Four Ways to Make Email Content Adaptable for Any Device

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Even as users increasingly interact with email across multiple devices, the marketing staple is seeing a desktop conversion comeback.

Desktop emails made a major comeback in Q2 2015 in terms of conversion. Surprised?

According to the Q2 2015 “U.S. Consumer Device Preference Report” by Movable Ink, desktop conversions increased from 37% in Q1 to 52.6% in Q2. iPhone conversions, contrastingly, dropped from 31.1% to 18.67%, and Android conversions dropped from 18.2% to 10.5%.

Vivek Sharma, cofounder and CEO of the dynamic email content platform provider, suggests that a longer winter could have contributed to this change. He also notes that different verticals show different device preferences. For instance, 49.4% of nonprofit email opens occur on a desktop, compared to the 62.5% of apparel email opens that take place on a smartphone. Changes in the way the study was conducted could have impacted the results, too. Movable Ink analyzed 267,000 email conversions for its most recent report, compared to 57,000 for its Q1 2015 study.

However, that's not to say that email marketers should ignore desktop altogether. On the contrary, 67.8% of email opens in Q2 occurred on a mobile device, compared to 32.22% that took place on desktop.

The key takeaway, according to Sharma, is that marketers need to produce email content that's optimized for any device. “The drum that we keep banging year after year is that you need to really be adaptable and adaptive to your customers,” he says.

Here are four pieces of advice marketers should keep in mind when creating email content that will perform well on desktop and mobile.

1. Remember, not every subscriber consumes email the same way.

Just as how no two customers are exactly alike, the ways in which customers consume email differ, too. For instance, subscribers' email open habits can vary by the following:

Device

Time of day

And even geographic location

And although it's impossible to predict a subscriber's exact context at time of open, leveraging dynamic content can help, Sharma says. Taking all of these factors into consideration can also help marketers reevaluate their email marketing strategies. For instance, if a travel brand knows that a subscriber is more likely to convert via desktop and that he opens more emails via desktop during the evenings, then that brand can start sending more emails at night to drive conversion, Sharma explains.

“You can't expect everyone to consume content in the same way,” he says, “especially when consumers have more of the power [to] choose how, when, and where to consume content.”

2. Identify the post-click action.

Success! You got your subscriber to open the email and click through—now what? Sharma says marketers need to think about what they want their emails' post-click actions to be and how that might vary by device. For instance, a subscriber that opens a nonprofit email on a smartphone may be invited to text to donate, as opposed to being directed to the organization's website to donate, he says. Similarly, if a subscriber opens a media company's email regarding his favorite show on his desktop, then that subscriber should be directed to the company's online streaming page, instead of an app.

Also, make sure to test these experiences, Sharma says—no marketer wants to direct their subscribers to a broken link.

3. Don't view email as a siloed channel.

Sharma describes email as the “connective tissue” that links other channels. Marketers may want to adopt this mind-set, too. Instead of debating whether they should dedicate more dollars to email or social, for instance, marketers should see how they can simultaneously bolster both channels, he argues, such as by including a live Twitter feed or Instagram image that directs subscribers to those respective channels.

“This is one of those cases where one plus one actually equals three,” he says.

4. Measure beyond the inbox.

Open rates and click-throughs are standard metrics for success; however, Sharma advises marketers to look beyond the inbox and to analyze post-open behaviors, such as their click-stream or time spent on site, that help determine where customers are in the purchase funnel.

“There's almost a drop-off focus after the click and right before the conversion,” he says. “There's a wealth of engagement and things that your customers are doing that can be repurposed to go tailor content far more effectively in those email campaigns than after that.”

Note: All featured graphs are from the Q2 2015 “U.S. Consumer Device Preference Report.” 

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