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How can b-to-b marketers adjust their email strategies and execution techniques to account for smartphone users?

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With the incredible adoption of smartphones by businesses—to the tune of 174 million units shipped worldwide in 2011, according to Strategy Analytics—b-to-b marketers need to spend more time focused on their mobile marketing strategies, particularly as b-to-b mobile email open rates are among the lowest as compared to other industries. Mobile-enabled emails cannot be smaller versions of standard communications and still be effective; marketers must understand the nuances of the mobile audience, then tailor campaigns accordingly. Here are five important points to consider when “mobilizing” your email:
  1. Readability. Emails should be easily readable on a smartphone. However, since most emails contain links and offers, you must ensure that your destination pages are mobile-optimized. Nothing is more frustrating to your reader than clicking through a link and ending up at a standard Web page form. The typical result is abandonment and brand erosion.
  2. Timing. You probably have tested for and identified the best time to send emails for optimal open/click-through rates; but, as mobile becomes ubiquitous, you might see those rates fall. Why? Because many business users don't open discretionary mail on their phones at the same time or in the same way that they do on their office computers. You might find that you have better success during off-hours when mobile users have the time to go through their inboxes. Test continually to determine optimal times for mobile or “blended” campaigns.
  3. Content. Having unique, relevant content is more important than ever now that users are being bombarded by the same message in multiple platforms. If you are sending excessive/irrelevant/redundant content and the user has to deal with it on his or her PC, tablet and smartphone, you're much more likely to get the death penalty ... aka, the “unsubscribe list.” While generating new, fresh content can be challenging, it's important to keep your audience engaged across all channels. Think about utilizing the features of a smartphone (e.g., ability to capture QR codes) to your advantage.
  4. Analysis. Do you know which customers are coming in on mobile devices? If not, you should. For one client, we found its cross-platform visitors—those that viewed content from both a PC and at least one mobile device—were twice as engaged (and thus more valuable) as their single-channel counterparts. This intelligence allowed us to adjust how and where we spent precious marketing dollars.
  5. Testing and optimization. If you do nothing else, heed this advice; it's much more critical in a mobile-enabled world. Plan to test everything—platforms and devices, content, cadence, timing—and continually optimize based on your results.
Mobile doesn't have to be daunting, nor do you have to settle for suboptimal open rates on your email communications. Think mobile with every campaign you develop and every communication you send out. Your customers will thank you by opening and responding to your email, thus leading to better, more productive dialogues. Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek is VP-client acquisition and marketing at Quaero, a marketing solutions provider.
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