As social media and content marketing have become the digital marketing buzzwords, email marketing has fallen out of fashion. As long ago as 2009 the Wall Street Journal was predicting the death of the email but this has proven not only premature but also way off target.
Inbound marketing is increasingly important and most successful campaigns will use a variety of channels and approaches. But email remains a cornerstone of digital marketing. According to research from the Radicati Group there were 3.3 billion email accounts in the world in 2012 and 77% of consumers listed email as their preferred medium for receiving permission-based marketing communications. This eclipses other channels such as social media (6%) and text messages (5%).
On any given day, your customer might visit your website, blog or social media profiles but most will check their emails at least once a day. Many smartphone users will monitor their messages as and when they arrive. At the end of last year it was reported that the majority of emails were opened on mobile for the first time. Email marketing and mobile seem like a natural combination, but one size doesn’t always fit all when you’re switching to the small screen. Many companies are coming round to the idea that they need to optimize websites for mobile. An effective email marketing campaign should also take differences in mobile usage and display into account.
Avoid the spam folder
Around 80% of consumers delete messages or report them as spam without even opening them, based on the sender and subject line alone. Be clear and upfront about who the email is from and what it is about.
Trevor Hughes, executive director of the Email Sender and Provider Coalition said: “Consumers are tyrannical; they are brutal editors of their inbox. If your from and subject line is not showing who you are and the message is legit, you will never even be previewed.”
The headline needs to grab the attention without being overly hyperbolic, which can be a tricky balancing act. Some marketers advise keeping all email subject lines to a brief 30 to 50 characters in length but, for desktop at least, this isn’t always the best choice. According to a study by UK-based email marketing agency Alchemy Worx, shorter subject lines generate higher open rates but much lower click rates, suggesting that customers are scanning these emails but failing to fully engage with them. On mobile however, the problems of subject lines being trimmed to fit the display mean you’re usually better off sticking to a shorter headline.
Keep it brief
Mobile users tend not to want to scroll through masses of text to get to the point of an email. Marketing emails tailored for mobile should be trimmed of all fat. Like the subject line, your copy needs to grab and hold the attention almost instantly. Keep your messages brief and relevant and make sure your calls to action are obvious and prominently placed. Don’t forget that a finger is generally much less precise than a mouse pointer, so use large clickable buttons rather than text hyperlink or tiny hotspots.
Your email content should also be fully optimized for mobile. Fonts should be easy to read but not so large that they further limit the amount of content you can fit into the email. You should also consider the use of any images and media. If your email doesn’t load instantly it’s far more likely to be binned and many consumers will not appreciate their data usage being gobbled up by auto-playing video and sound files. You want the email to look good but it’s usually best to avoid over-large images and other media files. You’re also usually looking for people to click through from your email to your website so ensure that your landing page is also mobile-friendly.
Test your emails to ensure they display correctly on a range of different devices and consider responsive design principles that will see the email adapt to the screen and device it is currently being viewed on.
Time your delivery
Time your mailshots to arrive at the most appropriate time. Depending on your demographic this could be early morning or early evening. It’s usually best to avoid office hours however, as many users will have a lot of information and stimuli competing for their time. Late at night is another obvious time to avoid, as many mobiles will be off or at least switched to silent. If you have an international audience or a national one that spans different time zones, don’t forget to take this into account.
There’s a lot to consider when optimizing email campaigns for mobile subscribers but, with email remaining the communication channel of choice and the importance of mobile continuing to grow, combining the two properly can be more than worth the effort.