Email in the world of mobile marketing

  emailonmobileThere is a lot of chatter around at the moment following Google’s announcement that they will be giving more priority to mobile-friendly websites in searches made from mobiles and tablets – not least from some web developers suggesting the dire consequences of not upgrading your site NOW!

If you want our (hopefully pragmatic) view on Mobileageddon - check out this article

So that’s websites, but what about email? I don’t know about you but I use my smartphone much more for reading emails than I do for browsing websites. How come no-one is talking about mobile-friendly emails? There is no question that making e-newsletters and other marketing emails read clearly on small, handheld screens is a good idea. Most people scan emails very quickly so you need to make sure your message still has pride of place on a mobile screen.

How do I do this?

This isn’t a technical tutorial but you can make your email design ‘responsive‘ to adapt to display best on different screen sizes using media queries. Essentially, this means using cascading style sheets (CSS) media queries (ie: code that identifies the screen size and changes the design accordingly) to adapt the design as appropriate. I appreciate this may be something you want to discuss with your web designer Bear in mind: Not all mobile email clients support media queries (you will find details of levels of support by email client here), and where they do not support it, they will simply be ignored. The bottom line is that iPhones and Android do support media queries while many of the more niche operating systems don’t. The latest news (March 2015) is that Yahoo mail does now support media queries – to a point! You can read the latest here

What approach should I take to mobile marketing?

Here are three steps which will hopefully help you develop an approach to mobile email that is right for your business

1 Just how important is mobile email for me and my business?

Undoubtedly mobile is becoming more and more important in email marketing but this doesn’t necessarily mean that you must do something now. First of all it is worth checking out what proportion of your emails are opened on mobile devices. It isn’t straightforward to measure this directly but here is a way you can at least get an idea of some numbers:

  • Make sure your emails can be tracked as a traffic source in Google Analytics (most decent email marketing packages offer this functionality)
  • Note the proportion of links from your email that are being opened on a mobile device
  • Use this proportion as an indicator of the significance of mobile in your email campaigns

2 Pick your strategy

Once you have an idea of the significance of mobile marketing to you and your business one of the following is likely to be most appropriate: Little or no mobile significance – probably best to leave well alone for now then review in a few months Some mobile activity but desktop is the majority – Design your email for desktop viewing and include media queries to adapt the design to supported mobile screens where appropriate Significant mobile activity – Design your email for mobile viewing and include media queries to adapt the design to make best use of larger desktop screens where appropriate

3 Test your email on as many different devices as possible

As I said above, media query support does vary across different smartphones and tablets so testing is particularly important.

With any email marketing you should ALWAYS test-send your messages.

Normally this is to check you aren’t falling foul of spam filters and that the links in your email work correctly, but with mobile there is the additional check to see how your email displays on different devices. Remember, you don’t need to aim for perfect display on every device so long as your core message is strong. If you find insurmountable issues with display on a particular, niche device that has minimal impact on your overall message delivery, maybe this is acceptable

4 Monitor the statistics to check your mobile marketing impact

As with all marketing communication you should consistently monitor the response levels you are getting. Be ready to tweak and refine your messages and layout if you think you can improve teh outcomes As technology moves on and more clients start to support media queries, the responsive nature of the design will benefit a increasing number of your readers.   Hopefully this will give you some food for thought but, as always, make sure your email marketing campaigns are joined-up and consistent with your wider marketing communication and business development If you would like to talk to use about whether you should consider responsive design in your emails, we would love to talk to you.

How Important is Mobile to my Business?

shutterstock_121840306-350x291Over the past few weeks, the internet has been awash with stories ‘Mobileageddon‘ the impending doom that Google was about to rain down on business whose websites were not deemed to be mobile friendly. A week after last Tuesday, 21st April (when Google started to roll out the change),t he world is still here, and there do not seem to be too many reports of business being taken down by the change. However it does raise an interesting question,that we thought required a balanced answer:

"How Important is Mobile to my Business?"

Irrespective of the impact of Google’s changes, I think this is a question that businesses should be asking.

In the scope of this article, I am considering websites and email. Whilst there are many other marketing activities where mobile is a factor, it is these two where decisions and investment need consideration.

To establish the importance of mobile in these areas, we need to know how many of your website visitors and readers of your emails are using mobiles?

