Adventures in Email Marketing

Email Design for iPhones

I just bought an iPhone. Since everyone asks this, I’ll just tell you: yes I bought it after the price changed, and it’s a 4gig refurbished, so it’s probably the cheapest one you could probably get at $249.

The iPhone presents a unique challenge for email marketers. I have three accounts I check. Two on iPhone’s Mail, accessed via a POP account from Yahoo and another SMTP server. The third is Gmail Mobile. I access the Google Mobile site, and view messages on Safari. The iPhone mail interface is very slick, and renders very well, except for one or two little glitches. Gmail rendering, on Safari (the installed web server) is probably the tightest requirement set I’ve ever seen for HTML email rendering.

iPhone Mail:
- Edge, the iPhone’s data service, loads at around 200kbps. That’s pretty slow, so heavy image emails don’t get read.
- Some HTML layouts do not allow the iPhone interface to “zoom in” to read the email, so your customers are probably not reading the email, as it appears as 6pt text on a tiny phone. I’ve noticed if there’s a right loading image, in a table, the zoom doesn’t work. I’m testing for other constraints- feel free to comment below if you know of them.

Gmail Mobile on Safari:
- If all of your offer is in an image, Google won’t display it.
- Legalese takes up a majority of most emails from corporations and high profile retailers.
- Google mobile strips out all RTF and text formatting and turns it to straight text, in their styles.
- Google mobile does not recognize alt-text.

Big Picture
iPhone and Gmail on iPhone is a very, very small percentage of your audience, you’re saying, so there’s no need to create a version just for them. But it is possible to alter an existing design to please all interfaces. I mean, who doesn’t want to avoid being caught with their pants down? I saw a former client’s email with absolutely no offer and only legalese, because they had put all of their offer in a single dominant image.

General Recommendations for Design
- Add captions to text, or just make sure your offer is in text somewhere in the email.
- As usual don’t rely on a single image to sell
- Be conscious of the email’s overall file size
- Limit the use of right side images and tables if you want descriptive text to be read (the zoom-in issue).

More Reading:

There doesn’t seem to be a lot on the iPhone now, probably because it’s hard to take a screen shot and describe what we’re seeing, and it’s so new.

Special Report: Email Marketing to BlackBerrys – Usage, Formatting & Rendering Tips When Blackberries were king, and according to this, a very large percentage of “decision makers” are reading your email on small mobile screens.

How can I make the most of my mobile email? Great tips on designing, and crafting, emails for a mobile audience.

iPhone Presents New Mobile Design Challenges A more indepth review of basic HTML and web design issues with the iPhone.

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Written on Friday, 28. September 2007 at 07:34 In the category design, techniques. Follow the comments via RSS here: RSS-Feed. Read the Comments. Trackbacks- Trackback on this post. Share on FriendFeed

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9 Comments »

  1. [...] What I *Think* They Should Read – Email Design for iPhones. Mobile mail has been difficult for a while now. With the spread of more iPhones, and the tough requirements of Gmail, I’ve noticed many issues that email marketers should consider to get this early adopter customer segment. – Why Bulk is Bad. Companies still want to send big blasts to get the big money. What they’re missing out on is lower costs and even higher revenue percentages. This is the argument of why transactional emails are better than bulk, but seen from the bulk viewpoint. – Splitting the Email System- Inhouse and Outsourced. A client wants to bring the entire outsourced email system inhouse. What I’m proposing is a mixed solution: inhouse and outsourced. [...]

    Pingback: Adventures in Email Marketing » Adventures in Email Marketing Recognized in Top 20 List | – 02. October 2007 @ 10:57 am

  2. [...] Thank god. It was a big disappointment when I got my iPhone, that my Gmail email wasn’t flowing through the Mail iPhone application, like other accounts were. Instead I had to go to Google mobile and access it there. Well, that was for the quickest solution- I could also use the Gmail POP account, which, admittedly, I never got working right. [...]

    Pingback: Adventures in Email Marketing » Gmail Going IMAP | – 24. October 2007 @ 12:55 pm

  3. [...] Gmail blog just posted on a new interface for the iPhone on their site. This is great, since the Gmail solution on the iPhone has been very problematic. I promptly logged in and checked it out: – automatic zoom in on letters, [...]

    Pingback: Adventures in Email Marketing » Gmail for iPhone | – 14. January 2008 @ 4:10 pm

  4. [...] Email Design for iPhones [...]

    Pingback: As iPhone Sales Soar, Is Your Email Ready? : The Messaging Times – 22. June 2009 @ 12:57 pm

  5. Everyone is missing the bigger picture though aren’t they?
    You could invest thousands into developing emails to be read on mobile devices, but what is your content? If you are sending out sales messages, forget it, you don’t have a direct platform to convert your message into a goal do you – nobody buys products via their mobile, they’re just too smart for that.

    The only exception would be if your product was in the appstore for example, Perhaps someone could click through a message about downloading the app from an iPhone linking straight through to the appstore page, but this doesn’t work via the phone as far as I can tell.

    People need to stop wasting time targeting mobile devices – unless it can be proven that it increases market gain.

    Comment: Avangelist – 08. January 2010 @ 11:03 am

  6. I love getting email on my iPhone, so no, it’s not a waste of time at all.

    Comment: banane – 08. January 2010 @ 11:16 am

  7. I use Gmail to back up my business emails. I have an forwarder on my hosting that forwards all incoming emails to a Gmail account and in Thunderbird I have it set to send a copy of all outgoing emails to the same account.

    I can’t believe how often I use the Gmail search facility to find stuff I’ve lost, usually receipts and passwords.

    Comment: Rob Johnson – 03. April 2010 @ 11:11 pm

  8. You’re right Rob- from the company’s side, the email domain doesn’t necessarily inform them *how* the user is viewing the email, as you can setup various forwarding scenarios, like you have. I think with the increasingly awful spam situation more and more people are moving their email to webmail accounts – where the spam filtering can be implemented just as fast as spammers invent ways to get around them. The more people use webmail, the more forwarding goes on. From reports, the growing trend to embracing gmail and yahoo is balanced against the decreasing trend of using client applications.

    Comment: banane – 09. April 2010 @ 3:45 pm

  9. Awesome, blog post!!

    Comment: Greg Harris – 21. May 2010 @ 10:30 pm

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