When It Comes To Email, Think Big By Going Small

There’s a worthwhile article by Luke Wroblewski from 7/1/2013 at his tech blog (h/t Thomas Cott) which examines the impact of mobile device usage on email by becoming the primary point of contact for most recipients. Wroblewski’s post is short and sweet, mostly sourced statistics; but what it should do is get you thinking about how you design your email blasts. And that’s a good thing since some performing arts org e-blast design still trends toward multiple (even stacked) columns featuring big, heavy, and long content; none of which translates to the nirvana of mobile device consumption.

ADAPTISTRATION-GUY-140To make matters worse, email clients continue to be one of the most frustratingly inconsistent formats when it comes to design and rendering standards. Granted, things are improving, and one of the ways you can avoid some of nagging trouble spots is by pairing down your email design.

Shorter messages, fewer images, and improved multi-platform testing can make this task much easier.

For example, email marketing provider MailChimp offers a useful dual mode preview that simultaneously displays your message in both desktop and Smartphone platforms. The Smartphone version can be rotated from portrait to landscape while you watch how your copy and content shifts in real time via the responsive layout. Here’s a 30 sec screencast to illustrate how this works (yes, there is no sound so don’t turn up your speakers unless you want a rude surprise later in the day). Share and enjoy.

I’ve been using this service since it went into beta earlier in 2013, it worked great then and became even better when they released it into the wild. Overall, it is a terrific tool at helping tighten up email messages that work better in all device platforms. Adaptistration’s Weekly Email Summary subscribers likely noticed the change to this new format back in March, 2013 when the email template adopted a cleaner, more efficient look. Since that transformation, all of the related metrics have increased; opens, click rates, and shares.

All of this is part of a larger shift in online design which we’ve been examining for the past two years but came together in a post from 7/23/2013 about authentic design; an absolute must read if you missed it first time around.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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