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It doesn’t seem like all that long ago the notion of having a primarily mobile audience was unheard of. When it came to optimizing messages, it was all about maximizing the vast real estate found on the traditional desktop screen. Oh, how things have changed in just a few short years. Today, over 65 percent of all emails are viewed on mobile platforms first, according to J. O’Dell of Venture Beat. While there’s still a part of your contact list that feels more comfortable reading messages solely on a desktop, it’s a safe bet to say that the mobile portion of this list makes up the overwhelming majority. With this in mind, there’s no better time than now to hand out a few tips regarding mobile optimization. This way, the next time someone opens up one of your messages on the go, you’ll have all the tools you need to blow them away with great email content.

A Simple Message Says a Lot

Before doing anything else, the best thing you can do to maximize the potency of your mobile messages is to keep things simple. As Steve Dille of Marketing Land explains in his piece on optimizing mobile emails, certain smartphone apps, like Gmail and Outlook, have a tough time rendering complex layouts and designs. While it might not be the flashiest trick in your bag, going with a more conservative, text-based approach is your best bet to reach these customers. If you stick to your guns and keep sending out image heavy messages, don’t be too surprised when you see contact list numbers take a tumble in response to these jumbled and messy templates.

Size Matters for CTAs

Dille goes on to note that plenty of marketers think in terms of mouse pointers and not thumbs when it comes to setting up calls to action (CTA) in marketed emails. When viewed under the contemporary approach to optimizing content, this makes sense. However, in the mobile world, having a small CTA button is an easy way to kiss conversions goodbye. Think of it this way, how much patience do you have to fumble and fight with a button that’s hard to press, especially when misclicks could create even more problems in the form of opened links and scrolling pages? If you’re being honest with yourself, the answer is probably somewhere between little and none.

To overcome this issue, don’t be afraid to give a little extra real estate on the screen to the CTA. Even if it seems like this button stands out a little too much, the customers trying to click it and act on your offer will definitely be happy you took the time to put a premium on thumbs and not mouse pointers.

Don’t Forget to Make Links Mobile

Another issue that trips up plenty of marketers and brands comes with using links properly in marketed messages. The big problem here isn’t having links in your message – these additions definitely have a spot in many emails – but rather what type of links you use. According to Charles Gaudet of Forbes Magazine, the simple error of not directing users to your mobile site can ruin the impact of your marketed message. Much like clicking on a small CTA button, there are few things more frustrating than trying to view a desktop-enabled page on a small mobile screen. With this in mind, take a few minutes to double check your links before firing off your next email. It might seem like overkill initially, but you’ll be kicking yourself if you find out that potential customers ended up skipping your message because they didn’t feel like fighting with a regular page on their smartphone browsers.

Click-to-call Speeds Things Up

Of course, if you’re really in the business of making the conversion process a breeze for potential customers, then it’s probably time to consider adding in a click-to-call button on your marketed messages. As Jenny DeGraff of the Content Marketing Institute explains in her post regarding mobile optimization, the idea of talking with a trained professional is far more appealing that scrolling and clicking through digital sign-up and payment forms for many customers.

Naturally, for this method to really take off, you’ll need to have a sales team dedicated to handling the needs of mobile users. However, switching over the professionals you already have in place to take on this new approach really shouldn’t take too much training. From here, if you can round out the process with the rest of what you’ve learned about making the most of the continued emphasis on mobile devices, there’s little that can stand between your brand and a bright email marketing future that connects with users who are always on the go.

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If you’re sitting at the train station, do you let the express train go by to wait to see if the local gets there first?

That seems to be the approximation of marketers’ attitudes about mobile marketing.

In an article at Forbes.com, a BDO Survey revealed that 25% fewer CMOs will be using mobile marketing during the holiday season this year.

The Other Side of the Tablet

Yet, there are numerous other surveys that dispute this strategy – or lack thereof.

In the same Forbes article, Emarketer estimated there would be a 15% increase in mobile shopping during this holiday season.

The Forbes story also mentioned a USA Today article about the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark survey that showed the official beginning of the shopping period, Thanksgiving weekend, set records for mobile shopping and traffic, accounting for 40% of online traffic on Black Friday, and nearly a third on Cyber Monday. Just three years ago, the figure was 4% on Cyber Monday.

