The challenge of ‘mobile triage'

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No one can say an e-mail marketer's job is boring. After all, with so many businesspeople accessing their e-mail on mobile devices these days, the inbox is literally a moving target.

“Mobile triage is a real challenge for marketers,” said Simms Jenkins, CEO of BrightWave Marketing and “For many people, the first time they see an e-mail is going to be on a BlackBerry or an iPhone, probably in a meeting, which means you're going to get about four seconds of their attention before they decide if they'll delete it or read it later back at their desk.”

Jenkins offered these tips to increase your chances of reaching your mobile recipients:

  • Devote time and careful consideration to both subject lines and “from” lines—the two most important things that determine whether somebody is going to open and read your message or delete it. “We've seen and heard from a lot of people that the subject line is written in at the last minute,” he said.
  • Use your brand in the “from” line, rather than the name of a person that recipients likely won't recognize. “A significant percentage of e-mails that we see are from John Smith, director of PR, or marketing or sales,” he said. “Unless you're Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, people aren't going to know anyone on your corporate team. It should almost always be the brand because that's what they signed up for.”
  • Make your point—the payoff—very high in the e-mail. “A lot of b-to-b e-mails are done in traditional direct marketing form—four paragraphs getting to the payoff and then the fifth graf is “Click here for a special offer,' “ he said. “People in the mobile world aren't going to get that far.”
  • Use e-mail to get recipients' attention and then move them somewhere else. “Too many people try to do everything from get your attention to close the deal in their e-mails,” he said. “E-mail for the most part should be about driving you to the Web site, the phone, a sales rep or an offline location where you're going to find out more information and where the conversion will take place.”
  • Provide a link so the recipient can read a Web version of your message. That way, if the e-mail doesn't render properly on their mobile device, they can open it in their Web browser.
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