Recently, Taylor Morrison sent an all-hands email to its employees nationwide at 10:30 a.m. Pacific time—right in the middle of the workday.
The email was important to the company, which was seeking ideas for ways to distribute its annual holiday philanthropy fund, says Jaclyn Rygg, senior communications manager at the home building company. Nearly 68% of staffers—including those at their desks—opened the email on their handheld devices.
“When we send things late at night, we expect mobile [readership], because people are at home making dinner, and they’re curious when they see email come though anyway, so they check it,” Rygg says. “But during standard business hours for all of our time zones, that’s a pretty high read rate on mobile.”
Even organizations whose employees are chained to their desks can expect a high email readership rate on mobile these days. They peek at their smartphones between meetings, clean up the inbox over lunch or check out the latest happenings after glancing at the weather app.
“Mobile communication is imperative in today’s workforce,” says Karen Eckmann, head of corporate communication for CSG International and member of Ragan’s Communications Leadership Council. “It is more distributed than ever. Workers aren’t tied to physical offices or workstations.”
Employees today expect similar experiences at work to what they have in their personal lives, Eckmann says. They want to be served content that is most relevant to them. They expect mobile apps, email for mobile, alerts and access to workplace platforms from mobile devices.
“Twenty to 50% of your audience will be accessing internal broadcasts on mobile devices,” says Michael DesRochers, founder and managing director of PoliteMail, which produces software for internal email monitoring. “We have clients who routinely are seeing 40–45% of their email on mobile.”
Here are ways to improve their email experience:
1. Use mobile responsive templates.
No doubt every email you send out looks readable and pretty on your desktop monitor. Bear in mind, though, that phone screens are small, Rygg says. Your employees will grow frustrated if they have to scroll left and right to read each line, and up and down to see an image.
This is especially important in emails from Taylor Morrison’s CEO. These tend to be well read, but communicators don’t want to annoy their workforce.
Generally, people reading work messages on their phones use Outlook, which often shrinks the page to fit the mobile window, DesRochers says. An easy-to-read 12-point font on the desktop becomes a seven-point squint on mobile.
2. Design for those small handheld screens.
People generally filter email based on whom it is from and what it’s about, DesRochers says. On desktop email, there’s room for a headline and pictures in the preview. For mobile, the question, “What’s it about?” takes priority. You must get across your message within the 30-character subject line, plus two 30-character lines of text visible in the preview.
That changes the way communicators must think about how to compose the message that gets people’s attention, and how to get the main points across.
Fit your most important content and key messaging within the first 300 pixels, DesRochers adds. It is far more effective to move the open enrollment link or button right up top. Even those just glancing at the inbox can figure out what the message is about and what you expect them to do.
3. Write informative subject lines.
Avoid vague email subjects along the lines of “company update,” Rygg says. Seize every opportunity to inform your audience. “If they read nothing but the subject line, do they know what the message was about?” she says.
Eckmann recommends tacking on an “FYI” if it’s an informational email. If they should reply, add “response requested.”
4. Make it easy to scan.
When crafting the message, write for skimming, Eckmann says. Use subheads, boldface, italics, indentions, bullets and short paragraphs with plenty of whitespace. Also, include more images and infographics. Summary content with links to websites or other resources provide the reader additional context without having to include everything within the email.
5. Make sure your links work from smartphones.
Employees have come to expect a smooth experience on mobile email—including access to video, intranet articles and other content, Rygg says. Make it easy to click through. If your audience can’t get through your corporate firewall on the phone, don’t expect them to track down the email and follow up the next day on the desktop.
“With modern mobility tools, corporate resources become accessible to authenticated mobile devices,” DesRocher says, “and employees are more apt to read their communications on mobile when the content works all the way through.”
6. Send periodic roundups.
Say it, and say it again. CSG sends out a monthly “in case you missed it” email, formatted with a recognizable banner and including links to company news and information. The email is laid out in segments with subheads and icons. It gets 85% to 90% open rates, typically draws a 70% engagement with the content.
“Its whole purpose is designed to engage people with the content,” Eckmann says. “We are expecting them to skim and click.”
This article is in partnership with PoliteMail.