To answer these questions, we need to turn to Google Analytics. Using GA, there is a simple check you can do to see how much mobile traffic you are receiving.

Mobile and Websites

From the dashboard, you can select Audience -> Mobile -> Overview. This will give you a breakdown of where your traffic is coming from (see below)

Goog_mob

In the case of this account, we can see that <10% of traffic is on mobile, so currently mobile optimization  might not be a  top priority.

Although this is a very basic check, it can give a quick idea of how important mobile access to your site is for visitors, and in cases where the result is more marginal, analytics can go deeper into the impact that (a lack of) mobile responsiveness is having  – but that’s another post!

Mobile and Email

Using analytics as described above may be fine for websites but what of email? Currently, it is not possible to directly establish what device people are viewing your email.

However, here too Google analytics can give you pointers.

Going to Acquisition -> Source/Medium -> All Traffic on the left hand menu, and then selecting “email” will allow you to see the traffic that has come to your website from marketing emails (assuming that you are flagging emails with source tags).

Goog_mob_email

Here you can see that 25% of email traffic is coming from mobile, so this is probably an area that you should be investigating more thoroughly in terms of ensuring that mobile viewers of your email are catered for. Again this is another post, but in this case you will find this post here.

Google and Mobile

Having established, in general, how important mobile is to your business, the final point that I would like to cover is around Google and mobile.

The Google algorithm change will only affect searches on mobile devices

The thing to bear in mind here is that the Google algorithm change will only affect searches on mobile devices, so any searches from desktops will not be impacted. On this basis, if the above analysis identifies that historically your search traffic has come from desktop users, then in the short term this recent algorithm change should have little impact.

In Summary

So “How Important is mobile to my Business?” – Hopefully this post will have put the issue into context for the short term, but what about the longer term!

There is no question that the relentless march of mobile is not stopping any time soon. Even if mobile seems less important to your business now, it will be important at some point in the future, so best to start thinking and planning mobile into your marketing communication strategy now.

To help you, Google has a useful tool for putting the issue of mobile into context.

The Google Mobile Friendly Test

This tool will tell you if a particular page your site is currently mobile friendly, and if not what need to be done to make it so. If you do nothing else, I would recommend testing your site, so you know where you stand on the issue as you make decisions on your future web strategies.

Smartphone, The marketing assistant in your pocket.

  I could write of how important mobile phones are in business today and bang that old drum telling you to make the most of them. You understand mobiles are important and you know they can benefit the way you market your own business but perhaps you just need a few tips to help you make the most of them. So instead I shall talk of ways and methods to harness the use of your mobile for marketing.

On the go

Regularly update your business’ social media feeds from your mobile when out of the office, with what you are/have been doing.

0612_PrintandGo_Article Get into the routine of updating the various platforms you have a presence on, whilst out and about. For example, instead of tweeting or posting from behind your desk in the workplace once a week, get the Twitter and LinkedIn apps and start updating daily. You should find that a day out of the office results in plenty to talk about, be it the business conference or lunch you are attending or the beneficial client meeting you’ve just had. All of this results in previously unseen aspect of your business being documented and talked about. Don’t be afraid of the mundane either, for as long as you mix things up in what you post, things won’t become monotonous.

Mega megapixels

Take photos of the interesting moments of your business, such as a quirky idea you see.

My mother is always saying how good the camera on her 4 year old iPhone is. If they were good then, they’re amazing now. You have a powerful marketing tool in your pocket, use it. Capture what you do and tell people! Updates with photos are much more likely to get interaction than an average text post. Take advantage of this, engagement will increase and so will exposure of your business. It shows to your followers, to your reader, to potential customers the good work you are doing. Free marketing in an instant.

Your pocket PA

Emails, skype, social media, calendar… the list goes on. Are you getting all the benefits from your phone?

The number of apps available to you on your phone is staggering. You can plan your week and set reminders for yourself, video call in to the important meeting from your living room sofa or send that email you forgot without even returning to your desk. If you tap into those sorts of apps and embrace them, business will become easier and more organised. You will be less likely to miss things if you have a good to do list on your phone and you routinely check it or it prompts you to take action. Simple as that, with a little time and effort, you can open up that thing in your pocket and make the most of it. You don’t have to be born in this century to embrace it. Once you have the hang of it and you’re into a good routine, you and your business can reap the rewards of the marketing assistant in your pocket.

