There was a time when mail arrived at your front door. And if you moved, it could sometimes have a hard time following you. That could not be further from the truth today, however.
Now your mailbox follows you wherever you are, from your bedroom at home via your desk at work to the farthest corners of the planet. How? Because you carry it around with you on your smartphone, of course.
According to Pew’s Internet Report, at the beginning of 2012 96% of Americans had a mobile phone and 44% had a smartphone, while 29% were toting a tablet or eReader.
The figures are not much different in other developed countries, including the UK. Litmus, an email analytics firm, says the number of emails opened on a mobile device was growing 132% a year in the period from 2011 to 2012.
This meant more email was being read on mobile devices than on traditional desktop clients or on webmail.
Specifically, the research found 36% of email was read on mobiles, 33% on desktops and 31% on webmail clients that can be accessed from any device. This shift in emphasis to mobile is highly significant to marketers.
Just as mobile devices are changing purchasing behaviour, for example by allowing customers to carry out in-store price comparisons on the fly, so they are altering the way we respond to email. Think of the way you deal with email yourself.
In the past, you probably dedicated some time at the beginning of the day to going through your inbox, and then maybe dealt with incoming mails according to priority thereafter. That was when your inbox was located at work.
Now your inbox goes with you everywhere, what do you do? Chances are your response is more a matter of situation and opportunity.
Rather than dealing with emails in a single sitting, you will probably handle email communications piecemeal, making best use of idle moments such as when you are waiting for a bus.
What does this mean for email marketing? First and foremost, you have to make sure your messages can be read properly on a mobile. Can you say what percentage of your audience is picking up your newsletter on a smartphone?
You should know this. Yet according to a 2012 eConsultancy report 48% of marketers do not. Which probably means they are making little allowance for an increasingly dominant communications channel.
If even a small fraction of your customers are receiving your emails on smartphones then you need to cater for them by using responsive HTML messages that will render correctly, irrespective of their user device.
You also need to think carefully about your content. If your typical reader is going through their emails while in the back of a cab, they may not have time for lengthy monologues. So keep your messages short and to the point.
Consider your tone, too. A smartphone is a much more personal device than a desktop PC in the office, so with email mail shots to mobiles it is probably safe to say you can let your hair down a bit, be more conversational… but not too much.
Finally, do not forget that mobile communication is opening up a new world of services and applications that could help boost your brand.
Ask yourself if you could up your company’s appeal with a funky mobile application, for example, or a handy location-based service. And above all, make sure you seek advice from a mobile marketing expert.
The opportunities from mobile email marketing are practically limitless, but capturing them is easier with specialist help because the mobile email audience is, quite literally, a moving target.