Courtney Eckerle

Mobile Marketing: 7 tips based on CNET’s mobile newsletters

February 14th, 2013

The MarketingSherpa Mobile Marketing Benchmark Report shows a staggering 55% of marketers reported lacking an effective mobile marketing strategy, as well as not having adequate staffing, resources and expertise.

With MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2013 quickly approaching, speaker Diana Primeau, Director of Member Services, CNET – who will be presenting a session on win-back campaigns and list cleansing at the event – has insight to offer on this topic to fill in the knowledge gaps when it comes to developing an effective mobile newsletter strategy.

Diana said she knows many marketers become overwhelmed when upper management demands “mobile” without understanding the time and work that goes into it.

“It is not a little magic wand … because if it was really easy, every single email we look at today would work well on mobile,” she said.


Tip #1. Know what your audience expects

Mobile newsletters take quite a bit of planning, Diana said, and the most important question to ask is: “Who are you going to design for?”

Knowing your audience will allow you to not only understand what their expectations of you are, but what types of devices the majority of them use, and how often they interact with your emails on their  device.

The MarketingSherpa Mobile Marketing Benchmark Report also shows 31% of marketers don’t know their mobile email open rate – start by determining what that rate is, and become better acquainted with the needs of your audience.

“Who is your audience and what do we need?”  Diana asked. “If somebody has a business that requires them to have certain attributes in their emails, what are those attributes and will they work on a mobile platform?”


Tip #2. Consumers expect a multi-device experience

Like most aspects of marketing, mobile newsletters are not something you can wash your hands of once it’s accomplished – it is a constantly evolving process where your customers will always want more.

With mobile, Diana said, “Our customers are just like everybody else’s customer,” meaning every aspect of an average customer’s day from dawn to dusk is filled with multiple devices, and they expect their emails to reflect that.

“They might be commuting to work and they are on their phone, and they might be sitting at their office and they might be on their desktops. They might be going to meetings and they might have their tablet with them, and they might be sitting at home and they have their tablets or … their phone with them,” she said.

Knowing how your customer spends their day will help you develop your mobile email program, and decide how expansive you need to be.

Diana knows with CNET customers, “the idea of being able to move from device to device is an expectation, not something that is like, ‘Oh wow, that is really cool.’  It is expected and we know our customers look at their email across multiple devices.”

Tip #3. Provide a consistent experience

Diana said many marketers take the approach of giving newsletter subscribers the option to receive either a mobile newsletter or the regularly formatted newsletter, but in her opinion, this is a mistake.

“Because people view across multiple devices, it doesn’t make sense to me,” she said, adding users shouldn’t have to be concerned about which device they will have to view your email on.

“It should just work,” said Diana, including the transition from email link to mobile website because every level of the email must be a part of providing “a continuous mobile experience.”

Users should have a very high bar for their mobile experience with you, meaning that “if it works really well on Monday … next Monday, it should be a similar experience or a better experience,” she said.

Providing a consistent experience doesn’t have to be difficult, Diana said, because mobile generally works best with a simple set-up.


Tip #4. Keep it simple

If the goal is to have subscribers click and go to a landing page, “it can be simple and elegant at the same time,” she said.

Many newsletters are heavy with graphics and images, Diana said, but those don’t necessarily translate very well into the mobile newsletter experience.

“You have got these big, beautiful headers that span 600 or 800 pixels … and then you have to figure out how to make that work for mobile,” she said, adding it is necessary for mobile newsletters to “take a step back and look at things holistically.”


Tip #5. Leverage people’s expertise

Having someone on your team who is knowledgeable about mobile is key because “a lot of folks think that you can just take what you’re doing on the Web and apply it to mobile,” Diana said.

However, she said, there are a few problems with that.

Responsive coding doesn’t work well for a lot of the email clients, and a lot of the email clients don’t use things like CSS …  I think it really helps to have somebody with some knowledge.”


Tip #6. Don’t try to do everything at once – mobile takes time

Diana said CNET started off “not trying to do everything at once,” and moved forward from users being able to look at its emails on their phone, “and have to have that really horrible scrolling experience” where its newsletter formats were not built for email, and slowly built up to the program they have today.

“Now, when users look at their content on iOS or Android native apps, the experience is that … it resizes,” she said.

By moving forward slowly, they are able to focus on certain design elements and develop best practices. For instance, Diana said they decided to take a “two-column approach in the way that we have designed our emails.”


Tip #7. Be able to recreate over and over

“I am a firm believer in creating something that is scalable, creating best practices and something that … you can use it over and over again as opposed to each time being a one-off,” Diana concluded.


Related Resources:

Download a free excerpt of the MarketingSherpa 2013 Mobile Marketing Benchmark Report

Mobile Marketing: 6 mobile marketing challenges every marketer faces

Mobile Marketing: 31% of marketers don’t know their mobile email open rate

Mobile Email Marketing: 53% higher clickthrough rate for mobile-optimized newsletter

Marketing Research Chart: Optimization of mobile efforts

Email Marketing How-to: 5 steps to improve your email newsletter

Webinar Replay — Top Strategies for Integrating Email with Mobile and Social 

Courtney Eckerle

About Courtney Eckerle

With a focus on aspirational, customer-first marketing, Courtney’s goal has been to produce clear, interesting and actionable external content for MarketingSherpa readers. This has included writing over 300 case studies, moderating live event interviews, and producing video content. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, Mass Communications and Film Studies from Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Ind., and was a correspondent for USA Today College prior to joining MECLABS Institute.

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