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Email Marketing for the Holidays, Part 1: Making the Right Mobile Impression

Email Marketing for the Holidays, Part 1: Making the Right Mobile Impression

It's better to err on the side of complete disclosure than to tease mobile email recipients in the subject line in the hopes they'll open it, noted Ashley Twist, senior innovation strategist of mobility for Engauge. "Be clear about the content of the email," she advised. "Saying 'Save 40 percent on new sweaters' is much more exciting and appealing than 'New sweaters just arrived.'"

Email marketing will be a key strategy in retailers' advertising playbooks this holiday season, but not just any email. Increasingly, it is becoming clear that more consumers are reading emails via their mobile devices -- in many cases, only that way. They are also using their mobile devices in stores for last-minute product research, and that includes the emailed offers from local merchants.

In fact, a full 48 percent of email is now opened on a mobile device, according to Ashley Twist, senior innovation strategist of mobility at Engauge.

For that reason, marketers need, more than ever, to be familiar with the best practices associated with mobile email marketing this holiday shopping season. In the end, it is all about delivering a good mobile experience, Twist said -- getting to that point, though, requires much thought and planning.

The Subject Line

Volumes have been written about the subject line for email messages, and the lessons learned are particularly apt in the mobile environment because of the limited screen space.

"Subject lines make the first impression," Boston University professor Shuba Srinivasan told CRM Buyer. "They need to be inviting enough to not give away the whole email, concise enough that they fit on the screen of all devices and clear enough that people know why you're sending an email."

It is better to err on the side of complete disclosure with recipients in a mobile environment than tease them in the subject line in the hopes they will open it, Twist noted.

"Be clear about the content of the email, whether that's an offer or information about a product," she advised. "Saying 'Save 40 percent on new sweaters' is much more exciting and appealing than 'New sweaters just arrived.'"

Put yourself in the consumer's shoes, Twist added -- what email would you open? Answer: Subjects with specific deals and keywords like 'Free,' 'Exclusive' and 'Today Only' are more likely to be opened than ones with less tempting verbiage, she said.

'Never Lie or Mislead'

That said, don't dress up the subject line to the point where it is a lie, warned Jerry Jao, CEO of Retention Science.

"Never lie or mislead in your subject line," Jao told CRM Buyer. "For example, you list in the subject line 'Up to 60 percent off' but once you open the email, it's really 20 percent off and with select items '60 percent off' -- this will annoy your shoppers."

Make It Easy

Email marketing technology is now about so much more than just crafting and sending emails. The better applications usually offer some way to call retailers directly from the email if they have further questions. Use these features, advises Eric Holmen, CMO of Invoca.

"Mobile has changed the rules of the email marketing game," Holmen told CRM Buyer. "Consumers are less likely to learn about products and make purchases by scrolling through increasingly smaller screens on their mobile device."

They are also much more likely to convert if the retailer makes it easy for them to call by placing the click-to-call function directly in their email window.

"We recommend including a call to action directly in the email's subject line, such as 'Call now to reserve your turkey' or 'Call now to book your travel insurance,'" he said.

That, however, is just one way to address the issue of Call to Action in an email marketing message designed for a mobile device. As with the subject line, there are many views about what works and what doesn't -- in Part 2, we'll look at more of them.

Email Marketing for the Holidays, Part 2: Crafting a Compelling Call to Action


Erika Morphy has been writing about technology, finance and business issues for more than 20 years. She lives in Silver Spring, Md.


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