Many pundits have predicted the death of email, questioning its long-term viability in an emerging landscape. Despite those claims, email has been fueled by recent developments in the digital space, proving that it can be adapted to fit modern-day uses. First, social media was thought to be an "email killer" because it once again changed the way we communicate. However, social media and email have proven to coexist in a symbiotic relationship, with one mutually benefiting the other.
And now mobile and email are joining forces. Email was already a convenient way to communicate, but mobile has made it even more so. In fact, email is the most time-consuming activity performed on mobile. As marketers, we can truly benefit from this partnership, as long as we are optimizing our emails for the mobile space. Here's how:
Subjected to poor performance
Subject lines are an often-overlooked component of email marketing. Avoid special characters and lengthy subject lines (aim for 20 characters or less) to ensure deliverability and high open rates.
Zooming and scrolling
Screen size is especially small on smartphones, so be aware of that in your design. Typically, email providers recommend that emails range between 500 and 600 pixels (whereas a phone's screen is much smaller at about 320 x 480 pixels.) Doing so will enhance readership without having to zoom or scroll too much. Because smartphones vary in their screen dimensions, track the mobile devices that your target consumers are using so you can get an idea for how large to design your emails.
When it comes to mobile, the finger's imprint on the touchscreen is a powerful interaction. So when consumers give your mobile emails "the finger," I'm referring to opening and clicking (and, in the process, becoming qualified leads that are likely to call or visit). Just like pixels must be kept in check for optimal delivery, ensure that your clickable features, such as call-to-action buttons and in-text links, can be selected without difficulty. Understand how a finger interacts with the small screen so you aren't creating a frustrating experience. Can links be selected without accidentally clicking nearby items on the screen? Is zooming necessary to click? Ask these questions, and always test, test, test.
Remember that you have a small window to capture a user's attention and to make your message resonate. Also, keep in mind that the typical mobile user is busy and moving, so your messaging must be especially poignant and captivating. Write your emails with clarity and brevity, paying special attention to the use of bulleted lists and other formats conducive for easy skimming. Doing so will also reduce scrolling and zooming. Get to the point (mobile copywriting is a new game, so one to two sentences per paragraph is acceptable), and know that you can always include more information on a mobile landing page.
The slow mobile web
Mobile connections have fallen short of consumer demands by not delivering speeds as fast as those on desktops or laptops. That means weighing down your emails as large files, or embedding supersized attachments and images, will cause your content to load slowly. Only include images that are absolutely necessary to drive home your messaging. Ultimately, slow loading will inhibit users from waiting patiently, thus increasing the frustration with your brand, lowering your open rates, and jeopardizing sales.
Make sure your offers, promotions, and coupons can be viewed on mobile devices. And go the extra mile by ensuring that your store staff is ready and equipped to accept mobile versions of deals that cannot be printed.
Giving social some love
As stated in the introduction, mobile and email are becoming good friends, but social and email are on good terms, too. Throw a mobile-social-email party by including your social properties in all mobile emails.
Viewing on mobile devices
Some brands lack the time and resources to segment their lists by platforms. That means some segments of their target audiences will want full HTML versions for viewing on desktops or laptops. If that's the case, give readers the option to view your emails on mobile devices by offering both mobile and standard/text versions. To do that, include a link in your email -- front and center -- that redirects users to a mobile-friendly version.
The missing link
Something to consider when setting up your emails' call-to-action buttons is whether they should link to mobile pages (e.g., www.mobile.domain.com.) This will all depend on your list segmentation. At a minimum, your website should be rendered for the mobile screen, especially if you send readers there to get more out of your email marketing. Also, like your emails, mobile sites and landing pages, including URLs, should be succinct to improve readability and optimization; positioning on-site content "above the fold" is especially critical on a small screen (to keep content at the screen's critical position, remember that text-per-line -- about 20 characters -- and lines-per-page will affect mobile copywriting.)
The Flash-y approach
Click to call
OK, you've gotten the consumer to click through to your landing page; now what? Added conveniences like click-to-call functionality on mobile landing pages will simplify the process, increase performance, and help convert sales among highly specific, highly engaged mobile consumers. This is important because mobile users are more apt to contact businesses -- call or visit -- in a very short time, as well as purchase from them. If you're targeting consumers who are on the go, minimize clicks and quickly get them to the point of purchase.
With a deeper dive into your email database and analytics, you can personalize your emails based on behaviors, preferences, ISP, and a variety of other relevance factors. (Using an ESP will give you the ability to segment, personalize, track, target, and much more.) Of those factors, perhaps nothing is more important than location. When segmenting your emails based on location, you are reaching hyper-local, on-the-go consumers who are more purchase-ready than the typical consumer. In that case, redirect your location-specific emails to locally optimized content, such as landing pages and offers.
Gather as much upfront information about your email registrants as possible. On your sign-up page, include options for your readers to select, including how they're primarily accessing emails (e.g., desktop, tablet, smartphone, etc.). Gathering this information at the outset will help you segment your list and optimize various versions per the top platforms used, plus any data you collect will serve as an integral component of CRM. But understand that there isn't a one-size-fits-all solution if your audience is scattered across multiple platforms. Sure, you can create several email versions so you're targeting a few mobile segments, but you will never satisfy everyone. Target your highest engagers, best clickers, and biggest sales producers.
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