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The Mobile Evolution of Email

  |  September 26, 2011   |  Comments

With consumers doing more and more on their phones, the need to deliver relevant email messages has never been more important.

The blending of mobile, email, and direct marketing has been building for the last decade, but as marketers, we have to recognize mobile as the mainstream channel it has become. As an email marketer, we also need to be aware of the mobile platform's impact on email marketing. Here is a brief rundown of some statistics that highlight the state of mobile.

  • Morgan Stanley reports that there were more smartphones shipped in 2011 than laptops and that smartphones now outpace the growth of simple featurephones this year, a disparity that will nearly double in 2012. The company estimates that there will be 119 million smartphones shipped in 2012 compared to 67 million featurephones. What is more staggering is that smartphones have outpaced PC shipments.
  • Arbitron Mobile reports that the average user spends an average of 671 minutes per month messaging on their smartphone and an average of 667 minutes per month using apps. According to the company, voice use is third in terms of how we spend time on our smartphones. With such usage shifts, "mobile gizmo" might be a more apt name for these devices than something with the word "phone" in it.
  • There has been explosive growth of social platforms on mobile devices. Twitter reports 182 percent growth in mobile users in the last year. There are more than 250 million active users currently accessing Facebook through their mobile devices and Facebook reports that these mobile users are twice as active on Facebook than non-mobile users.
  • Email is moving to the small screen. A survey by my firm found that, overall, 39 percent of consumers ages 13 and older check their personal email each day on their mobile device. This number soars when we zero in on key age groups, such as 27 to 32 year olds (66 percent) and 33 to 38 year olds (52 percent). Ensuring that not just your email renders appropriately on the small screen but also your landing pages and website is a top priority for email marketers. As smartphones become smarter and more capable of rendering HTML cleanly, there will likely be less of a need for such specialized mobile markup. However, for now, test your sites and pages with free tools such as Ready.Mobi.

With consumers doing more and more on their phones, the need to deliver relevant email messages has never been more important. The surveys that my firm has conducted continue to underscore that consumers simply delete messages that are not relevant to them or come too frequently. I discussed some of that data and the upside of relevance in this column. As marketers, we must deliver a consistent and enriching customer experience across every device and channel.

Begin investigating mobile tactics that can grow your email subscribers, such as enlisting short codes to drive email registration through SMS texting. Overall, 8 percent of consumers that my firm surveyed stated that they have opted in to email programs using SMS text capture, a number that again soars when we look at younger and affluent age groups, jumping as high as 20 percent in some demographic groups. My column from last month dives deeper into the topic of mobile-driven email acquisition, and in my aforementioned recent conference journeys, I continue to encounter more and more marketers that are leveraging mobile applications in this manner.

Clearly, the great news is that there are lots of solutions and opportunities to improve your email program on mobile devices. The challenge is that consumers are getting pummeled with marketing offers with every click they make. Become an early adopter now and begin leveraging these mobile opportunities so you aren't left behind in this mobile email evolution.

Until next time,


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David Daniels

For more than 20 years, David has been an industry proponent. Direct Magazine said David is "one of the most influential experts in email marketing, if not the most influential." Co-author of "Email Marketing An Hour A Day," David has held senior level positions at Forrester and JupiterResearch, Apple, Anthropologie, MacWarehouse, Proteam, and retailers that dotted the early days of CompuServe. David advises many industry organizations including the OTA, DMA, eec, and has been a contributor to the Weekend Today Show on NBC. Learn more about connected marketing and download free research with registration here. Follow David on Twitter @emaildaniels and learn more at www.relevancygroup.com.

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