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July 1, 2013
The Mobile Inbox Rules
A surefire way to tank your email marketing program is to ignore the segment of your audience who reads your emails on their mobile devices. It’d be foolish to think that only a small sliver of your readers is away from a desktop.

A Pew Internet study earlier this year found that 83% of U.S. adults own a mobile phone and 45% of adults own a smartphone. Another study this year by Adobe revealed that smartphone owners (of all ages) are more likely to use their devices for email than for making phone calls. In fact, email is the most popular activity for tablet and smartphone users, with 79% of smartphone owners using their device for email. Other studies have shown that some smartphone users use their device or a tablet as their sole device for checking email. Who needs a desktop when they can quickly triage their inbox on their iPhone while killing time before a meeting or appointment?

Before I go on for too long with statistics to belabor my point, I want to mention that marketers who have a mobile email strategy in place are in the minority. Now is as good a time as ever to make your messages stand out from those of your competitors by being the one who sends a message that can be read and acted upon.

What can you do that’s different? (i.e. what’s the low-hanging fruit, the basic stuff no one’s doing now but will set you apart until everyone else catches up.)

Mobile-friendly email design: What looks lovely on a 1900 x 1220 desktop monitor may not necessarily look great on an iPhone’s 640 x 1136 screen. As always, you’re playing in the Short Attention Span Theater when it comes to reader inboxes, but it’s even more critical to make reading an email an effortless experience on a mobile device. A MediaPost study found that reading emails (67% personal, 38% work) outpaces actually writing emails (56% personal, 32% work). Forget micro-type and excessive copy — if someone can’t read your message on their mobile device, it’s highly unlikely that it will be saved for a second glace when they’re back at their desk. Also, remember that the mouse is now the thumb, so “Click here” becomes “Touch here.” Deciding on a responsive design or a mobile version of your design is going to be unique to your business.

Mobile-friendly experience: It’s not just reading the email that’s important, it’s being able to act upon it. You do want to sell stuff, right? That’ll be tough if the landing page isn’t also mobile friendly. Keep in mind how every stage of the process will look to your mobile readers.

And one other option that applies to ALL emails: establish a good relationship with your audience. Since recipients are so often making an “open or delete” decision on their mobile device based upon the sender name and/or subject line, it’s still important to put thought into those components. It’s still Email 101 here: use a recognizable sender name (make it the same one each time) and use a subject line that is valuable to your readers.

The mobile inbox is where it’s at these days — forget this and you’re on the road to a tanking email program.

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Sandi Solow has over 15 years of professional experience in marketing, web content development, and media relations. Before focusing on email, Solow worked in marketing for a Big Four consulting firm and as a web content producer for CNN.com and CNNSI.com. She is a past member of the Board of Directors for the Atlanta Interactive Marketing Association (AiMA). Check out her blog at isendyouremail.com/blog. Connect on linkedin.com/in/sandisolow and Twitter @sandisolow.
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