Goodbye, Inbox. Hello, Smartphone

Last time, I discussed e-mail as a key driver in the Web 2.0 world. I’ve received a number of messages around this topic, much of it supporting the idea. I’m also seeing this topic coming up in blogs and other media outlets. My friend and colleague Loren McDonald has been running with the topic quite a bit. I look forward to keeping the thoughts and ideas moving forward.

Trends and usage that prove e-mail is part of Web 2.0 can be seen all over. This past week there was a phenomenal article about an AOL study that asked how addicted readers are to their e-mail. A favorite statistic is: “According to the survey, the average email user checks mail about five times a day, and 59% of those with portable devices are using them to check email every time a new message arrives.”

I sent the article to a few people, and the best comment I received was from a colleague in London. He said, “So I’m sitting with friends, and my BlackBerry goes off. What do I do? I run to the other room to read the message that is telling me I’m an addict.”

When you think about it, e-mail’s future is clearly stable. E-mail isn’t going away. But the way we use it is changing. My prediction is that within three years, over 80 percent of e-mail won’t be read on a computer but on a handheld device. Heck, we may even be able to see them inside our sunglasses.

The question is, what are you doing today to help prepare for e-mail tomorrow? Four things for you to think about now:

  • Change your preference center. The days of asking, “Do you want HTML or text?” are over. Now we should ask, “May we have your mobile number?” and “Would you like to receive our RSS feed?”

  • Create text versions of your message. Most companies create a text version, and some do it automatically. But are you using line breaks, asterisks, and other characters to help make the text version stand out? You should be.
  • Find out how links render on handheld devices. Some handheld devices don’t support hotlinks; the entire URL must be written out. Make sure you know how to facilitate action.
  • Shorten copy. I’m sure I’ll have a big fight with lots of you reading this out there, but the shorter the copy, the better the response. If I receive a message on my BlackBerry and it looks complete without needing to scroll, I don’t scroll. Neither will your readers. So keep it short!

Learning how to leverage and plan for these changes now will help you have a much more effective program and customer experience in the future. It won’t be long before you’ll need to activate these changes. Autumn is a great time to begin planning for a fantastic 2008.

Want more e-mail marketing information? ClickZ E-Mail Reference is an archive of all our e-mail columns, organized by topic.

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