The Future of Email Marketing
a brand. Including a map of a nearby location, providing directions, or even creating unique "check in"-based offers are all promising approaches that "make the most of the geographic information that's readily available, without appearing invasive from a privacy standpoint," he says. Brands that offer products and content that depend on variable factors, such as weather, can also include widgets with pertinent updates, though this isn't necessarily something that every brand should employ, Lustberg warns. "There's a fine line between personalization and overkill," he says.
Lustberg also cautions brands against assuming that the mobile email experience is uniform across all devices. "Insert device-specific content into emails depending on the subscriber's particular device or operating system," he recommends, "and be sure to optimize all images." Automatically split-testing images to determine which performs best and drives the strongest response is a must-do, he says.
Harvey Norman, a Lyris customer, is a retailer in the Asia Pacific region, selling large electrical goods, small appliances, computers, and furniture online and in its stores. Founded in 1982, the company now operates more than 180 stores across Australia alone, along with stores in New Zealand, Slovenia, Croatia, Ireland, Singapore, and Malaysia. Though Harvey Norman aimed to consistently deliver robust messages to its customers, the growing number of its email subscribers called for an update to its email approach that would provide better personalization and richer content. For that, the company turned to Lyris.
Lyris tailored Harvey Norman's emails with live content that adapts in real time to customers' location, their time of open, and certain behaviors. If a customer signed up to receive Harvey Norman's emails, for example, the behavior would trigger an initial email, welcoming the customer and offering an exclusive voucher code that was only valid for 48 hours. Some emails also made use of targeting technology to provide Google Maps directions to a store closest to the subscriber's location.
"What's unique about our tools is that the content is personalized based on when a customer opens the email, not when the email is sent," Lustberg explains. "This creates an additional, deeper layer of personalization." Since partnering with Lyris, Harvey Norman has significantly grown its email database. Following the implementation of live content into its emails, Harvey Norman email open rates jumped to three times the industry average.
The rise of responsive design
Delivering dynamic emails is only half of the solution to the challenge of tailoring email marketing to a mobile device, Ted Stites, vice president of strategy and insights at Siteworx, an experience design and Web content management provider, asserts.
"Just because content works on a mobile device doesn't mean that it's doing its job. If a customer clicks on a link in an email but is then taken to a horrible site [she] can't use, then you might as well not have sent the email," Stites says.
"As mobile consumption of emails continues to grow, email marketers need to stop thinking about how to make content designed for the Web fit into a mobile equation and think instead about how to deliver different experiences at different touch points," he adds.
Enter responsive design. The concept of responsive design--the practice of creating digital experiences that adapt to seamlessly deliver content suited to the user's device, operating system, screen size, or orientation--has been around for quite some time. The recent growth of mobile adoption, however, is breathing new life into the approach.
Siteworx creates responsive Web sites using flexible grid systems, with fluid images and CSS3 media queries. On a responsive site, content expands and contracts as necessary to provide an optimal experience at each display size, Stites explains. This enables site architects to design at multiple "break points" to accommodate many different devices at once.
According to Siteworx's philosophy, the key to the success of any responsive site is taking a mobile-first approach to content, since it "forces designers to optimize the most frustrating viewing experiences--a small screen and a slow connection," Stites says. It also enables designers to zero in on what matters most to users, and improves speed by eliminating unnecessary content and images, which can impact the user experience as well as search engine performance.
McGladrey, a U.S. provider of assurance, tax, and consulting services to the middle market in more than 75 cities, has long been delivering content to users, but the company's Web site was lacking in content accessibility, user friendliness, and aesthetic appeal. Looking for a drastic Web site overhaul, the company began working with Siteworx.
"The outdated design made the content feel less relevant, and the silos made it hard for users to access resources," Stites explains. "On a mobile device, using the site was almost impossible." To combat the problems plaguing McGladrey's Web site, Siteworx shifted the focus to visual presentation and created intuitive pathways to content by implementing responsive design.
Because mobile devices are smaller than desktop computers, visual elements play a key role. Big, bold images and concise headlines make content more appealing, for example. "While text-heavy Web sites are an eyesore, text-heavy mobile sites are illegible," Stites says. Siteworx made McGladrey's images and headlines bigger, and eliminated unnecessary text on the homepage and other landing pages. Siteworx also used media queries—a CSS3 coding tool that allows content rendering to adapt to conditions such as screen resolution and sizes--to customize how McGladrey's content would appear on different devices.
Mobile users enjoy accessing content on the go, Stites points out, and want to get to the pages they need as quickly and painlessly as possible. To that end, Siteworx worked to create intuitive pathways to content that included "more robust global navigation to get users to content in fewer clicks," according to Stites. The new design also offers better opportunities to promote related content more easily, he adds.
Using Adobe Marketing Cloud to measure return on investment, McGladrey quickly noticed encouraging results. In just a month, mobile traffic increased by 7 percent, accounting for 13 percent of McGladrey's overall traffic.
Revitalizing Email Marketing
Though mobile technology presents a great deal of opportunity to email marketers, embracing its growth does not have to entail neglecting traditional email marketing strategies. It does, however, signify the need to adapt to changes more effectively. While the new engagement requirements put in place by Google present a major challenge to email marketers, small efforts can make a significant difference. Re-engagement initiatives, for example, can effectively revamp a brand's struggling email campaign.
Kristina Huffman, senior design consultant on the campaign solutions team at ExactTarget, a Salesforce.com company, recommends taking one of several re-engagement routes: the educational message, the subscription reminder, the guilt trip, the
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