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Mobile e-mail: Consider strategy now

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Business mobile e-mail is expanding at a dramatic pace—the number of subscribers worldwide will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 36.5% through 2014, according to IDC—and that growth has significant implications for e-mail marketers. Currently, 20% of all mobile phones are smartphones, and IDC forecasts smartphone shipments will grow 55.4% this year. Marketers should be paying particular attention to touch-screen smartphones—such as the Apple iPhone, Palm Pre and Motorola Droid—and how such devices will change the way users read e-mails, said Jeanniey Mullen, global CMO at digital magazine service provider Zinio and executive director of the Email Experience Council. “When you can touch your e-mails and move them around, that will have a significant impact on the ease and access to messages that we have,” Mullen said. “Imagine your IBM newsletter that's split into three sections came through and you really thought the first section was the most important. Imagine when you can drag that first section to the top and put in a request that all future e-mails have that section on the top.” Also, if Apple adds its FaceTime video chat to the iPad—a move expected in the coming months—the door opens for marketers to include video chats in e-mail, Mullen said. By 2012, she predicted, large b-to-b companies will be switching over from laptops to tablet computers, most of which will be touch-enabled and built for mobile access. Determining how to reach mobile readers will be the No. 1 area of focus for e-mail marketers, she said. “I feel like the crazy person that stands on the street yelling "The end is near!' ” she said. “But if you're not building for a mobile strategy, you're going to find yourself in a really bad position pretty quickly as we move into 2011.”—M.E.M.
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