With mobile devices ranging from smartphones to iPads to e-readers to netbooks, the question isn’t if you need a mobile strategy for your email marketing program, but when. You’re ready to go mobile when you’re ready to offer a complete mobile experience. Your mobile website needs to be live and engaging, otherwise you’re linking from email messages to a weak experience. If you don’t have a mobile website yet, focus on length and formatting for your mobile readership. Start with these three key questions to get your program ready:
1. What percentage of your audience uses mobile? There’s no doubt that smartphone penetration is deep and trending deeper, but before you invest in a mobile experience you need to know what percentage of your audience reads your emails on a mobile device. They may be on their mobile devices all day, but not interacting with your messages at those times.
There are several pixel-based tracking services that can help you track activity, audience segments by type of device and the response activity where devices are a differentiator. Also consider offering a mobile option in your preference center to help gauge how popular mobile is for your specific audience.
2. Do you have content particularly well-suited for mobile viewing? It makes perfect sense to generate mobile-specific messages for some content. For example, daily-deal coupons or information targeted specifically to users traveling may warrant mobile makeovers. However, many marketers start with a “middle of the road” approach, at least initially. Even the most avid mobile users still access some emails on desktops, so it’s probably not optimal to design all messages only for mobile. Start slowly, test, measure and let those results guide you.
Remember that mobile email design can change some of the fundamentals. It’s more than just brief copy, streamlined navigation and narrow table columns. You must design for fingers and not a mouse, so links and buttons must be easy to read and navigate. There’s also no alt text or “hover” state for a touch screen. Take this seriously. A recent study of 1,000 consumers by BlueHornet found that almost 95 percent just deleted messages when they were poorly formatted for their mobile device. Yikes!
3. Have you adapted your message to readers who are on the go? When you’re ready to create email messages specifically for mobile users, tighten your focus and make sure the content is short and succinct. Mobile users typically scan emails while they’re waiting to do something else, so their attention spans are particularly short. Don’t waste their time.
As with any effective email marketing campaign, your goal is to target the content so you’re delivering the right message to the right person at the right time. Use short and compelling subject lines to engage the reader and focus on increasing the personal and external relevance of your messages to make sure you’re connecting. In addition, it’s important to remember that smartphones are individualized digital ecosystems. Users are likely to be unforgiving if they think you’re spamming this personal space.
Segmenting mobile email messages from your overall email campaign can be very beneficial, provided you identify where mobility is a differentiator and then adapt your content to the small screen. As always, your goal isn’t to “just sell”; it’s to engage and build relationships. Use a consistent, integrated and thoughtful approach and your mobile email campaigns can lead to considerable competitive advantage in today’s increasingly mobile marketplace.