings and bullets to break up large blocks of text. Readers “on the go” will be more likely to read content that’s brief and can be absorbed at a glance.

Let fingers do the walking
Make sure any buttons and links are easy to tap on a mobile touch screen. Make sure they are large enough, and don’t place links too close to each other. Keep in mind that users often hold their devise in one hand, with the thumb doing all the navigation. If you use a menu bar, keep the number of navigational links to a minimum.

Make it worth a thousand words
Images can be great for adding visual interest. But using too many or using large images can exasperate users with lengthy download times. Also, many mobile devices have automatic display of images turned off by default, leaving blank areas in the message. Use ALT text for any image you do use to provide context when images are blocked.

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