This year thedatabank is holding our 3rd Databank User Conference in Minnesota for our clients. While we haven’t released this year’s sessions yet, I can be so precise as to inform you, I will be holding a session on email templates. As I dive into the rabbit hole of just what this means, I’ll be generating a series of blog posts along the way about email templates. Can’t attend our User Conference? Not to worry, clients and non-clients alike will be able to benefit from these posts, and after the session I’ll post a recap here.

For my first post, I’ll delve into addressing the elephant in the room: Mobile Email is a Big Hairy Deal.

Why is sending email to mobile devices such a big deal?

For a couple of reasons:

  1. Over 27% of email opens happened on mobile devices in the second half of 2011, and that number will only continue to increase.
  2. Optimizing emails for mobile devices is a challenge.

What you should know about mobile email trends

According to the Knotice report issued in April 2012: Mobile Email Opens Report 2nd Half 2011, mobile opens increased 36% in the second half of 2011 as opposed to the first. Furthermore, a recent Nielsen Report announced that over half of all cell phones in the US are now smartphones. Other findings from those reports of note: recipients of your messages do not use their phones for ‘inbox triage’, as 95% of opens happen on only one device and the click through rate for mobile emails lags far behind that of a non mobile device.

Although this is speculation, it is most likely the lack of content optimized for mobile that is suppressing this click through rate. This can be a combination of both the difficulty of tapping the link in the email message and the lack of an optimized page for the person to go to. Some of my personal experiences with emails on my smartphone have left me trying to carefully tap a link over an over, squint my eyes to read the text, or scroll around maniacally searching for the content that interests me.

Why is mobile email such a challenge?

1. Email technology lags behind the web.

The more technologically inclined of you may be aware that a lot of what’s exciting about the web right now is due to adoption of HTML5 and CSS3 standards in browsers. None of these improvements have been adopted by email services. Additionally Javascript, which allows your web pages to be interactive, is not supported by any email service.

2. The screen sizes vary from device to device.

Devices to view your online content come in many shapes and sizes. Your email can now be viewed on everything from an iPhone (4.5’ x 2.31’), to a big screen television, and everything in between.

How can you make an email with content for your nonprofit that looks good in all of those different formats?