Just a few years ago it would have seemed science fiction: An automotive dealer unloads a rare new model and within minutes potential buyers receive full color images or even video of the exact car – that reach them no matter where they are, at home, work, the beach, or out on the golf course. Even Captain Kirk in the 23rd century had to content himself with just basic audio communication to the Enterprise.

The capabilities of today’s mobile web enabled devices were far beyond the imagination of Sixties screenwriters. But in lockstep with the wholesale adoption of mobile email marketing by auto dealers have come the problems: Crafting an email that displays properly on every possible smartphone, tablet and netbook has proven more difficult than brokering a peace treaty between the Klingon and Romulan Empires.

Almost 20% of Emails Are Broken in Some Way

Nearly one out of every five email campaign messages contains visible raw HTML code, broken images or dead links. This problem has been exacerbated by the recent proliferation of well over 2,000 mobile web enabled devices that utilize a wide range of unique display resolutions and browser interpretations. It is more important than ever to view your outgoing email messages through a simulator or emulator such as the iPhone Tester or Android SDK to ensure that they display properly on the most popular smartphones.

Emulators Are Good, Page Testing Is Better

There is no tool to provide an accurate rendering of the way your email will look on every possible screen in the mobile ecosystem, so your best option is to check your newsletter to ensure that it adheres to the W3C Mobile Web Best Practices via the MobiReady Page Test. This site evaluates your email message to determine what elements of your email break the rules and are thus more likely to display bizarrely if at all.

Dozens of Pass or Fail Scores for Your Email

The MobiReady test will identify images that are too large, parts of your email that are too heavily reliant on external tables or other resources and provide a broad selection of passes or fails on everything from character encoding to use of stylesheets. The test also includes an estimate of download speed on WiFi, 3G and GPRS systems. The extent of information and its accuracy is extremely impressive with possibly the only failing being the estimated cost based on representative charges to the user accessing via a usage-based tariff in different countries. The costs seem outrageously high, but given that there are still some very restrictive mobile networks in various nations, they might be applicable in a fairly small percentage of cases.

Check Your Links, Your Images, Your Everythings!

Nothing is more likely to kill your response rate than having a call to action featuring a dead link. That embarrassing situation occurs in an inordinate number of automotive dealer email campaign messages and is possibly the easiest of the major problems to fix. When you’re reviewing your email content prior to sending, ensure that you click on each and every link! Each aspect of your email has to be subjected to rigorous verification prior to sending it out to your customers. It must be you, not your customers, who discovers that your Flash video won’t play on iPhones; the image of the 2011 Hyundai Elantra is actually that of last year’s far inferior version; or that your link for the Ford F-250 goes to the Dodge Ram 2500 page.

Pre-launch inspection is the best way to ensure that your subscribers in this technologically advanced mobile age will not receive Romulan Ale when they expected Klingon Bloodwine. Live long and prosper!