The digital marketing landscape is in the throws of transformation and to be honest, it has been for quite some time. People aren’t just using digital devices like smartphones, tablets, laptop computers and more with increasing frequency – they’re becoming a more essential part of their lives with each passing day. Just when marketers felt they had a handle on how to optimize content for a digital platform, throwing out all of the “best practices” of the days of print, a new wrinkle comes along and shakes things up yet again: mobile.
In just a few short years, mobile has come along and usurped traditional desktop and laptop computers as the dominant form of digital consumption on the planet. It isn’t just enough that you’re sending a well-designed, targeted e-mail message to clients – now, you have to think about the actual EXPERIENCE that they’re getting, too. Make no mistake about it: if you aren’t optimizing your e-mail marketing messages for the mobile experience, you will never have the ability to unlock the results that both you and your organization are really after. This is true for a wide range of compelling reasons.
The Power of Mobile
To get a better understanding of just how important mobile e-mail marketing now is, it’s important to look at the rise of mobile technology in general. Many experts put the “big bang” of this industry in 2007, when Apple unleashed the first iPhone on the world. Prior to that point, the vast majority of all cell phones were purely designed to make and receive calls, send the occasional text message and do little else. After that date, they’ve become essentially virtual personal assistants that people carry around with them in their pockets all day and the world has reacted accordingly.
According to Pew Research Center, 64% of American adults owned a smartphone as of October 2014. A full 7% of adults in the United States say that they are “smartphone dependent,” which means that they can’t even fathom not having their device with them throughout the day. 44% of smartphone owners say that they sleep with their devices next to their bed at night because they don’t want to miss an important text message or e-mail, even though they’re not awake.
So what does this tell us? The mobile platform isn’t just popular – it’s popular in a hugely intimate way. Nobody sleeps with their laptop next to their bed, but they DO keep their smartphone with them at all times. With 29% of smartphone owners describing their phone as “something they can’t live without,” this is an incredibly powerful new medium that is just waiting to be taken advantage of.
Mobile E-mail Marketing: The Silver Bullet You’ve Been Waiting For
E-mail marketing has always been one of the most effective marketing channels that businesses have relied on for years to reach their target audience instantly, but when you begin to take a closer look at mobile’s effect on this technique the results are almost startling. According to EmailMonday.com, 45% of all e-mails sent were opened on some type of mobile device throughout 2015. Desktop computers come in second, but it’s a distant second at 36%. Just 19% of all e-mails will be opened in some type of webmail client like Gmail.
If all of these techniques were participating in a race, mobile devices just won before it even really started.
Even when an e-mail provider DOES have webmail client, users are still choosing to open those messages on their mobile phones. Litmus estimates that 68% of Gmail and Yahoo users still open their messages on their smartphones or tablets first, every other format second.
Much more interesting is the fact that according to Radicati, by the end of 2018 the total number of mobile e-mail users in the world will total over 2.2 billion people. Around the same time, it is estimated that a full 80% of them (or 1.76 billion people) will choose to access their e-mail accounts by their phone.
According to Smart Insights, mobile commerce (meaning people who are buying things from a smartphone or tablet) now accounts for an amazing 30% of all e-commerce in the United States. Going above that, most people who see an e-mail message and are motivated to make a sale will actually do so within 24 hours – making it one of the fastest forms of marketing communication in addition to being one of the most effective. People don’t just love reading e-mail from mobile devices – they love spending money from them, too.
Have you started paying attention yet? It’s clear that mobile e-mail is one of the most effective marketing channels that you currently have, but what are you supposed to actually do about it? Luckily, the answer to that question is relatively straightforward.
Mobile E-mail Marketing Best Practices
One of the single biggest things to keep in mind when designing a mobile e-mail marketing campaign is the quality of the experience you’re giving a user. Remember that smartphones not only commonly have smaller devices, but they’re also almost exclusively navigated through a touch screen interface. This means that your text needs to be big enough to read AND that your links need to be big enough to tap on.
This also likely means that walls of text have got to go – think about how much scrolling someone would have to do to read even 500 words in a mobile e-mail. If brevity is the soul of wit, it is also the soul of mobile e-mail marketing effectiveness – get in and get out.
Responsive Web design is a great way to help address exactly this, by allowing you to design ONE version of an e-mail that will then automatically optimize itself for any smartphone or tablet the user reads it on. If a user opens an e-mail on an iPhone versus a Samsung Galaxy, they should get two completely different experiences because these are two dramatically different devices.
Another one of the most important things to consider when crafting finely tuned mobile e-mail campaigns is that it isn’t just about sending A message – you need to send the RIGHT message. According to Clickz, the single biggest turnoffs that people have in terms of mobile e-mails are receiving too many messages in too short of a period of time. Other reasons users reported for deleting messages without reading them include that the messages weren’t relevant, that the text was too small to read and interact with on a mobile device, that the website or landing page that the e-mail directed them to was not mobile optimized and that the message was ultimately not formatted well for mobile phones.
This is a big deal, because it means that your mobile optimization has to continue BEYOND just the e-mail itself in order for your e-mail messages to reach their true potential.
Above all else, it’s important to understand that different service providers will handle the e-mail experience in different ways and you need to know what you’re getting so that you can give the best possible experience to your customers. Some e-mail service providers like Mail Chimp, Constant Contact and more are designed with novice users in mind – they often have things like proprietary code that may not work well in other systems. This may be great when you’re first starting out, but as your business continues to grow and evolve (and your target audience gets more savvy), they’re going to start looking for something a little more advanced that you might not be able to get through these channels.
When thinking about things like responsive design and mobile functionality, it is of paramount importance that you discuss these features with your e-mail servers, marketing agencies and more. Even though the mobile platform is undoubtedly a popular one, it is still essentially the “wild west” in terms of how to do things – there is no one “right” or “wrong” way to get the job done. Only by entering into a much deeper discussion with the team you’re working with will you be able to take complete control over your mobile e-mail marketing and give your customers exactly what it is that they’re looking for.
We officially live in an age where mobile e-mail marketing and messages optimized for smaller devices with touch screen interfaces isn’t just an “important” part of your campaign’s success – it is arguably THE single most important part that you have to focus on. An e-mail that looks terrific on a laptop computer may not offer the same high quality experience on something like an iPhone. These are two completely different mediums and should always be treated as such, even though they both exist in a digital space. It isn’t enough to JUST do mobile e-mail marketing – you have to know how to do it RIGHT. Failure to do so puts your entire organization at risk of losing some very important ground in the digital battlefield that now exists.