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It’s a Mobile First World

Since the advent of the smartphone, and particularly the launch of the first iPhone in 2007, it was feasible to see a day when more consumers would access the internet from their mobile phones than their more traditional computers. The explosion of the mobile device market eventually led to a tipping point in 2018, where mobile did in fact become responsible for more internet traffic than ‘desktop’ machines. 52.2% in 2019, according to Statista. Not surprisingly, it isn’t just surfing the web that followed this trend. People also leverage mobile to access their email in even greater number (61% of U.S. email opens occurred on mobile as early as 2017, according to Adestra. We can officially say that it’s a mobile first world as we head deeper into 2019.

For years, marketers have known that they had to have a mobile marketing strategy, right along with their more traditional, desktop-based digital marketing program. But, it was typically desktop-first and mobile-second for most companies. But, now that the tipping point has been reached, it’s a legitimate thought for marketers to think about mobile as the primary screen and the desktop/laptop as secondary going forward. This has a huge impact on every type of marketing, since everything from banner ad sizes to email content needs to consider how it appears on every type of screen.

What does a Mobile First environment mean for marketers?

Email Marketing

With well over half of email users opening messages on their mobile devices, email marketers must initially adapt to the smaller screen size. This impacts everything from email design to the length of the copy and the form of the call to action. Most of us have received emails, that when opened on a mobile device don’t adapt to the screen size and then require zooming in and out, and LOTS of scrolling in order to read. This is a bad user experience that will almost certainly lead to lower conversion rates on an individual email campaign and if the practice continues over time, recipients may stop using their mobile device to open emails on from a particular company/sender whose emails consistently deliver a poor reader experience.

So, email marketers need to ensure their email design renders in a readable fashion on smaller screens and that the content doesn’t require an inordinate amount of scrolling. There is a long tradition of so-called long form emails driving excellent conversion rates and ROI in a number of industries. But, that often presupposes a desktop based user experience for email readers. These types of messages simply may not perform as well on mobile.

SMS Marketing

Text messaging has been around for over 20 years, predating the smartphone that truly launched the mobile marketing industry. As a marketing channel, SMS capitalizes on the immediacy of mobile marketing. It delivers extremely high open rates, as people typically check a text message when it arrives (98% of text messages are opened and 95% of those are opened in the first 90 seconds after receipt). This attention grabbing immediacy gives SMS marketing an advantage over just about any other channel. However, SMS comes with challenges, limitations, and a level of responsibility that also exceed many other channels.

Because a text message immediately grabs the recipient’s attention (unlike really any other channel besides telemarketing), if a recipient receives messages that they either don’t remember signing up for or that they find irrelevant, there is an immediate negative reaction. This negative perception can easily be transferred to the company/brand that is being promoted in the text message. So, marketers need to be judicious with the messages they send (frequency, timing, and content). Additionally, SMS is an opt-in based channel, where marketers are only able to legally send marketing text messages to recipients who have signed up to receive them. Like email, SMS marketers must make it easy for recipients to opt-out of future text messages. This means that SMS marketing also requires a suppression list management solution, similar to email marketing.

An additional challenge for SMS marketers is that they need to deliver their message in a short amount of text, with no graphics or other design elements. It’s really all about the words and their ability to connect with recipients and hopefully drive an action (other than a request to stop sending text messages).

It will be interesting to see how mobile’s status as the preferred screen will impact marketing strategy in 2019 and beyond, but it’s safe to say that marketers will find ways to adapt their plans to a mobile first world.

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