Reassessment of the Mobile Marketing Message

Despite these surveys, others show that while consumers are more favorable to mobile marketing, it is the message that’s the problem. The same Forbes article above noted Responsys’ survey results showing that while 28% of consumers subscribe to mobile marketing, 35% say what they receive is not relevant

Approximately 64% of subscribers have purchased a product if the mobile message was relevant. The three areas people were most interested receiving information about were pricing (66%), time-sensitive sales (52%) and location based (50%).

Across the pond, there is similar research. Mobile solutions specialist Oxygen8 Group’s survey in the United Kingdom showed that 42% of consumers feel the mobile marketing they receive is not relevant or useful.

It would seem that rather than “discounting” mobile marketing, tweaking the messages or deals could spike sales. People may save coupons, but tend to forget them when it’s time to shop. The knowledge that they are always carrying the coupons with them on a mobile device could help them remember and use the offers.

The Impact of Online Search

A study by Frost & Sullivan in Australia revealed that online searching is surpassing other online advertising, including sponsorships, integrated site content, e-newsletters; online classifieds and online directories. It is expected to rise from 83% this year to 91% in 2018. Click to call from a mobile device is becoming more popular. This trend is due to the increased use of mobile devices and many of these searches are local. With a recent emphasis on buying local and the surveys indicating consumers being receptive to localized mobile marketing, small businesses, which are usually the local ones, should take advantage of the opportunity.

Combining Brick and Mortar with Mobile

A good marketing plan integrates different platforms. The recommendation of another survey suggests a different way of adapting to the mobile method.

BIA/Kelsey studied the development of shopping, commerce and payments in the mobile age. A shocking result was that combined, e-commerce and m-commerce accounted for only 7% of American retail spending! People still like going to a store and looking at a product or trying on clothes. Their suggestion is incorporating into the brick and mortar store “mobile-assisted offline shopping.” For example, a Vietnamese food truck in Arlington, VA uses a mobile card reader in combination with an iPad to accept credit card payments, which account for 65%-70% of its sales.

With the increase of mobile shopping, advertising and usage in general,  the time is now to start focusing on making sure all of your marketing efforts are mobile friendly, and geared towards this demographic moving forward.

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Everyone who knows me, knows that I am always preaching the importance of testing when it comes to email marketing.
Test to see how your email displays on different clients…. test different subject lines…. test different sending times…. test different calls to action…. TEST, TEST, TEST!

Whenever we release a new email marketing template for our customers, we spend days checking and re-checking the design on almost 70 different email clients. It’s not a fun process (as my designers will tell you), but it’s a vital one nonetheless.

Yesterday I saw a really great and funny example of a campaign that probably could have used a bit more email client testing. I obviously subscribe to a ton of email newsletters and have seen all sorts of funny things over the years, but this one easily jumps to the top. And, since I always talk about content & context, in the context of yesterday being Valentine’s Day, this might be even more funny.

Before you check out the image below, I do want to say that I am a huge fan of Search Engine Watch. I have been a subscriber and loyal user of their site for more years then I can remember. They produce excellent content and are always very reliable. They are true leaders in their field and I have the utmost respect for them and all their contributors. Anyway, moving along….

When their daily newsletter landed in my inbox on my iPhone 4S, this was the subject line I saw:

Email Subject Line Length on iPhone 4S - Search Engine Watch (Feb. 14, 2013)

Unless the search engine optimization world has changed a lot and Search Engine Watch is promoting some sort of new link building tactic, I think this was just an honest mistake… LOL!

The actual subject line is “A Guide to Getting Started With Analytics” and on desktop clients, such as Gmail shown below, this displayed correctly.

Sesrch Engine Watch (Feb. 14, 2013) - Gmail

These days it is hard to test your subject line across every desktop, web-based, and mobile client since there are so many. But, without testing you certainly run the risk of having display issues like this. Ultimately, I suspect the guys at Search Engine Watch would have a laugh about this, but for many other organizations this would be far from a laughing matter.

The general “best practices” rule that we tell our customers is for a subject line to be less than 50 characters. That being said, the iPhone in portrait orientation only displays about 40 characters so if you have anything longer than that, it might be truncated. Certainly there are some situations that call for longer subject lines with more details and there are others that can call for shorter subject lines. The key is really to come up with something that will entice the reader to open your message. But, if you’re one of the people writing a longer subject line, be careful of where it might get cut off so you don’t make the same mistake as Search Engine Watch.

© 2013 Elite Email Inc. Blog Admin