Unblock the blockage with email

waitingforthecallI was recently in one of our regular quarterly planning meetings with a client when they told me about an event that really demonstrates the power of email as a tool to help you get a response and unblock the blockage.  It also reminded me of a tip I gave a while ago. Here’s the story:

Background

Having received a specific enquiry for some engineering work from a large process company, our client responded promptly with their quotation and then, after a reasonable period, called to follow up on the quotation. Unable to get through, they left a message. The response….Nothing! Over a further couple of weeks, more follow up calls were made, all with the same outcome – no response.

We’ve all experienced the frustration

I’m sure many of you have been in this situation and know how frustrating it is.

  1. Your prospect sent you the enquiry for a specific requirement
  2. You respond promptly with a comprehensive, competitive quotation
  3. Despite your best efforts, you just can’t get an answer

After a while you come to the conclusion that clearly they aren’t interested and move on to the next opportunity. WAIT! – Don’t just leave it at that. At least bat the ball back to them.

Back to the story…

Our client didn’t just drop it. Although they were pretty confident that the quotation was dead, they sent the following email. I repeat it almost exactly (words in italics have been changed to protect identities)

____________________________________________________________________________  Good Morning John  Just checking that you received your quotation for the engineering work?  Would it be possible to give us some feedback please. Could you help with the following   - Won/Lost  - Percentage difference  - Response Time  - Information within quotation letter/ technical detail  We try to be as competitive as possible and the information you provide will help us in the future.    Thanks in advance.  Kind Regards  Stephen  _______________________________________________________________________________

There, job done. Stephen didn’t particularly expect a reply but he hadn’t just abandoned the enquiry, though he was willing to ‘let it go‘. He had been as positive as possible – and now he could constructively cross it off his ‘To Do’ list – (always good in my view!) but 4 days later…. After 2 weeks of no response to several phone calls, This email arrived in Stephen’s inbox:

_______________________________________________________________________________  Hi Stephen,   Please see below for feedback:   - Won/Lost  Decision not yet made. If we decide not go to with you it will only be because there is a local company who can do a full turn key job on the install as a whole.  - Percentage difference You were 10% lower than one quote and 7% under for another so happy with your pricing  - Response Time Excellent, a lot quicker than the other 2 companies I went out to quotes for. It is particularly nice to have someone let me know they are working on the quote rather than just silence until a quote turns up.   - Information within quotation letter/ technical detail Again excellent I feel like I will get what I want with your quote.   Regards,  John ________________________________________________________________________________

The Moral

Don’t give up, but don’t keep banging your head against the wall. Have a joined-up process and use it. Don’t assume your efforts will fall on deaf ears. If you have a good proposition, relevant to your customers, you will get successes. Hope this inspires you to have a process to never drop an enquiry but always be willing to constructively let it go. You never know….

Are you a Marketing Master?

We have created this 10 question quiz that looks at your approach to marketing. It only takes a minute so why not have a go. How will you get on?

Are you a Marketing Master or are you stuck in the 20th century?

Talking marketing for a moment, our quiz serves 2 purposes.

  1. Hopefully you will find it engaging and a bit of fun.
  2. It demonstrates the idea of using different content formats for blog posts etc.

Take the quiz and let us know your result, either as comments to the post, or tweet us @bsamarketing.

If I could turn back time!

duncan (@Dw_Duncan)   Twitter_filesI always love the e-mails that sometimes arrive “Recalling” a previous message. The fact is that once an email has been sent, it is out there and can not be retrieved. Because of this, get it right first time is an essential part of e-mail marketing, and the key to this is testing. I can not stress enough how important this is at every stage of the process. Testing e-mail has 4 key purposes:

  1. To check that it looks good in all formats & clients
  2. To check that all links work
  3. To check that the message is correct and typo free
  4. To check that is is ending up in the inbox rather than the Junk folder

Looking at these aspects individually:

