For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are the instructions how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.

Mark your calendars for Something on a Stick Day

Or, how to create better emails for mobile devices.

Poster design by Matthew Labutte.

Where I'm from (the Ozarks), food just ain't food unless you can stick it on a stick. A remarkable amount of human ingenuity has been applied to the challenge of taking food that typically requires these pesky things called utensils and transforming it, via stick, into something portable.

Meatballs? On a stick.

Fried pickle? On a stick.

Hot bologna? Not nearly as bad as it sounds, and also, on a stick.

So why not make plans now to honor this completely non-made-up holiday called Something on a Stick Day, coming up on March 28? It's a chance to celebrate food's portability. So sure, it's a fine excuse to have six fudge pops for dinner. It's a good occasion to make sure your emails are portable, too, and to take a look at email marketing on mobile devices.

Email on the go is popular, folks. Checking email is the number one thing people do on their mobile phones, according to the comScore Mobile Year in Review for 2010. Research from Knotice tells us that for every 100 people who open your email, 13 of them will see it on their smartphone. And of those 13, five of them will be eating a delicious chicken satay. It's true.

With that in mind, here's some advice for creating a better email experience for your mobile readers, no matter how much or how little you know about it.

Level Corn Dog: basic mobile advice anyone can use

+ Mobile readers are busy readers, so keep your emails focused. Consider sending shorter, more frequent email campaigns with a single story or call to action.

+ Obsess over your subject line. Mobile users may check your email on the go but also save it for more thorough perusing on their laptop a little later. A thoughtfully written subject line will do wonders to grab their attention. (Molly's holiday subject line tips are good year-round.)

Level Pork Medley Kabob: slightly meatier tips for the mobile-minded

+ Pretty up your plaintext. While more and more smartphones display HTML, some mobile devices show the back-up version of your email that's in plaintext. Use special characters, capital letters and tasteful line spacing to highlight your headlines and set off your links.

+ Ask a smartphone user in your office to join your email's test group. Just seeing how your last campaign looks on an iPhone will make you more mindful of mobile when you plan your next one.

Level Deep-Fried Twinkie on a Stick with Chocolate Glaze: more involved ideas for decadently mobile-friendly emails

+ Smartphones typically show the first few lines of an email that readers scan before opening (or, alas, deleting). Create a line at the top of each campaign that succinctly conveys the point of your message — what the special offer is, what's in this issue, when the party's happening, what food-on-a-stick will be served at said party, etc.

+ Consider creating two versions of your email — standard and mobile. Ask your subscribers which version they'd prefer to receive, then segment and send accordingly.

+ If you're serious about mobile email rendering, invest in a service like Litmus or Email on Acid to preview your email on a variety of smartphones (and other email clients, too).


What about you? What emails grab your attention on the go? Have any of these ideas worked or not worked for your email marketing? Do you have any special plans for celebrating Something on a Stick day? Can I come?

(Oh, and for more skewered food entertainment, see what portable food the always-fun folks at Neatorama found last year.)

Photo credit and poster design: Matthew Labutte