Fall 2011
Making Web Communications Mobile-Friendly By Melissa Kellogg

You send out email blasts and your store has a powerful website. But all that would be pointless if your customer couldn’t see either with her mobile device. Here’s how to make your communications mobile-friendly.

Your customer has a Smartphone and uses it to shop with coupons, look for information and check out your store’s website. Mobile phone usage will overtake PCs as the most common web-access devices worldwide by 2013, according to Gartner Inc., an information technology research and advisory firm headquartered in Stamford, CT. By neglecting to make your website and email marketing more accessible on mobile devices you could be alienating customers, missing sales opportunities, and losing to the competition. It’s time then to make your emails and website mobile-friendly.

Matthew Toren, a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of YoungEntrepreneur.com, points out that while mobile marketing is revolutionary, it certainly isn’t rocket science. In other words, you—maybe with a little help—can make sure your store is friendly to users on a new platform.

You can communicate more effectively with your Smartphone-using customers by making some relatively simple changes to your email marketing and website.

Making email mobile

Since your email-marketing tool is one of your biggest sales arsenals, it is important that every email you send be read widely, says Julie Niehoff. She is the Texas-region Regional Development Director for Waltham, MA-based Constant Contact, a company that provides email marketing, online survey and event marketing tools.

Niehoff says there are important steps you can take to insure your email marketing blasts are mobile-friendly:

From line

Since most mobile phones in their displays give emphasis to whom emails are from, it is important to include a “From” line that will be easily and instantly recognizable to your readers, says Niehoff. For example, if you are sending out your monthly newsletter, you may want to state that in your “From” line. Or, if you are sending a special invitation to a new product preview you may want to go more personal and include your name, followed by your company name and then use the subject line to convey that a special Invitation is enclosed.

Subject line

The subject line is the second most important item for grabbing your mobile readers’ attention. When crafting your subject line, Niehoff says, ask yourself ‘Why does this email matter today?’ When scrolling through emails, says Niehoff, most people make split-second decisions on whether each email is important now, later, or never. If your email falls into the ‘later’ or ‘never’ categories you have already lost the battle. So make your email subject line relevant for today and do it in the first two or three words of the subject line.

Copy tips

There are numerous things you can do with the body of your email to make it more mobile-friendly and grab the attention of your mobile users, says Niehoff. Most people, when opening an email do not scroll top to bottom or side to side. So make sure you capture your reader by presenting your call to action as close to the top left of your email as possible. Avoid too many, if any images at the top of your email; instead opt for text, says Niehoff. When using images make sure to use alt-tags, which are text descriptions of images used for text emails. Keep your copy short and sweet. Also, when setting up the layout of your email, opt to place any navigation or links on the left hand side of the email. Finally, consider including a pre-header message that lets readers know they can view your email in a web browser.

Always test

Remember to always test your email. Send yourself a test version, ideally to multiple email accounts, including your own mobile phone. On your phone, check the appearance of your “From” line, subject line and make sure the images and text look okay. Unless the recipient has an iPhone or Android, which accept HTML emails, Niehoff says most email-marketing services will send text versions of emails to mobile phones. If your staff, friends or family members have different phones than you do, send test emails to them to see how the message appears on their phones as well. Niehoff also recommends testing all the links in your email message from your mobile phone.

Making your website mobile-friendly

With mobile traffic skyrocketing, making your website mobile-friendly gives you a unique opportunity to gain the upper hand on your competitors, says Toren. There are a few different options to consider—changing some of the design aspects of your current site, creating a separate mobile-ready site, or making greater use of sites like Facebook and Google that are already mobile-friendly. Toren recommends starting small. One of the easiest and quickest things to do is to learn from what other major websites have done, says Niehoff. Google, Facebook, Twitter, and others are already very well developed for mobile with slick viewing and navigation abilities. Take full advantage of their capabilities and you already have a jump on going mobile. Follow these tips:

Google Places

97 percent of mobile phone Internet searches originate from Google (according to NetMarketShare.com), so make sure you have your Google Places (google.com/places) listing up-to-date and fully populated with current information, photos, and reviews. You can even include special offers and coupons on your Google Places page, all for free.

Facebook

Make sure you have fully populated your Facebook page with items shoppers need quick access to like your address, phone number and store hours.

Creating a mobile website

Toren says the next step is to launch a mobile landing page that contains your store’s most important information such as its name, a short description, a phone number (with click-to-call feature using standard HTML), and physical address as well as directions. There are several affordable tools online that enable you to create a separate mobile website for your business. Although this may sound daunting, mobile sites tend to be quite basic in terms of information and complexity so it is not likely to take a great deal of time to create a mobile version of your website. There are a variety of different options from do-it-yourself mobile web editors to companies that will do it all for you. A few popular providers include Mobile Meteor, Mobify and MoFuse. Toren suggests checking out Google Sites (sites.google.com), which is free, and wapple.net.

“Mobile is the future,” says Toren, “addressing it now doesn’t put you one step ahead, it puts you four or five steps ahead.”

Melissa Kellogg

Kellogg is a freelance writer specializing in mountain home and living trends, marketing, real estate and business. She is based in Edwards, CO, and is a regular contributor to Mountain House & Home magazine. Her work has also been published in various newspapers and magazines, such as Beaver Creek Magazine and the Vail Daily.




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