Apple Watch, What are We Going to do with You?
By Aaron Pearson, Listrak senior graphic designer
The email world has been scrambling to learn the impact that Apple Watch will have on emails. We’ve kept up on some recent findings from around the email community, and decided on a course of action for our emails. Here’s the lowdown on this new gadget.
Get Used to Plain Text
The first thing you’ll notice is that Apple Watch isn’t going to load your nicely designed, html email. When the watch detects any image it will skip the html file and instead jump to the plain text version.
The most frustrating feature that will not be supported is the ability to track opens. Opens are tracked when images are loaded within an email. Since the watch will not load inline images, an open can’t be tracked.
Plain Text Best Practices
Listrak gives the option to add a plain text version of your message from the New Message page. While it has always been considered a best practice to use this feature, Apple Watch makes it more of a necessity.
Some more limitations of the watch have forced us to look at plain text in a new way. Some marketers try to replicate all of the content in their plain text message, including links. Apple Watch doesn’t have a browser, so links become greyed out and unusable. Only phone numbers, dates, and addresses will link to the corresponding apps on the watch.
This shift in mentality will force email marketers to get creative with their plain text. It’s best to think of plain text as a way to get the attention of your customers, not to engage them directly. Focus on the most relevant content and place an emphasis on a call to action that drives your customers to open the email on an html supported device.
“Get 10% off. See your coupon code when you view this email on an html supported device.”
“The full version of this message isn’t available on Apple Watch. But you can read it on your computer or mobile device.”
Subject line and preheader text are now more important than ever. Both are still visible on the watch’s inbox. Keep your subject line to a minimum length and add urgency to remind the reader to check when they have another device available.
Avoid using unnecessary special characters to add breaks in content within the plain text. Too many line breaks make it difficult to read the mesage.
It’s always a good idea to use plain text whether you’re concerned with supporting Apple Watch or not. Several other devices will only display plain text as well, such as Blackberry phones. Many inboxes give users the option to view plain text by default. This is preferred by some readers. Also, SPAM filters often check to make sure a plain text version of the email is included. Without it, some deliverability issues can occur.
Apple Watch may be a step back in rendering support for out emails, but it’s a good reminder to setup plain text and consider the importance of our main calls to action.