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Overcoming the Digital World’s “Fat Thumbs” Dilemma

As everything from reading over the latest news stories to checking one’s email moves to the mobile sector of the digital world, there’s a growing problem that’s causing headaches for brands and consumers alike – the “fat thumbs” dilemma. While this might sound like a funny take on a not so serious issue, the truth of the matter is that failing to address this content development and user interaction concern could end up severely inhibiting the potential of your business to generate conversions in the inbox. If this doesn’t sound like an outcome that you want any part of, let’s take a moment to catch up on the particulars of the “fat thumbs” dilemma, as well as how best to build email content that enhances the experience of your mobile audience.

What Is the “Fat Thumbs” Dilemma?

Ben Frederick of Media Post’s Mobile Marketing Daily blog points out that, as the name implies, the “fat thumbs” dilemma is all about consumer frustration during the utilization of mobile devices and cramped screen space. Specifically, this issue addresses the intersection of two digital trends that directly relate to the world of email marketing: Smaller mobile technology and more on-screen features.

Each new wave of mobile device aims to jam more features and functionality into precious screen real estate, all while this viewing space often grows smaller and more cramped. When paired with banner ads, email-based images, clickable calls-to-action (CTAs), and the plethora of other inclusions that end up comprising the average marketed message, it’s no wonder that even those members of your brand audience with the most slender fingers and thumbs sometimes struggle with email navigation and touchscreen interaction.

Gauging the Impact of This Screen Space Issue

In terms of the actual hard numbers behind the “fat thumbs” trend, Nic Newman of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism notes that about 30 percent of consumers surveyed actively avoid digital content – including emails, webpages, and apps – where ads or other on-screen features interfere with the user experience.

Going a step farther, this growing concern has caused major online players like Google to adapt and change how they foster consumer interaction with these sometimes frustrating pieces of the mobile puzzle. In other words, if Google is taking the “fat thumbs” dilemma seriously with its display ads and other digital functionality, then it’s probably time that your brand did the same with its email marketing operations.

Building Email Offerings That Enhance the User Experience

Fortunately, jumping back to Ben Frederick’s post for the Mobile Marketing Daily blog shows that if you’re already invested in the email marketing process, then you’re significantly ahead of the game when it comes to dealing with this screen space and mobile interaction issue. Frederick reports that a survey from the Omnicom Media Group found that email was the most effective channel for mobile marketing – even surpassing Facebook newsfeed offerings.

Of course, simply telling you that email marketing is an effective way to connect with consumers while overcoming the “fat thumbs” dilemma doesn’t get you very far; it’s also important to provide you with specific tips and tactics for optimizing your content with these considerations in mind.

From this perspective, Phil Frost of Web Marketing Today suggests that there’s no better place to start than with a commitment to keeping things simple. As great as flash plugins and other graphic heavy inclusions might seem initially, these additions only serve to clutter and constrict the mobile experience for this portion of your following.

Outside of sticking to a basic design template and straightforward body content, try to keep your CTA in a place that’s easy to interact with and click when the viewer is ready to accept your deal. The top of the message is usually the best placement for a CTA, as this location ensures that the person on the other side of the screen can get straight to the point and take the next step in the conversion process in a timely manner.

Finally, before hitting the send button on your next mobile email marketing campaign, take a moment to test out this offering on your own smartphone or tablet. Spending a few minutes with your email from this perspective and gauging your own ability to navigate the message can tell you quite a bit about how this content will do once it’s in the hands of your valued audience members. If you’re able to enact this strategy, as well as put the rest of what you’ve learned here to good use, then there’s no reason why your brand will have to succumb to the threat of the “fat thumbs” dilemma moving forward.

About Victor Green

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