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Issue: 43 - Jul 16, 2012
Gamechange: Mobile Most Popular Device for Email by Close of 2012
By: Joe Dysart
Joe Dysart
While the tech world is riddled with paradigm shifts, the latest is a duzy:  By the close of 2012, mobile devices will overtake PCs as the predominant platform for reading email, according to a recent study.
 
That fast-approaching upheaval is expected to be a brain-rattler for veterinary marketers, who will be forced to reconfigure their marketing emails to fit much smaller devices – which take longer to download email, especially when those messages are laden with bloated multimedia.
  
“The future of computing is mobile,” says Matt Blumberg, CEO of Return Path (http://www.returnpath.com), the email marketing services company that released to report.  “More and more people are using smartphones and tablets and are moving away from PCs and desktop.”
  
Agrees Melonie Dodaro, social media specialist, Top Dog Social Media (http://topdogsocialmedia.com/):  “Everything in your online marketing should be mobile-friendly.”
  
Return Path uncovered the coming dominance of mobile after analyzing email from nearly 500 clients from October 2011 to March 2012.  It’s Campaign Insight tool, which tracks the platforms and email programs that subscribers use to read email, was integral to the projection.
 
“Marketers that don’t have the basic data they need to figure out their mobile strategy will likely lose out,” Blumberg says.
 
Driving the change are mobile Apple devices like the iPad and iPhone, which accounted for 85% of all email opens on mobile devices during the study period.  “Email readership on the iPad has increased 53.6% year-over-year,” Blumberg says.

“Mobile devices offer extreme simplicity:  instant on, instant availability and a very common user interface” says Paul Mansfield, president, Paul Mansfield Consulting, a tech consulting firm.

 
Agrees says Jennifer Ellis, vice president Freedman Consulting, another tech consulting firm:  “If someone is running late, I don’t have to waste time.  I don’t routinely carry my laptop, but I always have my phone.”
 
Indeed, mobile device penetration in the U.S is so pervasive, it’s already at more than 100% of the population, according to an April 2012 report released by eMarketer (http://www.emarketer.com), a tech market research firm.  Quite simply, mobile is so popular, many people own more than one mobile computing device. “This growth is largely thanks to the popularity of tablets,” eMarketer’s researchers write. 
 
In addition, smartphones in particular on a tear.  By the close of 2012, 192 million Americans will be using smartphones --- or 100 million more than were using smartphones by the close of 2011, according to the research firm, according to eMarketer.
 
Ironically, the continuing rise of mobile will actually signal a step-back in email marketing – at least for the short term.  Confronted with less digital real estate, marketers will once again need to rely more on text and less on multimedia.  Plus, they’ll have to put together messages that are much more concise than those currently being read on 24” PC screens.
 
The bonus:  once reconfigured, mobile-friendly marketing messages will also be a perfect fit for Facebook’s messaging platform, which currently displays the text version of any email by default.
 
To get from here to there, below are some specific tactics veterinary industry mareketers can use to adapt to the game change, as recommended by Responsys (http://www.responsys.com), another email marketing firm, as well as from other experts:
 
*Get a precise read on the tech your subscribers are using:  If you’ve outsourced your email distribution, there’s a good chance your service provider can give you a percentage breakdown on the kind of devices your subscribers use to read email.
 
For those on leaner budgets, a survey of your subscribers might do the trick.  SurveyMonkey (http://www.surveymonkey.com/), for example, offers survey services ranging from free to $780/annually.

*Offer a ‘view on mobile’ link:  Mobile users well-acquainted with the agony of attempting to read a ‘designed-for-PC’ email will welcome a link they can click that leads to a text version – or at least ‘lite’ version – of your email. 

 
*Reduce email width to 640 pixels or less:  Skinnier margins on emails have been shown to increase user interaction and click-throughs on mobile devices, according to Responsys.  Moreover, if you can live with a very skinny margin of say 320 pixels, you can be assured your message can also be read on tiny screens held vertically.
 
*Shoot for a 20K file size:  Granted, such austerity will elicit groans from e-marketing staffs. But if you’re at least shooting for a 20K message size, your designers will be forced to focus on the new reality.  The old saw, ‘No one reads a pretty message that takes forever to download,’ has never been more true.
 
*Offer a PC-friendly version where applicable:  Many mobile users peek at emails they intend to study later, when they’re at their PCs.  If you’ve got a feature-rich version of your marketing email for the PC, label it as such, and offer a look-at-it-later-link in the mobile version of your message.
 
*Offer generous-sized, call-to-action buttons:  You should get more click-throughs if the call-to-action button in your email – i.e., ‘buy this,’ ‘download this report,’ ‘click-to-call,’ etc.  – is 45 pixels.  This size ensures someone can tap your call-to-action button with their finger very easily – even if they’re juggling a Starbucks Latte with their other hand.
 
*Reconfigure Web site landing pages to be mobile-friendly:  Anyone who clicks on your email should be greeted with a mobile-friendly Web landing page that downloads like quicksilver.  In practice, this means narrowing the widths of such pages and keeping copy and advertising on such pages brief. 
 
You’ll also want to remove Flash from designed-for-mobile landing pages, since the iPhone, iPod Touch and BlackBerry all do not support flash.  And while Android theoretically supports Flash, the reality is working with the format on a mobile Android device can be vexing.
 
*Offer mobile app links in your marketing emails:  A link to any mobile app related to your marketing email just makes sense.
 
*Use the migration to completely overhaul your emarketing:  While you’re at it, you may want to brush up on all the other latest tactics email marketers are using.  A good, free 25-page guide is offered by Responsys, ‘Email Design & Coding Recommendations’ (http://www.responsys.com/downloads/reports/Responsys_Email_Design_and_Coding_Recommendations.pdf).
 

Joe Dysart is an Internet speaker and business consultant based in Manhattan. 
Voice: (646) 233-4089
Email: joe@joedysart.com
Web: www.joedysart.com
 
IMAGE:  “Everything in your online marketing should be mobile-friendly,” says Melonie Dodaro, social media specialist, Top Dog Social Media.