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Email Marketing: New Devices Mean New Tactics

Increasingly email marketing messages are being read on screens other than the 19-24 inch-sized monitor of a typical desktop. Marketers now have to take into account the growing number of people who check email via smartphone - which have screens typically sized at 2-4 inches. (via Direct Marketing Association [pdf]).

With the advent of tablet computers - thanks to Apple and now Microsoft and HP - as well as the continued growth of e-readers and netbooks, email marketers can expect the 20% of recipients who now view their messages on smartphones to grow even more to include these other devices.

Transitioning to this multi-device world will require equal parts intuitiveness about what people are willing to read on smaller screens and a technical understanding of how the messages appear on these devices.

Email Ergonomics

For the former, there is a surprising wealth of statistical data. For instance, the DMA presentation notes that people reading emails from smartphones typically read about half an inch to an inch away from the screen, with their heads down, leaning forward.

An e-reader user, by contrast, will have the device half an inch to an inch and a half away, reading with his or her head down and leaning back. That is also true with a netbook; however a laptop user will be sitting two to three inches away with his head up, leaning forward.

Tech Issues

Email marketers also face different tech challenges when their messages are opened on mobile devices (via DM News) Since mobile e-mail generally redirects messages from the e-mail server, it's impossible to determine whether recipients have read an e-mail on a mobile device or in the e-mail client.

Mobile devices generally turn off images, making open rates difficult to track. Also, traditional tracking methods, including web analytics providers and the ESP, don't track mobile browsers.

Tactics to keep in mind, according to DM News, include:

  • Keep images - as well as email file sizes - to a minimum.
  • Test for both traditional and mobile email.
  • Build both an HTML version and an xHTML, or mobile-friendly, version of the e-mail to host on a web page.
  • Subject lines still count.

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