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Issue: 57 - Sep 15, 2013
Mobile Email Marketing: Now, too Critical to Ignore
By: Joe Dysart
Joe Dysart

Ignore the needs of mobile device users when you market your veterinary business via email, and you’ll leave trunks of money of the table, according to two new reports on email usage.

A full 41% of all email is now read on mobile devices – smartphones and tablets – a spike in preference that will continue to rise for the foreseeable future, according to the “Mobile Email Opens Report, 2nd Half 2012,” released by Knotice, a marketing firm.

It’s been a dramatic, quick upsurge: only 20% of all email was read on mobile devices just a year prior during Q3 and Q4 of 2011, according to Knotice.

A similar statistic – 43% of all emails being read on the same devices by the start of 2013 – was reported in the study, “2013 Consumer Views of Email Marketing,” released earlier this year by Bluehornet, an email marketing services provider.

“The rate of increase in mobile open rates continues with consistent strength, which lends further evidence to the accelerating rate of mobile adoption,” the Knotice researchers say.

Not surprisingly, much of that mobile email is being read on Apple devices. A full 33% of all mobile email is opened either on an iPhone or iPad, according to Knotice.

Mobile users are most likely to read email on their devices at the start of the workday, or right after dinner, Knotice says – although the researchers found that there has been an overall increase in email opens on mobile devices throughout the day.

Researchers also debunked an oft-repeated myth: Overwhelmingly, mobile users do not use their smartphones and tablets to ‘preview’ emails that they later read on their desktops or laptops.  Instead those emails only get once chance to make a good impression.  Only 2% of emails opened on a mobile are re-read on more traditional devices later, Knotice found.

Interestingly, mobile users are still hesitant to engage in ‘calls-to-action’ on their mobiles – invitations to click on links, buy products, send a reply email, make a call, or similar interactivity, Knotice found.

So far, a majority of users still prefer to make those clicks on their laptops and desktops, according to Knotice. “We can still attribute this to the fact that many email marketers have yet to successfully optimize email content to mobile users,” Knotice’s researchers say.

Moreover, many mobile users are still hesitant to engage in commercial activity on mobile devices, which may require revealing credit card info, banking info or other critical, personal identifiers. Compared to desktops and laptops, which are often guarded by firewalls and Internet security software, mobile devices often have much less protection from hackers.

One take-away is certain from both studies: Veterinary businesses that take pains to ensure their emails are easily readable – and easily manipulable – on mobile devices stand to reap substantially greater profits.

Specifically, here are some recommended best practices drawn from Bluehornet’s study:

 *Design for mobile: There are scores of mobile email design tips you can find on the Web with the keyphrase “mobile email design best practices.”  Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to use images in your marketing emails that can change to fit different screen sizes.  You’ll also want to feature crisp, terse copy and large fonts.  And you should feature large buttons, which people can tap to interact with your email.

“Phones are hard to read in the sun at the best of times,” adds Edwin Lynch, manager, Geoffrey Multimedia, a Web design firm.  “So I try to keep important links and info -- like phone numbers -- above the fold.”

*Offer discounts: If possible, offer a discount as a way for a mobile user – or any user, for that matter – to sign up for your email marketing list.  Bluehornet found that 84% of respondents signed up for an email marketing list when they were lured with the promise of discounts.

*Implement ‘text-to-join’: You can make it easier for mobile users to sign-up for your email list by including a text-to-join option in the emails you send to them.

*Ask permission: Many companies are under the impression it’s perfectly okay to add a customer to their email list as long as they’ve sold a good or service to that person.  Trouble is, consumers don’t agree.  A full 75% surveyed said that simply doing business with them did not equal permission to be pummeled with marketing emails.

“Sentiment remains strong against the practice of sending promotional emails to consumers – although they’ve purchased from a brand – who haven’t specifically signed up for a brand’s email program,” Bluehornet’s researchers say.

*Don’t pester: While it’s tempting to continually inform your customers how great your brand is, if you send too many self-congratulatory missives to customers phones, customers may reach for the delete button.  The number one reason consumers unsubscribed from a marketing email list was because they received too many emails from the company.  The second most common reason for ditching an email communiqué:  the emails received from the company seemed irrelevant.

*Make emails social media friendly: Including links to your veterinary business on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social networks is a good idea when marketing by email in any medium.  Bluehornet found that 33% of those surveyed post at least some of what they find in marketing emails to one or more social networks.  So making it easier for them to post what they find in your email only makes sense.

*Consider GPS-sensitive emails: Service providers like foursquare ( are able to add location-based sensitivity to your marketing emails.  With foursquare, for example, you can automatically send emails featuring discounts and special offers to the mobile phones of foursquare members passing by your company store. 

The same service can also be used to quickly spike new subscribers while you’re at a veterinary trade show. A company might give away a free iPhone to a lucky person passing by its booth at a random time, for example. To enter, show-goers would simply need to sign-up for the company’s foursquare program via the mobile device – a sign-up that would include their email address.

Knotice’s researchers conclude: “If your brand has not yet reached the tipping point in mobile email engagement, it will soon.  How your email subscribers view and consume email has fundamentally changed. Every marketer will have to embrace the mobile-majority audience, or risk continued declines in click and conversion metrics.”


Joe Dysart is an Internet speaker and business consultant based in Manhattan. 

Voice: (646) 233-4089. 




IMAGE:  Keep important info and links at the top of your marketing emails says Edwin Lynch, manager, Geoffrey Multimedia.