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What Email Cavemen Can Learn From the Dinosaurs

  |  March 27, 2013   |  Comments

Changing user behaviors can be an opportunity for those smart enough to get up from their desktop computers and walk around before they get extinguished.

The dinosaurs of the late Cretaceous period had no idea what was going to happen to them.

Unlike their modern day equivalents - traditional email marketers - the Cretaceous-Paleogene era dinosaurs had no data or information that would predict their imminent demise. After all, they were at the top of the food chain. They dominated their ecosystem. Abundant plant life bloomed and everything was great.

Until a huge rock from space crashed into the Yucatan Peninsula and exterminated them all. And some volcanoes erupted. It all happened pretty quickly from what we know from the geologic record.

But not every plant and animal on earth died. Many survived, and thrived, in a new world where the rules suddenly changed. It was a game-changer, an opportunity.

And in contrast to the dinosaurs, email marketers can predict where things are going. Email is going mobile. The challenge is that you cannot predict when a user will open on any given device.

This doesn't have to be a catastrophe. Changing user behaviors can be an opportunity for those smart enough to get up from their desktop computers and walk around before they get extinguished. That's where responsive design comes into play. Your email subscribers are on the move. You need to move with them.

The rise of the smartphone is clearly driving a renaissance for email. The signs are abundant. Just last week, Dropbox paid a reported $100 million in cash and stock for Mailbox, an email reader app that couldn't even onboard one million users. You can't run Mailbox on your laptop. It only runs on iOS devices that fit in the palm of your hand. It's an app designed for people who are mobile-centric.

Is that enough signal that things are changing?

According to digital marketing agency Knotice, 41 percent of commercial emails were opened on mobile devices in the second half of 2012.

And according to ExactTarget's 2012 Channel Preference Survey, 90 percent of smartphone owners access the same email account on mobile and desktop.

According to MarketingSherpa's 2013 Email Benchmark report, 58 percent of marketers are not designing for mobile.

Coincidentally in the same poll, 58 percent of the respondents claimed that the pervasiveness of mobile smartphones and tablets "will affect their email program in the next 12 months."

It's too late to be "mobile-first" in email. Email was desktop first. But for too many marketers, it's still "desktop only." Those are the dinosaur email marketers that I am talking about.

Your users are telling you something. They're voting with their thumbs. And all you have to do is look around and you'll see that it's time to get responsive and design for what we can predict: "Smartphones are here to stay."

Dinosaur Chasing a Caveman image on home page via Shutterstock.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dave Hendricks

As president of LiveIntent, Dave Hendricks has overall responsibility for revenue, finance, legal, and operations. Prior to joining LiveIntent before its 2009 Series A, Dave was EVP of operations at PulsePoint (then known as Datran Media), where he worked with LiveIntent founder and CEO Matt Keiser and ran Datran's ESP StormPost. Before all that, Dave held senior roles at data management companies InfoUSA and Experian. A member of the founding executive team at ExperianCheetahMail, Dave began his email adventure at Pioneering ESP MessageMedia after running global partnerships for Oracle Corp. Dave was named one of Silicon Alley Insiders Top 100 technologists in 2011 and is active in several IAB Committees including Mobile and Email. Follow him on Twitter @davehendricks.

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