Not so long ago you could be confident that your marketing emails were landing on the desk of someone sitting in front of a computer, with time and an environment conducive to actually reading it. Now your emails are arriving in the hands of people in a multitude of different locations, and who are usually engaged in other activities at the same time.
Email on the move has become so commonplace that we take it for granted, but the fact is that mobile email has become a whole new discipline. Marketers need to understand what this means for them and their content, and adapt their strategies accordingly.
With mobile, the biggest single factor that determines how people respond to an email is context. This means we run the risk of not appreciating the feelings created by the environment that is the main focus of our attention.
Human behaviour is largely driven by the unconscious mind, which has the capacity to process far more information, far more quickly than the conscious mind. It is the primary job of the unconscious to filter for what is important and direct our conscious attention towards it. This filtering is done automatically, instantly and without us being aware of it.
We also rely on our unconscious mind to save energy by handling routine actions efficiently and, rather than work something out from scratch every time, we fall back on unconsciously held rules of thumb to help us act and react with minimal effort.
So the challenge is that email accessed on smartphones is being experienced in one of a myriad of contexts. It is difficult to know when a message will be accessed or what contextual cues its recipient will encounter at that time – even elements in our surroundings that should be irrelevant alter how we respond to the same message.
We all know through experience there is likely to be something else competing for our attention when we open emails on our mobile devices. Add to this the smaller screen size and all of the other ways we interact with our devices and it becomes clear you have a limited window of opportunity in which to grab attention.
This is exacerbated by our use of other media – from instant messaging to social media such as Twitter and Facebook – we are becoming used to digesting information in smaller chunks. We are developing 140 character mindsets.
The good news is that we now check our mobile devices unconsciously so if you get your message right you’re far more likely to be noticed and acted upon.
The key is to get the attention of people immediately – and we’re often talking two to three seconds at best. This is what outdoor advertisers have been doing for years – they know people driving in cars, even those waiting for public transport, are in an environment where distractions are everywhere and our minds are on other things.
To improve your chances of getting your email noticed, the following four areas should be considered:
1. Who it is from – put your brand in the friendly from field, not the name of a person people don’t know. People have signed up to receive your emails so make sure they know who you are immediately.
2. Subject line – keep it short and descriptive.
3. Pre-header – this is almost an extension of the subject line when viewed on a smartphone and can be used to generate further interest towards getting the email opened.
4. Initial content – a strong call to action and easy to see product image or offer. People are not going to read paragraphs to find out what the email is about, they want to tap to get to the product or – at best – scroll to find something that does grab their attention.
Marketers now have to work even harder to get peoples attention and have less space in which to do it. Creating a descriptive and engaging message with a minimal approach will help to get that attention.