Email Marketing for the Mobile Web

April 1, 2012 | Written by: jeffrey.friend | Filed under: email marketing

I’ve been reading more and more stats regarding the future of the web, and it’s no surprise that mobile is a major part of this. There’s a great PDF study from Equation Research (on behalf of Compuware) that lists some really great information. Granted this study was in 2011, but frankly, this is something to pay attention to, because the “Mobile Web” is not going away. Here are some key findings

  • Mobile users’ expectations for mobile website speed continue to increase. 71% of global mobile web users expect websites to load as quickly, almost as quickly or faster on their mobile phone compared to the computer they use at home – up from 58% in 2009. However, almost half (46%) said websites load more slowly on their phone.
  • Nearly 60% of web users say they expect a website to load on their mobile phone in 3 seconds or less and 74% are willing to wait 5 seconds or less for a single web page to load before leaving the site. 50% are only willing to wait 5 seconds or less for an application to load before exiting.
  • 57% of global mobile web users had a problem accessing a website in the past year and 47% had a problem accessing an app on their phone. More than 80% of mobile web users would access websites more often from their phone if the experience was as fast and reliable.
  • Mobile users do not have much patience for retrying a website or application that is not functioning initially — a third will go to a competitor’s site instead. The majority of mobile web users are only willing to retry a website (78%) or application (80%) two times or less if it does not work initially.
  • A bad experience on a mobile website leaves mobile web users much less likely to return to, or recommend, a particular website. Nearly half of mobile web users are unlikely to return to a website that they had trouble accessing from their phone and 57% are unlikely to recommend the site

So, what does all of this have to do with Email Marketing? Here’s what I think:

  1. We need to create fast loading emails. Users expect things to load fast, so this means a judicious use of highly-optimized images.
  2. We need to create email marketing that is responsively designed so it will display differently desktop & smartphone.

Point 1 is easy to achieve, and we should all be doing this anyway. Point 2 is possible, depending on your subscribers. Sure we can create fluid email grids, but making the switch from HTML4 tables to more DIV and CSS based layouts make me just a bit nervous yet. Call me old school, but I like knowing that my email is going to work everywhere!

And CSS media-query support is not well supported across mobile email clients (specifically Gmail mobile). Here’s some good information on which mobile email clients support media queries (note: this was published in March of 2011). Campaign Monitor also has a great deal of info on CSS support in email clients, and is a great reference. From what I see from these two articles, we can be creating email marketing that scales for mobile, and we should be. But we are just scratching the surface of what we’d really like to be doing, and the old adage “test, test, and test some more” has never been more true. We owe it to our clients (and their subscribers) to know that these emails are extremely fast-loading and easy-to-read no matter what the device. Hopefully in the future, CSS (and specifically media-queries) support across all email clients will improve. As far as I’m concerned, it has to.

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