How To Design Your Email Messages For Mobile Devices

According to a 2007 study, 64% of key decision makers are reading your email messages on their Blackberries or PDAs. To grab their attention, and make sure your mail gets read, it's important to follow these guidelines:

Front load your subject line. The first 15 characters are key. On many PDAs, the subject line is truncated and your reader will only see the first 15-20 characters, so be sure to put the most important information at the beginning.

If your message is urgent, say so. Many people will use Blackberries as a supplemental email device. When they're out in the field, they'll scan through their inbox on their Blackberries, but they'll wait until they're back in the office to really delve into reading their email.

If it's critical that your message get read and acted upon immediately, add the words "Urgent" or "Due Today" to the beginning of your subject line. But, be considerate of your readers and only use this tactic when the message really is urgent. If you cry wolf too often, soon your messages won't be read at all.

Because you never know how your emails will be read, always compose your messages using multi-part MIME. Make sure the important text is at the beginning of the message. Current Blackberry devices have 320px wide displays - keep this in mind when designing your message.

Snub the prevailing advice - do not include your company name in the subject line. I've read more and more marketing experts suggesting that you include your company name at the very beginning of your subject line to aid in "branding". I must say, I totally disagree with this logic. If your "from" line is formatted properly, there is no need to waste the limited space in your subject line. Your subject line is too precious to include duplicated information.

If you're a B-to-B marketer, give readers the option to subscribe to the PDA version of your email, in addition to text-only or html options. Then design your email accordingly.

Remember, mobile users don't read, they scan. When checking their messages in their Blackberries, they'll be looking at cluttered rows of from fields and subject lines, and they'll make a quick decision as to which message is relevant. Anything you can do to ethically make your message stand out will improve your open and click-through rates. Try adding symbols like * or ^ but use sparingly to avoid spam filters. And use keywords that will stand out as your reader is scanning the inbox.

And, finally, be sure to test your message across multiple platforms.


Karen works with entrepreneurs who own high traffic websites and helps them implement split testing and optimization to recover the revenues they don't even realize they are leaving on the table.

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