If email has changed; is it time to go mobile?

Saturday, October 5th, 2013


I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but email has changed quite dramatically in the last couple of years. For many of us using it for email marketing or sales it just doesn’t work as well as before. There are at least three reasons for this: 1) everyone woke up to the opportunity and started using email newsletters for marketing; 2) companies like Google have started creating tools to shield users from marketing emails; 3) people are moving to mobile, where our marketing emails are often irrelevant.

There’s not a day I don’t unsubscribe to at least a newsletter I don’t remember signing up for. Email marketing has exploded in popularity, and my already overcrowded inbox has become unmanageable. Google came to the rescue in May, and started automatically organizing their Gmail users’ email in tabs. Now your automated emails are treated as a second-class citizen and hidden from sight in a “Promotions” tab. The result? MailChimp, one of the largest email newsletter companies out there, measured Gmail’s new feature alone accounts for a decrease of 25% in “email open” rates.

That’s only the latest change. The transition from PCs to smartphones and tablets has been fast and steady in the last 5 years. In 2012, phones outsold PCs 5:1, and next year the ratio is expected to reach 8:1. But how does mobile affect email? Assuming you have optimized your emails and newsletters to be displayed on a mobile device (if you haven’t your email content will look so tiny it will be unreadable), chances are when your customers click on your emails they land on a desktop-sized website. The result? They just close their browser and tap away. To give you some sense of the numbers: 29% of emails today are opened on smartphones, 12% on tablets (that’s a 41% total, see this report for more).

So what’s left to do in a world where email doesn’t work as well as before, and mobile is taking over PCs?

You have probably heard of content marketing. The idea behind it is that by creating and sharing valuable content and information you can position yourself and your company as experts in your field, create strong and valuable relationships with your customers and, ultimately, sell more. Recent stats hint at content marketing taking the lead as 2013’s hottest marketing trend.

What do you need to start using content marketing?

1) Create a blog. This is quite easy, and can be done with open-source software like WordPress.org, to be installed on your own server space, which you can get from the likes of GoDaddy.com.

2) Start creating content, anything from interesting articles, investing or first-buyer tips, to alerts on new properties.

Add a mobile app to your content strategy, and you get a channel to deliver your content straight to your users’ phones and tablets, in a much more effective way than email.

Why a mobile app? Mobile users spend 80% of their time inside apps – this figure alone shows a clear preference for apps versus using the browser. If users are going to access your content frequently then an app makes sense. Apps offer a faster, better user experience, encourage repeat visits and can drive conversions. App users are simply more engaged.

By getting your clients to download your app on their smartphones, you’ll get an opportunity to alert them with push notifications whenever you publish something new on your blog. Push messages are front and center on your client’s home screens, rather than buried in a crowded inbox. With a 10x greater average open rate than email (figures from push notifications company Urban Airship), you can be confident your clients receive your messages and stay engaged.

On your app, your content is optimised for mobile, so you don’t have to worry about images not being displayed by email clients. With your blog and a mobile app, you can create any rich media content, including photos and video and broadcast it to all your app users.

With your own blog and mobile app, your clients can share your content with their friends using networks like Twitter or Facebook or email, directly from your app. Your articles, links and property alerts then are spread in the form of a link to your blog.

If you don’t have one already, you should also create an email newsletter using MailChimp or Aweber. Your email subscribers can then receive your blog posts automatically. Some users still prefer email to other channels, you need to cover them too.

How do you promote your new blog and app? Using social media of course! Create accounts on all social networks, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and start following and befriending professionals, thought leaders in your industry and, naturally, your clients. Share links to the content you publish, like and retweet content created by others, help your audience find interesting content that can help them in their property search. You’ll soon start accumulating followers and traffic to your site will grow steadily.

As email clients get smarter and people move to mobile, you’ll have to work harder to get people’s attention. At the same time, for those that are willing to put in the extra work, there’s an opportunity to increase your reach and network, rise above the crowd and ultimately close more deals by creating your own content and delivering it online using a combination of blogging, email newsletters and your own mobile app.

Comments are closed.