A Publisher’s Guide to Mobile Optimization
[Editor's note: Something to consider while reading this article—Mobile optimization on sites, or landing pages mobile email users will see upon clickthrough, will become even more important for publishers and content marketers on April 21, when Google's algorithm will officially change to promote mobile-friendly search results.]
The publishing industry has been transformed by the transition from print to digital forms of media. As the industry continues to evolve, the important takeaway for publishers is this: If you're not effectively communicating with subscribers via email, their preferred channel, you're not fully engaging your audiences to drive advertising and subscription revenues.
However, according to a recent FOLIO: survey, 16 percent of publishers say their emails are not mobile-optimized and they aren't sure where to start. That's a staggering number, given where audiences are moving and their increased expectations for relevant and contextual engagement.
What Mobile Means for Email
Email works because it drives traffic to content-rich sites, increases engagement and loyalty via personalized offers and far outperforms every other digital channel on return on investment (ROI), averaging an impressive $44 for every dollar spent.
Mobile can deliver contextually relevant email content to audiences who are always on the move. The key is to remember that the mobile medium is "in the moment." Unlike print newsletters and magazines, the mobile medium is actionable, time-sensitive and always-on. It is best at delivering short bursts of information that are scannable, consumable and digestible for an audience whose attention span declines in direct proportion to the size of the screen on which they view it.
Whether cell phones, smartphones, tablets or apps—it's clear that the time to optimize for mobile is now. So, how can you ensure your mobile strategy helps drive subscriber engagement and revenue? Here are some tips.
1. Track Audiences to Find Out What Mobile Devices They're Using. Ensure your email service provider (ESP) is able to report not only on traditional email metrics, but also what devices your messages are being read on. This will provide you with specific counts to help prioritize your mobile optimization efforts, as well as determine the best approach for doing so. Additionally, this information can be used to tailor specific offers that target the users of specific mobile platforms (e.g., mobile apps, etc.).
2. Determine the Best Way to Optimize Your Emails Based on Analysis of What You Learned About Your Subscribers' Mobile Usage. In most cases, responsive design will be the best solution for designing messages across multiple devices and screen sizes, but not always.
3. Implement Your New Design—But Make Sure You Thoroughly Test It First. A new mobile-responsive design is not guaranteed to return better results, which is why testing is important. Employ multivariate testing practices to understand how subject lines, images, content blocks and calls to action perform across different devices. If a design has a negative impact on your email open rates, then it's time to go back to the drawing board and figure out what's wrong.
4. Finally, Keep Measuring Performance. Just because you have adapted your messages to the most popular mobile devices doesn't mean that they won't change in the future. New devices, email clients and operating systems are coming out all of the time, and you need to be ready to tailor your messages for them to keep all your audiences engaged and your advertising revenue flowing.
Email is a proven tool for customer acquisition and engagement. As a result, publishers must optimize their emails, newsletters and links to content for viewing on a wide spectrum of mobile devices. In today's digital world, it's no longer a luxury, it's a business imperative.