Adapting your email marketing strategy for smartphones. It's a must. Not an option.

Question - How many times have you looked at your smartphone to check your e-mail today? It pays to be connected, right? E-mail was the defining feature of the early smartphones, and remains to this day, an integral part of the smartphone culture. We know it’s been important for business for some time; when was the last time you used “out of office”?

But developments, like the ones below, have really started to drive consumers towards using their mobiles as their preferred email media.

  • Bigger and better screens.
  • Faster and better access to internet to download images (decent size ones).
  • Cost effective data packages.
  • Technology to render better HTML designs.
  • Larger memory capacity.

All good news and since the boom years, a lot has changed, but some things have not. Studies consistently show good e-mail marketing strategies still deliver ROI higher than any other digital advertising medium, (expected to be as high as $39.40 for every dollar spent in 2012*). Now that’s a big number!


Why does this matter?

If you have an email campaign in place, your customer has knowingly agreed that they would like you to engage with them through e-mails. That’s great! But if you haven’t adapted to mobile yet, your beautifully designed, well timed email now goes from the decent monitor that shows off your design and sells your content down to the screen of the mobile in your hand.

Some common problems faced are:

  • Long subject line - words are not visible to the viewer.
  • Wide newsletter - sideways scrolling is annoying and will put off your reader.
  • No plain text version.
  • Small body text is not easy to read.
  • Using non-English language characters - may not render appropriately. (Did you know that Google has yet to add support in Android for right to left languages like Arabic?)

Recommendations:

  • Subject line: Keep it short. Keep it sweet.
  • Make sure the width of the newsletter is reasonable, centred and aligned.
  • Email campaign clients like iContact send a plain text version for you - cover all angles.
  • Keep the fonts big in the body text so as to differentiate from the background.

Other mobile specific recommendations are:

  • Drive the viewer to the “phone friendly” version of the email - normally a hosted page.
  • Get segmentation right - find out who prefers to read on phone vs desktop.
  • Design the newsletter with mobile in mind, with scripts encoded to automatically adjust width.

Our conclusion

The mobile email target audience continues to grow. Your email marketing strategy needs to adapt to these changes in media and trends. Start with small steps, making sure the little things are done right. If you already have a well-designed newsletter, and cost and time are limitations, it may be easier to start with making small mobile focused changes to it or hosting a simpler version on your website, optimised for the mobile browser with a link from the newsletter.

But if you want to take your email marketing campaigns to the next stage, consider your target audience, how they want to be communicated to and develop email designs to cater for them. Using techniques like Progressive Disclosure (where content sits behind a button and is only displayed once clicked) will provide consumers with an easier view-what-you-want interface on their mobile devices.

Infographic describing how mobile emails connect with customers

Reference:* DMA's Power of Direct Report