When technology travels, big changes follow in its path. Sony’s introduction of the portable radio fundamentally altered how people interacted with the information it conveyed -- and even changed what the information was and how it was presented. Radio evolved into a “now” medium and began to focus on real-time surveillance, becoming more localized. It can be argued that radio’s portability helped extend the relevance and thus the life of the entire medium.
Mobility changes how people interact with technology
My point is that mobility profoundly changes how people interact with technology -- and so the information conveyed by such technology must evolve, too.
For years we accessed information via computers much the same way we consumed it via the old tube radios, which took up huge amounts of space and required us to make the time and effort to go to them. Thanks to smartphones and tablets, email marketers now find themselves at the same crossroads radio was at decades ago. Marketers must now adapt their methods and messages to stay relevant, or be left behind by the mobile consumer.
The smartphone revolution
A recent post/report from eMarketer backs this up by concluding that smartphone users consider themselves connected and empowered through their “unfettered access to real-time information.” eMarketer estimates that nearly 116 million Americans will use a smartphone at least monthly by the end of this year.
Just last week, fellow Email insider George Bilbrey wrote about a Return Path report predicting that mobile open rates could surpass those of desktop and Web clients as early as the end of this summer! He also reminded us that the smartphone brings many more variables to the question of time of send.
Now the inbox really is a moving target
Marketers were once able to draw a pretty good picture of how people were interacting with their email marketing because they knew most of us were sitting in front of a laptop or desktop reading it. However, now the inbox is moving with the subscriber and what you say depends even more on when you say it and where your subscriber is when they read it.
Time and day of send now depends much more on what your message is and what audience you are trying to reach. With smartphones, email marketers must be prepared to live in the moment. It’s not just about what time, but also about what one has done is doing or about to do that influences how effective your message will be. Heck, even the weather could be a factor!
The persona calendar
We’re all used to leveraging an editorial calendar, but with the smartphone revolution, marketers will also have to think about a persona calendar, where subscribers are defined and marketed to based on not just high level demographic data, but more defined information on what a subscriber may be doing at a given time on a given day. This will likely lead to more concise emails sent more often because the information is more time sensitive -- and of course, that kind of format suits current smartphones better.
The power of segmentation
ESPs often lament about how few marketers use segmentation. Now with smartphones and the changes they bring, segmenting your list based on subscriber personas will probably be even more critical. Smartphones will reveal the true potential and power of segmenting.
A smartphone is not smart in and of itself. A smartphone is smart because of the smart way people employ them. As they become more and more popular, we will continue to be amazed and inspired by how people employ them to enrich their lives. Opportunities will abound for those marketers who realize that it’s not so much about smartphones, but about smart users.