If you haven't yet reviewed every aspect of your email marketing program on a small screen, you're falling back in the competition pack. Here are two reasons why optimizing for mobile should be your top priority this year:
From Static to Responsive Email Design
About 40 percent of emails now get opened on mobile devices. The "one size fits all" approach to email design is no longer good enough.
Adopting responsive email design is the first step in ensuring that your email program is effective in 2013. It makes mobile-viewed email easy to engage with and effective at driving conversion.
Most emails designed for the desktop computer tend to be more than 600 pixels wide. Viewed on a smartphone, they scale down to at least half of their original size, making image details and text hard to see and often breaking links.
The solution, in many cases, is responsive design. It allows the sender to simplify the message and make it easier to see on different screen sizes.
Responsive emails can highlight essential information in the mobile version of a message and hide elements that mobile readers don't need in order to understand your message or act on it.
It can take elements from a standard two-column design and stack them on top of each other for vertical rather than horizontal scrolling on a mobile device.
Also, the coding used in responsive design can resize and recolor text, change the background image, change the background color, and even change the message formatting.
Apps: The New Email Landing Page
Email marketers learned early on that a good landing page is as necessary to drive conversion as the email creative. It's not enough to drop your subscribers onto your home page and then expect them to fend for themselves.
The landing page must reinforce your email offer and direct visitors to follow your call-to-action to conversion.
Now, seemingly every brand and retailer is building an app for iOS and Android. Apple's App Store now has more than 650,000 apps, and the Google Play Store has more than 600,000 apps. But, according to GigaOM, about 25 percent of downloaded apps get opened only once.
As mobile email opens keep rising, the conversion experience happens more often, either on a mobile site or in an app. This makes your app the new email marketing landing page.
Consider developing links that will launch your app with the appropriate content.
Using custom URL schemes. In Apple iOS, a custom URL scheme can drive the subscriber to your app. Your developers can set this scheme as they build your app in the same project file they set a custom icon. With Android, the custom URL schema is set in your AndroidManifest.xml, using the element.
The next step: include your custom URLs in your email creative, as appropriate, to direct the subscriber to a certain app screen or pass relevant < data> to the app. Here are a few examples:
Mobile App Push Notifications
Push notifications are leading the next wave of mobile marketing. These messages are delivered to subscribers who have given permission to receive them when they downloaded your app.
Notifications can be inexpensive to send and are an excellent alternative to SMS, because subscribers can receive them even if they aren't in your app when you hit "send."
The technology can be a powerful customer engagement tool. Push notifications are, by default, targeted to individuals who at some point found value in your brand and downloaded and installed your app.
When done right, these messages have high engagement rates. But, if you abuse the service, you will encourage users to delete your app.
Push notifications can help marketers build an ongoing dialogue with consumers, especially when orchestrated with email, social, and display advertising.
"One size fits all" push messages aren't effective, however. Remember your email marketing history here: applications with the highest frequency of irrelevant push notifications are the first applications that users uninstall.
Every push notification should be relevant, data-driven, and triggered based on specific customer information and behavior. Use what you have learned about your customers to tailor messages and boost relevance: what they have purchased, downloaded, or shared, and where they're located.
Ask yourself, "What's in it for my subscriber?" before you send a push notification. If you don't have a good answer, rethink your approach.
The Last Word
Email marketing is transitioning from a desktop focus to a more inclusive view that has a strong mobile component. The boom in mobile engagement - opens, viewing, and converting - brings new and compelling ways to interact with audiences and build business.
It also brings new challenges. Taking time and making efforts now to think about the mobile email experience from apps to push notifications and get your mobile optimization strategy in place will help you remain nimble and continue to grow your digital marketing program.
Mobile Email image on home page via Shutterstock.
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Mike Hotz is a senior strategic consultant for Responsys, working with clients to design, develop, and execute cross-channel digital marketing strategies that contribute to their cross-channel digital marketing success. As an industry veteran, Mike has worked in e-mail marketing since 1998, designing, building, and executing e-mail and multichannel direct marketing strategies focusing on increasing customer engagement, nurturing leads, supporting sales organizations, and driving revenue for companies such as CDW, OfficeMax, Grant Thornton, and Digitalwork.com.
March 19, 2014