Design for Mobile and Fine Tune Your Approval Process, Email Report Says

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"If I had to decide today on one platform to design for, with all the disruptions, it would be the phone." That's from a talk that Mario Garcia, adjunct professor, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and CEO, Garcia Media, gave recently at the famed Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla. SIPA is very pleased to bring Garcia back to Florida for a Tuesday morning keynote at our Business Information & Media Summit (BIMS), Nov. 11-13 in Hollywood, Fla.

Garcia's words particularly resonate when looking at Litmus's 2019 State of Email report. In December 2018, 43% of all emails were opened on mobile devices. That compares to 39% opened in webmail and 18% in desktop applications. We have to believe that many people are quickly going through emails on their mobile device to determine what to keep and what to delete. The initial impression has to be strong and that's where design and content enter in.

Here are more takeaways from the State of Email report:

Have you been interactive today? Interactivity may be the buzzword for 2019. According to Litmus, there will be more completing surveys, making purchases, and filling out forms without leaving the email. Last year, Google made headlines with its AMP for Email initiative, trying to bring to email the same technology they're using to speed up mobile pages. Reducing the number of clicks and opens customers have to go through to make purchases, subscribe, sign up for webinars and fill out surveys would be a huge step forward.

Get those flash briefings ready. How will your emails sound on a smart speaker? Pretty soon Alexa and company may help decide what people delete from their inbox. Companies big and small are already starting to make flash briefings available for people's morning Alexa. Deloitte Global predicts 250 million smart speakers will be installed worldwide by the end of 2019. Amazon's Echo can now read your emails, mistakes and all.

Establish a better email review and approval process. Marketers who say their email programs are successful spend more time on every stage of

email creation except for the email review and approval stage than marketers who describe their programs as average or unsuccessful. "A lax review process can result in more email errors, but an onerous process has its costs, too." Marketers spend an average 3.9 hours getting emails reviewed and approved before launch, and they work with an average 2.4 other departments to get emails reviewed. Litmus also recommends to avoid sending emails on the same day you get the approval. "Let the email rest a day or so. Sending an email campaign after a hurried approval is a recipe for disaster."

Don't be afraid to make a mistake. "Just make sure that you have good visibility into QA and performance so you'll be able to recognize your mistakes when you make them [and make amends]," Litmus writes. Half of B2B marketers sent at least one apology email in the past year, but that means they are monitoring emails closely and become aware when something goes awry. I loved that story that Simone Bunsen of Chief Executive Group told me. They sent a personalized marketing email but messed up slightly—sending the wrong information for one group of names. "We immediately realized our mistake [sign of a good company, Litmus says] and decided to send out a corrected version of the email, apologizing..." Their subject line started with "Oops..." and then offered $100 off registration for an upcoming event. It did really well.

Improve measurement of email results to monitor success and justify resource and staffing requests. Only 30% of brands say they can measure their ROI well. "The consequence for brands that are less adept at measuring ROI is that not only are they leaving more money on the table, they also can't see that they're doing it. The solution is to have better processes that account for email's impact on the bottom line, whether through higher revenue or reduced costs."

Get ready. GDPR could mean more privacy laws here. The European Union's General Data Protection Regulation, which went into effect in 2018, has inspired similar and sometimes stricter laws in non-EU countries. Expect to see a similar move at the federal level in the United States, writes Litmus. Data collection practices and security breaches spurred the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which will significantly strengthen privacy there when it goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.


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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…