Compatibility testing

Unlike websites, that will usually be viewed in one of 4 web browsers (Chrome, Explorer, Firefox or Safari), the permutations for viewing email are much broader. To give you an idea, the email client simulator we use delivers 34 previews (61 if you include all permutations of web browsers for web based mail). All of these will potentially render your carefully crafted email slighty differently, so testing is important to ensure that it looks good across the board. But lets be realistic, testing your email, and getting it spot on in all 61 clients is pretty much impossible, so in practice, I would consider the following:

  • In practice the top 10 account for over 90% of email, so you are probably OK focusing on these in your testing. Here is a list of the current top 10
  • Use your website analytics to get an idea of which platforms people are using. Although you cant directly see email clients Looking ad visits driven from email, will give you a good idea of what people are using
  • For the top 3 or 4 try to do live tests to accounts of the various platforms rather than simply relying on simulators

Link Checking

One key purpose of emails is to drive traffic to your website, so it is essential that all links work and go to the correct place. The first and most basic test is to send a copy of the email and click every link to check they are correct. If you are using templates, or simply taking a copy of the last email sent & updating the content, it surprisingly easy to miss a link, so this step is essential. Once you are happy the links are correct, the final step in this process is to send a live test. By a “live test” I mean sending it exactly as if it were going for real, but sending it to a list of just your test email addresses. The reason for this is that most systems will change the links on a live send, to include tracking information, and we have had circumstances where adding these tags breaks the links, so the only way to be sure is to test it “for real”!

Proof reading

Proof reading at every stage of putting together an email is essential, and although sending test emails is not an essential part of this process, sending the email to a few people and asking them to proof read is always a good practice, furthermore, it is essential to recheck the email every time you make a change (however small it may seem) to be sure everything is still good. When proof reading, here are a couple of things to consider:

  • Pay particular attention to the subject line. Its easy to focus on the body, and forget this key part if the message
  • Always get someone who has not been involved in putting the email together to do the final proofread, as when you have put the copy together, its easy to miss things

In fact, proofreading emails is no different from checking other output, so these tips from the Plain English campaign should put you on solid ground.

Spam Checking

Although there are tools out there that will test your email for spam keywords and the like, in our experience there is no substitute for sending tests to your key platforms and seeing where they end up. Like the link checking, this is an instance where “live tests” are needed. The key reasons for this is that things can change when you send an email for real (server IP address, Image and Link urls etc) all of which can impact on deliverability. Server IP address is particularly important here, as its reputation is key to deliverability. You will find more on this here. Although in most circumstances, the best way to test deliverability is to set up accounts on key platforms, and then to send tests to these accounts, in some cases, a more comprehensive approach may be appropriate. If this is the case, you may find mailmonitorapp.com of interest, although it costs, it does have some useful email monitoring/testing tools in its portfolio. And remember … …. Cher’s “If I could turn back time” is actually about her sending an email campaign with a mistake in it!

The 3 Pillars of Digital Marketing

pillarsThere is a lot of hype around the subject of digital marketing, but like most things, when the hype is stripped away, it is all pretty straightforward. In reality, there are 3 vital components of any digital marketing:

  1. Content
  2. Email
  3. Social Media

Together these can be used to create a sustainable, joined-up brand development strategy. Let’s look at them in a little more detail.

Content – The bedrock of any strategy

Content should be the bedrock of any strategy. Great content that presents your brand in a professional, interesting way is key to any digital marketing strategy. As a minimum you should be looking to have an easily updated news or blog section on your website,The focus of this content should be about telling your story, promoting your skills and expertise, and demonstrating how you can add value to your customers. The scope of this content can be as broad as your imagination, and should include things like:

  • News about new products/services
  • Case studies demonstrating how you have helped your customers
  • Testimonials from happy customers

As well as these “standards”, you can also use less conventional forms of content to keep things interesting.

  1. Quizzes – I saw an interesting idea recently for a travel company, using the “find your animal soulmate” quiz to promote safari holidays.
  2. Videos – In addition to the traditional video, there are now some great tools out their (eg Powtoon) for bringing your content to life with animated slideshows
  3. Presentations – With services like slideshare, you can turn Powerpoint presentations into engaging on-line content
  4. Surveys – Not only do these encourage people to engage with you, they also give some interesting insight into how your contacts think. These can easily be built into WordPress websites, or created using tools like Survey Monkey

These types of content usually require a little more thought and preparation, but definitely bring a new level of interest to your content, and really drive engagement. Whatever content you use, it needs to be regular and sustained. I recommend using a content calendar to take the stress out of keeping it coming.

