Building a Successful Mobile Email Campaign

This essay is adapted from 14 Essential Mobile Marketing Tactics, by Igor Faletski and James Sherrett, © 2012 Mobify Research and Development.

Today, there are three times as many smartphones activated every minute as there are human births. In 2011, there were 6.6 billion mobile connections made and 3.6 billion mobile subscribers globally.

Mobile web adoption is happening eight times faster today than Web adoption in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

A dramatic increase in mobile email is indicative of a seismic shift in Web behavior. Internet marketing research company comScore found that while Web-based email declined significantly throughout 2010, mobile email use surged 36 percent from the prior year and grew across all age groups.

People love to check their email on the go. As consumers are increasingly browsing, shopping, and interacting with brands wherever the chance strikes them, mobile commerce presents the most powerful and intimate opportunity for companies to connect with their customers.

Mobile consumers typically represent a desirable demographic for retailers and brands. They have the latest technology, a pricey data plan, and are more likely to spend a lot of money. Electronics retailer Best Buy found that mobile shoppers increased their lifetime value by 15 percent directly on mobile and 25 percent for in-store purchases.

However, any new opportunity brings its own set of challenges. Mobile users have specific needs and biases that you have to consider in your email marketing.

Tiny text, graphics that won't load, convoluted layouts that require mobile users to scroll left, down, up, and right—any of these can quickly derail your attempt to reach mobile users.

Here are three ways you can improve the success of your email campaigns in an increasingly mobile world:

1. Subject and sender name matter more. Too often, marketing teams labor over each word in the body of the email, only to leave the subject and sender fields as afterthoughts. Each element of the email is a small conversion opportunity!

Desktop and Web-based email may treat the three elements of an email message (body, sender, subject) with equal weight, but the same is not so in the mobile world. iPhones show the sender name most prominently, while most Android devices focus on the subject. In both cases, there is little to no preview pane to see the message body.

Consequently, you've got to use a consistent and recognizable name or brand in the From field. And use your subject line as effectively as possible. Keeping your subject under 30 characters (including spaces) is best. Phrase your subject as a promise of what can be found when the recipient opens the email.

2. Simple beats pretty. As marketers, we want to make things pretty. And in email marketing, that usually means HTML email. But this practice will fall flat in many situations on mobile devices.

With limits and caps on mobile data plans, many users choose not to download images as a default setting or as a selection in each email. Graphics often can fail to load, leaving recipients with an incomplete message or a hole in their email message.

Furthermore, graphics at the top of an email push the message out of sight, making it tough for people to get the point of your message, providing they can see your graphic in the first place. Standards are evolving in mobile email software, but have not settled yet in any comfortable, normalized way.

So consider sending simply styled emails consisting mostly of text to ensure you get your message across. Remember that something always beats nothing.

In particular, consider simply styled emails for system messages, such as account activations, password-retrieval emails, alerts, or anything else that you need to be sure gets into people's hands.

3. Be brief. Short wins.

On mobile devices, displays are small. Each line is precious real estate. Get your message to your customer as quickly in the email as possible, even if it means forgoing fancy header graphics.

The same goes for sentences and paragraphs.

Keep them short, crisp, and active. The job of nearly every sentence in your email is to get the recipient to read the following sentence.

Get out of their way with all your words. Move your customers from sentence to sentence and you'll have a conversion faster.

To read more on best practices for mobile email, search, and social media campaigns and tactics, go to the full, registration-free eBook, available at http://www.mobify.com/go/mobile-marketing-ebook.

Igor Faletski is the CEO and cofounder and James Sherrett is the vice president of marketing at Mobify (www.mobify.com),a Web platform that optimizes e-commerce and publishing sites for mobile, and powers more than 20,000 sites.

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