Email Marketing Is Mobile -- Why Aren't Your Messages?

Sometimes the simplest advice can be the most effective once the recipient had got past the stage where the sage words just seem obvious. This was my first reaction to online email marketing advice I read this weekend, which reminded practitioners that it's a good idea to remember that the majority of emails are now opened on mobile phones, so they should be optimised for that all-important channel with its smaller screen.

Sounds almost too obvious to repeat, doesn't it? But do as I did and pick up your smartphone, and scan through the emails that have clearly arrived there through your inclusion on a brand's CRM database. I did -- and it can be pretty surprising. A lot of brands will at least avoid the pitfall of their email content appearing as tiny text, but one from caught my eye. The text was pretty small and there was a long line or two about it being summer, so why not book a hotel room. It was fairly pointless copy that could have been replaced by something like "Hot Weather, Sizzling Room Rates." OK -- I may not be an expert, but at least that would have been readable compared to a few lines of small, barely legible text. Amex is another brand that, in my opinion, sends long sentences -- which, when on a tiny screen, are pretty hard to read and are clearly just marketing speak. A few images and punchy headlines would make the email far more scannable on the tube.

However, someone like Loch Fyne restaurants is very different. There's a point and they get straight to it, in writing rendered large enough to be readable and interspersed with stunning photography. Within a second you know there's a lunch time special and that you're looking at a snazzy picture of it. My favourite supermarket, Waitrose, is another good example, of a brand that "gets" the small screen gives just a fraction of a second to gain the recipient's attention with a headline, a handful of explanatory words and then a picture of the product.

Ironically, the message that probably held a lot of promise for me in this morning's inbox was a note from Forrester that promised insight on Apple's WWDC conference and some views on beacons. What's not to like? Well, actually, text the size an atom that is spread over the equivalent of two iPhone 6 screens -- that's what. Forrester can probably just about get away with it because their notes are worth zooming in on, but that's an exception to the rule. Give people a page of text that they may have scanned through on desktop and it will usually be ignored on mobile.

So Monday's reminder is to take a look at your email marketing campaigns on a variety of smartphones with different sizes and wonder aloud whether you are instantly hooked. Is there a compelling subject line, is the offer made clear with a heading that is legible and an image that holds attention? If you need to squint, pinch and expand text and read a line or two until you know why the email has been sent, you just might want to remind yourself of a simple fact. The majority of your messages will now be viewed on mobile, so you should make sure campaigns are mobile. If it's not grabbing your attention, if it's not instantly clear what the point of the communication is, it will be a Monday project that is worth repeating with marketing colleagues to ensure that you improve next time.

Take a look at the digital challengers and something will dawn on you. Their communications border on hieroglyphics. Minimal, large text words which rely on pictures to get a message across. It's second nature to them because they have only ever existed in a mobile-first world which so many marketers are now having to adjust to.

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