Email – Great for the people you know

Generating all this content is great, but it’s a waste of time if no one looks at it! It is important to get your message out there. Email is a great tool for getting your message to those people that you already know. Most businesses will have list of contacts, both customers and prospects. Keeping in touch with these contacts is a vital part of building a strong and consistent brand, and email is the perfect medium for achieving this. The process is quite simple. Once you have your contacts in a spreadsheet, these can be uploaded into an online email marketing tool (here you need look no further than Mailchimp), which can then be used to create stylish emails based on the content discussed above. Tools like Mailchimp include flexible templates and drag and drop editing that allow you easily to create your emails. One word of warning here though. The provided templates are great as far as they go, but be sure to stick with their basic designs. Trying to customise them to your exact design requirements can get very technical and frustrating!

Social Media – Broadening your horizons

Email is a great tool for communicating with the people you know, but not so good when you are trying to engage with new contacts and widen your audience. Here the tool of choice is social media. For most businesses, especially in the B2B arena, we are talking about Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube and, to a lesser extent, Facebook. Using a mixture of these platforms is a great way to spread the word and to develop an even wider audience for your content. Furthermore, by its very nature, social media encourages people to share and respond to your content developing a rich, 2-0way interaction with your market. Again a word of warning. Social media is all about activity and to be effective, you really need to be posting to social media accounts of a daily basis as a minimum. Obviously the content discussed earlier will be the bedrock of this posting activity, but to be sustainable you will also need to identify other sources of relevant 3rd party content that you use to augment your homegrown output. We talked about this, and the need to develop a content radar in this previous post. Brought together, content, email & social media can deliver truly joined-up and sustainable campaigns to promote and build your brand. If you would like to talk about how you could use these tools more effectively, we would love to talk to you.

Same Message, Different Media

Digital Marketing is all about content, and there are 2 things of which you can be certain:

  1. You can never have too much content
  2. Different people will consume content in different ways

If you accept this, then here is a way to kill both those birds. Here is a post I wrote a few weeks ago about how to build a valuable Twitter strategy: It received some nice feedback, and was well read. However some people don’t engage with a written article like this, so I have turned it into a “video”. Same message as the first post, just a different media. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIlYAUA_Om0 For those who are interested, I used a tool called Powtoon to create the video. If you are OK with you video being Powtoon Branded, its free to use!  

Front and Substance

smoke2E-consultancy posted an interview with Mark Wright the winner of the last apprentice series, and it got me thinking about Front and Substance when it comes to digital marketing, as I think that his business is no different from a lot of digital marketing agencies. In my view there are 2 aspects to marketing “Front” and “Substance”. Like many agencies Mark’s is big on the “Front”. As a salesman you would expect that, but if he is pitching himself alongside the likes of MOZ (interesting that he refereed to them as SEOMoz, a name they ditched quite a while ago!) he needs to have substance too, and his website does not demonstrate that. Nice design (front) but very little substance (2 blog posts on 4th March. I presume this was the date the site launched). Good digital marketing is about delivering engaging, sustainable content that communicates a consistent, message and then communicating it out using the available tools (Currenly social media, email etc). Too many agencies use front and a good sales patter to sell their services, but then struggle to follow up with the substance. Part of the issue is that the majority of digital marketing agencies fall into 2 categories. The first still have the old pre web mindset of campaigns & projects, they are basically designers and treat a website like a print job (Once it goes live, job done, move onto the next project). This is neat and easy to manage, but in reality it doesn’t deliver in the long term, and quickly becomes stale. The others focus totally on the techie side (SEO, Analytics etc) or are selling the next big thing, (SEO, Social Media, “Content Marketing” etc), these latter group tend to be focused very short term, and delivering leads now is their primary goal, again very valid in principal but to me this is primarily sales promotion rather than marketing, and in isolation, is hard to sustain, rarely delivers on the promises in the medium and ling term. Our approach is different, in that yes we agree that a professional looking website is important, as is effective use of the tools available and delivering leads, but marketing should be substantial, and be considered in the context of a long term strategy, It needs to be sustainable, and must have measurable goals in both the long and short term. In other words, marketing needs both Front & Substance in equal measure.