A recent report on mobile email newsletters by usability guru Jakob Nielsen had my undivided attention. It provides some very useful findings at a time when we’re actively helping several of our clients with various types of mobile optimization for email and Web.
Several items in Jakob Nielsen’s new report on mobile email newsletters struck me as important.
First, it’s a misnomer to talk about “mobile newsletters,” as e-newsletters being sent by organizations are being read on both desktop computers and mobile devices. The predominant usage of e-newsletters is cross-platform, whereby people sometimes consume an e-newsletter on the computer and sometimes on mobile.
Given this dual-platform reading, Nielsen doesn’t recommend offering subscribers the choice between desktop and mobile versions of an email newsletter because you don’t know where users will be reading them.
Instead of having two newsletters, Nielsen recommends the use of responsive design which allows a newsletter to be displayed in multiple columns when opened on a desktop computer, and in one column when opened on a mobile phone. Furthermore, he writes, if you can’t use responsive design for your email template, consider staying within a single-column layout because it will work best on phones.
Here at Donordigital, we’ve been helping our clients adapt their email templates using responsive design techniques, so their messages can be opened and read more readily on multiple platforms and devices. Now more than ever we think it makes good sense for organizations to make this transition, particularly with mobile phone and tablet sales at their highest historical levels, and tablet sales outpacing computers and laptops.
Another theme in Jakob Nielsen’s report that challenged my thinking is the theory that mobile reading of newsletters actually increases their importance in the ecosystem of online content. I’ve assumed for years that e-newsletters were dying a slow death and that their complete demise was inevitable. Nielsen challenges that assumption by contending that mobile use makes email newsletters an even more important way to say connected with supporters, especially as mobile devices are used extensively while people have time to kill and are browsing content. Well designed and easily browsable newsletters can deliver vital branding messages to supporters, contends Nielsen, and those supporters will hopefully take time later when they’re back at their computer or laptop to follow up on a topic of interest.
Read the full article: http://www.useit.com/alertbox/mobile-email-newsletters.html
Michael Stein is a Senior Account Executive at Donordigital, the online fundraising, marketing, and advertising company. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (510) 473-0364.