Are your company newsletters optimized for mobile? If they’re not, now’s the time to get on board. Mobile open rates have never been higher. In fact, according to email analytics company Litmus, the percentage of emails opened on mobile devices has jumped from just 8% in 2011 to 53% in 2014. That’s a 500% increase.
And yet, according to ExactTarget, 42% of marketers rarely or never use responsive design. This is a huge opportunity cost for businesses, as they’re potentially forfeiting the chance to reach over half of their email subscribers.
In this article, we’ll look at current research and trends in email marketing to see just how important mobile optimization is to business owners; as well as what businesses should do to respond to the needs of their mobile subscribers.
Email marketing is key to business performance and revenue
In a 2014 survey of 2,500 global marketers, ExactTarget found that email marketing was a core business driver for 68% of marketers. Respondents reported that email was important on three levels:
· 42% said it indirectly impacted their business performance
· 42% said it was a critical enabler of their products or services
· 16% reported that email was directly linked to their primary revenue source
Fast forward to 2015. In the 2015 State of Marketing survey, marketers stated that email was even more critical to the success of their business:
· 20% said it indirectly impacts their business performance
· 60% said it’s a critical enabler of their products and services
· 20% said their primary revenue source is directly linked to email
Mobile opt-ins takes the #1 spot among email campaigns
So, we know that email is increasingly important to businesses in terms of driving business growth. But what about mobile email? What role does it play?
While newsletters and promotional content are the two most used types of email campaigns, according to the 2015 State of Marketing report it’s mobile opt-ins that are currently the #1 most effective type of campaign. While 66% of marketers stated that newsletters were very effective/effective, 76% said the same of mobile opt-ins.
Mobile opt-ins allow businesses to capture not only email addresses, but mobile phone numbers as well. This opens up a huge opportunity for businesses looking to expand outside of crowded inboxes by reaching customers via text or phone.
Email responsive design is at an all-time high (but we still have a ways to go)
The majority (68%) of marketers know that having a responsive design for their emails and landing pages is important. However, many marketers are still struggling with consistently using it, as evidenced by these numbers:
· Only 19% of marketers always use responsive email design
· 29% often use it
· 20% sometimes use it
· 12% rarely use it
In terms of email landing pages, the numbers are surprisingly similar:
· 18% of marketers always use responsive landing page design
· 28% often use it
· 19% sometimes use it
· 13% rarely use it
These stats give us a good picture of the disconnect happening between what marketers know is happening (their subscribers are increasingly opening emails on their mobile devices), and what they’re actually doing (very few are consistently using a responsive design).
But does responsive design actually impact how people engage and interact?
In 2013, shoe retailer Crocs made the switch from a traditional desktop-style email to a responsive design. Prior to this shift, they tested a variety of options to see which were most effective.
First, they tested a static desktop version of their emails against a static mobile design and a responsive design. The three versions experienced similar clicks and open rates, however the responsive design resulted in slightly higher revenue. Surprisingly, the static mobile design performed worst.
In their next test, they sent a responsive design to half of their subscribers and a static desktop version to the other half. This email didn’t include a discount (the first test they sent offered a 70% discount), and experienced even more significant results: the responsive design received a 7.66% increase in click-to-open rates, an almost 9% increase in mobile-read rate, and a 15.63% increase in iPhone-read rate. Clearly, responsive design works!
What does a mobile-friendly email design consist of?
In light of this case study as well as countless research and survey findings, responsive email design (as opposed to a static mobile design) is clearly the way to go. The good news is that if you’re with any major email management service (like aWeber, MailChimp or GetResponse), responsive templates are just a click away.
However, if you’re tackling your own email design, it’s important to understand which elements you need to ensure it’s mobile-friendly. Following are 7 of these elements.
1. Make sure your buttons, links and images are ‘tappable’ on mobile. Because your mobile readers will be using their thumb or finger to tap on these elements, it’s important to consider the ideal mobile touchscreen target size.
2. Use a single column design (2-column at the absolute most). Anything more than this will make reading and interacting with your content too difficult for mobile users.
3. Ensure your font size is at least 13–14 pixels. Smaller fonts will force mobile user to zoom to read your text. Use an even larger font for your headings.
4. Avoid using navigation bars and menus if possible. If you must use one, keep the number of navigational links or images to a minimum.
5. Use a single call to action. While having a strong call to action is important in every type of email you create, it’s even more important on mobile. Give your readers one option, and tell them exactly what to do. Better yet, include a big, bright CTA button, preferably near the beginning of your email.
6. Use images sparingly: While images can be great for adding visual interest, having too many (or having images that are too large) can wreak havoc on download times.
7. Keep your content short and sweet: Readers who are ‘on the go’ will be more likely to read content that’s short and succinct. In addition, use headings, bullets and numbered lists to break up larger chunks of content.
Using a responsive or mobile-friendly template for your email is important, but it’s just the first step in meeting the needs of your mobile subscribers. Having a mobile-friendly content strategy in place should also be a critical component of any mobile marketing initiative. For more on this, see my article, 10 Steps To Creating a Mobile-Optimized Content Marketing Strategy.
Are you using responsive or mobile-friendly email design? If not, what’s holding you back? Share below!