Mobile e-mail marketing 'musts' for 2008

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It's time for US marketers to take heed of what European marketers have already learned: Mobile e-mail marketing is no longer a “future” opportunity. The onset of HTML e-mail enabled devices such as the Apple iPhone represents a flashpoint in the mobile e-mail market, and traditional mobile e-mail marketing will no longer be enough.

Savvy marketers have already implemented best practices to support a mobile e-mail marketing strategy. Have you? Consider these mobile e-mail marketing “musts” for 2008.

Remember that the mobile device is not replacing the PC. Send messages in multi-part MIME format in order to ensure that they render clearly in both environments. This allows the customer's e-mail client to identify the most complex version that can be rendered, and proceed accordingly. In the near future, integrating e-mail with SMS and MMS will be necessary to support multichannel programs. For now, however, multi-part MIME works best.

Continue best practices you have implemented around relevance, frequency, and preferences. What is best for e-mail and your clients' interests is still what is best for mobile. The goal should be to augment what you are already doing, and capitalize on the immediacy and flexibility of mobile devices as a vehicle for marketing programs that might otherwise falter.

Ask your audience if they are receiving e-mail on a mobile device. When you know which customers are reading e-mail on a mobile device and when, you can maximize efforts to segment and personalize messages. Special offers and messages can be designed just for mobile users. Also, take the opportunity to ask customers what their preferences are around frequency. With mobile devices in the mix, it is more important than ever to offer customers control.

Get your branding in early. Make sure your brand is visible in the “from” field or in the first 40 characters of the subject line. Customers are more likely to open an e-mail from a brand they trust, which means you need to identify yourself early and often in abbreviated mobile messages.

Exploit the mobility of the devices in your campaigns. Design your campaigns to be timely, concise, and individualized. Mobile e-mail presents a unique format for interacting with your customers, but only if you let the format guide your creativity. Now is the time to think outside the box (and the desktop, and the cubicle, and the office) and design campaigns that are urgent and personal. Mobile devices offer a tremendous opportunity to leverage location you're your campaigns. Also, make sure the call-to-action click is featured prominently in the first paragraph of text, which is reminiscent of the “above the fold” strategy in standard e-mail. Furthermore, some devices by default may not download the entire e-mail.

Know how to take advantage of multichannel marketing opportunities. Mobile e-mail is another tool you can use to elevate your brand in customers' eyes. Consider ways that you can position mobile marketing efforts as a valuable service to your customers. As a rule, customers are more likely to deal with mobile e-mail they consider urgent rather than commercial. Focus on programs that are worthwhile, engaging or provide a service that makes customers' lives easier.

Test and re-test. Measure and analyze the results of your campaigns to understand what is working on mobile devices and what is not. The main reason customers ignore mobile e-mail is because they have had a bad experience in the past. Test your messages in order to understand when they are too image-intensive, poorly rendered in HTML, or just too difficult to read.

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