Email is an integral and important channel to most every marketer's communication mix. It's an effective, relevant, and timely way to message to customers far and wide - and since its mass marketing application took off 15-ish years ago, not too much has changed. Some of the lack of innovation here is due to the limitations put on the capabilities of the email itself by the inbox provider, and some of it is a lack of motivation by the marketer to change it. After all, if it ain't broke…
This lack of motivation is about to change - or is changing, or has changed - for marketers everywhere because of the…yep, you guessed it…mobile revolution. With the mass adoption of smartphones and tablets, the way subscribers are engaging with email communications is very different than it was just a few years ago. And marketers are having to accommodate it - not only from a rendering and engagement standpoint, but also the relevance of the messaging. Many marketers are either employing or exploring the idea of responsive template design - this approach will detect the device type/operating system and adjust its rendering accordingly. But in order to capitalize on the power of the mobile device, it has to go beyond that.
Here are three things to consider for upping the game around your mobile email strategy.
Consider the Geographical Component
It's a little like a game of "Where's Waldo?" email-style. Leveraging technologies like Moveable Ink, you can actually vary your messaging based on the location of the recipient at the time the message is opened. And since we are talking about mobility, let's face it - I can open your marketing email while I'm sitting at the airport in Chicago and again when I land in San Francisco. Wouldn't it make the messaging more relevant if you were able to recognize that?
Clearly that's a big undertaking from a content standpoint if you wanted to wrap content around each of the 50 states - but what if you regionalized the messaging, or used weather as a dictator of imagery, content, or offering? These are all things that are possible today because of mobile technologies - talk about getting relevant!
Alter the Content
Just because content is immediately actionable and sensible on a desktop or laptop doesn't mean it's true on a mobile device. Consider altering the content you serve when a mobile device is detected. You could encourage download of your app (if you have one…and the recipient does not), you could minimize the content to display information that would resonate quickly on a mobile and save you from the dreaded "delete" as part of the triaging effort, or you could even simplify the conversion process/call-to-action to drive higher engagement from readers on-the-run. The point here is that when optimizing your content for mobile rendering, it doesn't mean you have to serve up the exact same content in both places. Think it through.
Analyze the Behavior
As email marketers, we are innately curious about how recipients engage with our email communications; understanding how and when your recipients are viewing and engaging with content on mobile devices can provide a lot of insight into messaging strategies and areas of focus as you move your programs forward. For example, do you have a large audience of recipients who view email on a mobile and delete it? Do they view it on a mobile and later render it on a desktop as well? Do they only click through from the desktop but read and render on a mobile? What can you learn about the email engagement behavior of your subscribers by diving down a level deeper into the repetition in the engagement? It isn't just about open and clicks anymore. You need to focus on the "how" and "when" of the behavior as well.
There are a number of tactics and approaches that one can take to make an email program mobile - but don't stop with the "simple" stuff. Being able to leverage the power of mobile to drive your email programs is the most interesting thing that has happened to email since video…oh wait…nope, not there yet.
On the Road image on home page via Shutterstock.
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A 12-year email marketing veteran, Kara has been actively involved in programmatic email development, execution, and strategy in a variety of senior positions on the client, agency, and provider side. Most recently, Kara was founder and principal of The Email Advisor, a respected email marketing consultancy focusing on email strategy and channel optimization. Prior to launching The Email Advisor, Kara led strategic services for the email division of Premiere Global Services, where she worked with global organizations structuring a variety of custom email education programs, conceptualizing and implementing new and innovative email programs, optimizing contact strategies, and developing staffing and budget plans.
March 19, 2014