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Why email is the anchor for mobile marketing

Mobile is quickly becoming the go-to place to check email, sometimes even more than desktop. Therefore, it is critical that marketers not only optimize emails but also weave the channel into every aspect of a mobile campaign.

With this high usage from handsets, email marketing is becoming a mobile-first strategy. However, with a smaller screen and consumers' shorter attention spans on their devices, marketers have to remember to keep mobile email initiatives simple, straight-forward and punchy.

?Based on what we?ve seen over the past several years, email has legitimately become a mobile tactic unto itself ? the important point is that this is happening, no matter if you acknowledge it or not,? said Dave Lawson, director of mobile and digital unification at Knotice, Akron, OH.

?How you choose to address this is where you can capture the existing behavior and turn it into an asset to establish better relationships with your customers, engage your prospects more deeply and drive mobile-optimized business results,? he said.

?If you are a brand that aspires to have great relationships with your consumer pool, how you choose to address something like mobile behavior can be a huge difference-maker.?

Mobile check-up
According to Mr. Lawson, there are three tiers of strategies that brands are using with mobile email.

The most basic thinking is to include a link that directs users to optimized content. Although it is smart to realize that the traffic is coming from a handset, the email itself is not planned with a mobile-first mentality.

?Unfortunately, this is pretty much a 'checking the box' kind of treatment, and in most cases that I have seen, the destination after the click is not a great mobile experience nor is it on-message for why the person clicked on it in the first place,? Mr. Lawson said.

A second-tier strategy includes a design that works well on both desktop and mobile, such as simple copy and links that take users to optimized, relevant content.

At the highest level, a mobile email campaign not only includes copy that is mobile-friendly but is also sent in a device-specific format.

For example, an email that is optimized for iPhones should not include flash because the technology does not support the iOS operating system.

Additionally, email can be a great way for companies to increase app downloads. However, the emails need to be targeted at users who are accessing email on the specific platform that the app is available on.

By optimizing email campaigns with mobile users in mind, brands can not only create a seamless experience, but consumers are more likely to have a positive experience with a brand overall, leading to more frequent visits, loyalty and a higher chance of a consumer spreading the word about the company to friends and family.

Real-world collection
Email and SMS databases are two of the most treasured pieces of data for digital marketers, which can go hand-in-hand to helping boost one another, according to one email expert.

?[One] trend we are seeing is the use of more contextual triggers for email marketing,? said Manny Ju, director of product management at BlueHornet Networks, San Diego, CA.

?People are able to subscribe to an email marketing list simply by sending a text message with their email address to a short code,? he said.

Compared to email, SMS marketing is more urgent and consumers are more likely to see a message that pops up on their device. Therefore, leveraging mobile can be an effective way to take advantage of a less-intrusive email campaign.

Location can also play a huge role for driving email sign-ups.

For example, by using location, marketers can send out tailored messages around real-world events such as sporting events or concerts that ask users for their email address. If the message is sent while a consumer is at a relevant place, they will be more inclined to opt-in to an email program.

After collecting a user?s email, companies can then send out emails with location-sensitive content.

?For example, the email will display a map that shows points of interest near to where they are when reading the email,? Mr. Ju said.

?Finally, we are starting to see the use of triggered emails from geo-fencing. While this technology primarily uses text messages, some brands are experimenting with emails,? he said.

Similarly, time of day makes a big impact on how and when email is read, meaning that brands need to think ahead about which platform consumers will be opening and reading an email on.

Sending out an email message in the middle of the day based on the idea that consumers are more likely to read email on their desktop while at work is a thing of the past.

?The important trend for marketers to pay attention to is that access to email starts earlier in the day ? large percentages of people check email on a phone before they even get out of bed ? and ends later in the day,? said Tami Forman, senior director of global corporate communications at Return Path, New York.

?This makes many of the conventions you thought you knew about when to send email completely obsolete,? she said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York