Falling prices have made smartphones extremely common. According to the Pew Research Center, 46 percent of U.S. adults owned a smartphone as of February 2012. With those kinds of numbers, widespread smartphone and tablet adoption is undeniable. Unsurprisingly, smartphone ownership remains more common among young adults and those with high income and higher education. However, smartphone adoption does not have a gender bias, which is unusual for technology adoption. The smartphone adoption has been primarily on Android and Apple iOS devices, with 80 percent of the audience using those operating systems.
What are people actually doing with their mobile phones? Text messaging and taking pictures are still the most common uses. However, sending and receiving email is also being done commonly. And when people do engage with email on mobile, they engage at a much higher rate than people who engage with email on desktop.
What does this mean if you’re trying to reach people via email? First, people are on the run. Consumers don’t read emails the same way on phones as they do on desktops. Understanding these differences will inform your design. For example, mobile email users don’t scan email, they prioritize it. They categorize their email into “read now,” “read later,” or “delete.”
How do you make the cut to help ensure that your emails are read now or at least saved for later? First, start with the subject line and concentrate on the first 20 characters: keep it short and keep it recognizable. That means getting the offer in first and being mindful of the sender name. Secondly, make sure that your key information is visible above the fold (duh) and make the call to action clear and conspicuous.
Now, given that many of you are likely working with limited resources, here are some tools and tricks for understanding your eligible audience and optimizing your email template. Several engagement tools in the marketplace, including Pivotal Veracity Mailbox IQ, allow for the marketer to get row-level detail on the email rendering device. Knowing the size of your mobile audience will help you justify the budget to optimize your template for this on-the-go audience. Getting the template right should be left to the professionals; people who have learned from months of trial and error. If possible, you should consider outsourcing your first few templates and let somebody teach you the ropes.
Your current email template may be great for customers using Gmail, Yahoo, or Outlook, but you’re going to significantly reduce the potential of the impact of your campaigns by serving up the same template on a three-inch screen. If you’re going to ask them to pay attention to your message, you should make it easy for them to read, interact, and respond to it.
Creating the right email experience based on the rendering device has always been a priority for the email marketer. Focusing a larger proportion of effort on the smartphone experience is money well spent. And there is no excuse for not getting started – smartphone adoption is only going to increase.
Tal is off today. This column was originally published on March 20, 2012 on ClickZ.