Preparing for the Age of Mobile
Many marketers were reminded of the new world of email marketing recently when a Return Path study predicted that by year-end mobile will be the leading platform for email, overtaking both web mail and the desktop PC. In other words, the percentage of your audience that's opening and trying to read your emails via their mobile device is going to be the majority of your subscriber base within the next six months to nine months.
The last thing email marketers’ need is another to-do added to an already bursting task list. The mobile train has left the station though and you need to not just deal with it but take advantage of it. Here's what you should be looking to do right now to prepare for (or catch up with) the inevitable:
- Check your mobile audience size. Work with your email service provider or a company like Litmus to understand the mobile read rate of your audience. For our clients, we see anywhere from 20 percent at the low end to upwards of 70 percent at the high end. This metric validates for both you and others in your organization that your audience reflects marketplace trends and that the effort to focus on mobile readers is worth prioritizing.
- Ensure your emails are mobile optimized. This doesn't necessarily require a separate version of your email; it does require that the design and code teams for your email campaigns work closely together to keep mobile readers in mind. It's also possible to use Cascading Style Sheets 3 (CSS3) to identify screen size/resolution and then render the appropriate HTML version, optimally sized message for that reader. Multiple versions of the HTML are created with this approach. In general, design consideration factors include the size of the primary call-to-action button(s), the padding around the button(s), image size, width of the message and amount of copy.
- Mobile optimize the ENTIRE experience. Want another scary stat to make your case for the need to mobilize your email program? In our experience, 80 percent of the time a user clicks out of an email via their mobile device the site or landing page isn't mobile optimized. That leads to a poor, if not impossible, experience to navigate. Worse still, the subscriber assumes that experience is representative of ones they'll have again with you in the future. Make sure that wherever clickers are directed, the mobile-optimized experience continues.
- Augment basic best practices from your "regular" email program. Think the from line, subject line and pre-header are important in the desktop environment? They're more important in mobile as readers’ try and manage their inbox in bite-size chunks, looking for any reason to delete a message from their inbox.
- Create messages that are focused and to the point. Long and wordy is tough enough in a traditional inbox, it's impossible in a mobile one. Of course the hallmark for any messaging program — relevance — is required to ensure subscribers devote time beyond deleting the email.
Testing is so key in this evolving world where new approaches to creative are pursued, including designing for a right-handed audience (approximately 90 percent of the general population), eliminating or shrinking traditional header content (logo, search box, site tabs, etc.), and accommodating different devices (e.g., tablets versus handhelds).