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Marketing Watchdog Journal   July 2008, Issue 53

Featured Article
Keeping Up with Readers on the Run
By Jeanniey Mullen, Founder and Executive Chairwoman, Email Experience Council; and EVP and CMO, Zinio

Reality Check: Does Your Email Strategy Need to Be "Mobile-ized"?

If you are reading this on your BlackBerry, iPhone or other handheld device, then I have already made my point. If you are reading this at a computer or on a laptop, then you are among the 40% of us who read emails, for the first time, on a land-based device.

It is true. Your email marketing target reads your email on-the-go these days, and this can mean big changes are needed in your email strategy to keep response rates high.

When many email marketers think about emails being read on handheld devices, they immediately run to their creative team and ask for help building or coding a mobility readable message. But creative worries are secondary to the power that the handheld device has over your response rates.

Consider this simple, but scary statement:

If your readers open their email on a mobile device, it will show as opened or read on their desktop email system.

Whether you decide to design your emails for mobile reading or not, this statement impacts the effectiveness of your basic email strategies. Think about your own email in-box and how simple it is to gloss over an email that appears to have already been read, in lieu of those bolded and high importance flags. Your email could be at risk if it was read on a handheld device and your reader assumed they would get to it later. Unfortunately, if those readers were mobile, they were probably doing something else at the same time; therefore, the chances of them remembering to take action on your email at a later time is less than 10%.

This phenomenon is not the end of the world for your campaign. It is a gift of insight that you should be excited to have. Here are a few ways in which you can use mobile reading insights to help improve your email campaign results:
  1. Include a link at the top of your email that says: Reading this away from your desk? Click to cut to the chase of the message. (This link will enable you to identify in an instant who is reading on-the-go, and who is not. Additionally, this is a great A/B test for short vs. long copy.)

  2. Watch your top 10% of responders click rates. If they click on at least one link in each email you send, but then suddenly drop off, you can assume that instead of being disinterested in content, they are simply unable to read it, or they forgot to do something about it. This is the perfect time to send a stand-alone, text-heavy email to your reader to ask them for feedback about ways to keep them more engaged.

  3. Consider modifying your preference center. Right now, most preference centers still only ask if recipients want html or text. A great test is to add a question that simply asks, "Will you be reading your email on a mobile device?" If so, you can adjust your strategy to ensure your emails will get the most attention given the fact that they are being read in a mobile environment.
Whichever route you choose to take, please try something. A recent study done by The Pew Internet & American Life Project indicated that more than 62% of people read their email on a mobile device. These people do not fall into one specific category of users. They are a racially and economically diverse segment of people whose main commonalities lie more within their love of the Internet than anything else. This means that regardless of your industry, or who your target segment is, you may need to revisit all aspects of your email program to ensure it is primed for reading on the run.

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Jeanniey Mullen is the founder and executive chairwoman of the email experience council, the world's authority on email marketing. She is also EVP and CMO of Zinio, the leading global online publishing and distribution services company.

Marketing Watchdog Journal is a monthly newsletter from Bulldog Solutions, a lead optimization and lead management company dedicated to helping our clients generate more, better leads and turn them into revenue. We welcome your feedback on this newsletter's content and design, and encourage you to share your ideas for topics you would like us to cover in future issues. Please send your comments or questions about Bulldog Solutions to Amy Bills, senior manager of Field Marketing.

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