Mobile Matters for E-mail Consumers on the Go

By the close of 2010, the share of i-devices in the mobile market was for the first time surpassed by the Android operating system. However, according to a new survey by Knotice released in January of this year, almost 9 percent of the 13.4 percent of emails opened on a mobile device were opened on iPhones, with another 2 percent opened on an iPad. Android followed with 1.9 percent, and Windows, Palm, and BlackBerry make up the final 1 percent between them. To be fair to the statistics, I should point out that based on our company’s Q3 APAC Email Benchmark report, the percentage of text marketing emails sent varied between 10 to 18 percent of total volume across the region, so there is a margin for error. That being said, while i-devices are clearly leading the way for mobile email access, ignoring the customer experience on other devices is a surefire way to reduce the effectiveness of your campaigns and ultimate ROI.

The difficulty we face as marketers is that each mobile device provides us with their own unique challenges and opportunities when it comes to creative design and rendering. So how can you deliver maximum impact to the palm of your consumers’ hands without surveying your consumers on the device they carry and developing a different creative for each device? And all this while still trying to deliver a positive customer experience, should they choose to read the email on the desktop too.

Here we share five basic tips for getting your mobile email read and delivery results from day one:

1.    Size is everything. With almost every mobile device offering different dimension screen real estate to display your message on, it can be a real challenge to get your email rendering as you had intended on every device. Unfortunately, unlike Web pages and microsites, it is not yet possible to have an HTML email that automatically resizes for optimal viewing experience across multiple mobile email clients. So the next best thing is to take the lowest common denominator and go for a width of 320 pixels. This will render well on any mobile device and will also be readable for desktop clients too.

2.    Who you are and what you have to say are even more important. Many consumers and business executives use their mobile device as an email purge engine, clearing their inbox the moment they wake up and on the way to and from work. With little room for email previews beyond a line or two of text for mobile, your ‘subject line’ and ‘from address’ are critical when it comes to making your message stand out from the crowd. For best results, keep a consistent and recognisable persona, and if you must change your from address make sure you tell your customers well in advance of any change.

As for the subject line, keep it short and very direct – if you cannot say it in less than 40 characters or less then think of another way to say it!

3.    Get the main message ‘front and left’. Ideally a consumer should just need to open the message and see all there is to make a decision on how they interact with your content or offers – by placing your call to action at the top left of the message and removing the need to scroll you maximise your chances of driving email clicks, site traffic, and customer experience.

4.    Text can always be read. With the growing support for HTML 5 on mobile devices, it is very easy to get carried away and let creativity overtake practicality and the need to drive and track campaign response metrics. Take a step back and look to see how text for key messages such as your call to action can be used in conjunction with HTML – this way if you do run into rendering issues on the mobile device the text can still be relied upon to drive interaction and response rates. It is worth remembering that while BlackBerry devices appear to be losing ground, their default-to-text function for email may actually be masking the true coverage they appear to bring in the Knotice research. While you would lose the ability to track email opens, experiment with some well-designed text only emails and see how this drives site traffic and responses – you may be pleasantly surprised.

5.    Get it coded correctly.If you are going down the HTML route, make sure your layout is in a single column with a width that is not hardcoded, remembering tip number one above and keeping any images to fewer than 320 pixels. As with any email creative, resist the urge to include Flash and scripting, because while the theoretical benefits they bring may seem worth it, they are invariably stripped out leaving you with an email that not only looks badly designed but also completely loses its ability to drive results. If your campaign does have heavy creative elements consider linking to a microsite.

The mobile messaging and email landscape is evolving daily, and as with any direct marketing channel testing your creative strategy can make the difference between success and failure. Test as many variables as time and money will permit – and if you have plenty of both and are looking at true ROI, it is well worth investing in multivariate testing, and taking your optimisation to the next level through analytics and modeling. This will allow you to not only test the basics such as the subject line and call-to-action drivers, but also multiple elements of your creative formatting and design helping you understand how together in various combinations they drive your campaign performance.

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