Marketers need to mobile-optimize email campaigns: Unica

Len Shneyder

Len Shneyder

Marketers that do not mobile-optimize their email campaigns risk alienating their consumers with a frustrating experience, according to a Unica executive.

Mobile Marketer’s Peter Finocchiaro interviewed Len Shneyder, product marketing director at Unica, Waltham, MA. Here is what he had to say:

What is Unica doing in the mobile space?
Unica is committed to providing marketers with the critical tools necessary to optimize the last mile of the delivery process.

Our mobile rendering tools allow marketers to design compelling emails that will render properly across all major mobile platforms, QA the links and images, verify their code is compliant with the HTML coding standards and visually confirm that customers will read the intended communication, thereby ensuring the integrity of their brands.

In addition to helping marketers craft better emails through our market-leading technologies, Unica’s MailboxIQ is the first to empower marketers with the necessary information to quickly identify their mobile audience and deliver content that is optimized for their mobile handsets.

By knowing who is reading emails on a mobile device (as well as when), it is possible to create highly targeted communications that take advantage of the new generation of rich media mobile handsets through smaller and more concise messages—by taking into consideration that users reading email on mobile devices may be on-the-go and have less time to spend on any single email.

Knowing who is reading your email and where means that you can adjust your templates to meet the needs of the device and the consumer, which lead to more fulfilling dialogues between marketers and customers.

Both email and mobile are targeted, highly personal channels of communication and marketing, and permission-based: are mobile and email a natural fit?
Yes, based on several studies consumers are increasingly using mobile devices at home in a leisurely manner.

The sale of mobile devices that are enabled with email is outpacing the sale of laptops.

With the release of platforms such as the iPad, mobile technology is becoming ever more integrated with the day-to-day habits of end users and creating a casual space in which they can interact with rich media on the Internet.

Email is a natural extension of mobile technology as it affords people a longer, more verbose form of communication than SMS.

These studies have seen that consumers are reading the same message across multiple email clients. An email may first be viewed on a mobile device but the transaction will come from the user’s desktop email client.

The challenge for an email is to be equally as compelling and optimized for multiple email clients: mobile, Web and desktop.

How does Unica tie together mobile and email?
By empowering marketers with email rendering services to optimize email for cross platform communications, marketers can create a single communication that will work just as well on a mobile device, a desktop email client or when viewed in a web client such as Gmail or Yahoo.

This cross-channel optimization is critical in order to meet the expectations of today’s consumers that interact with email through multiple channels and devices.

Is the emphasis on SMS, or beyond?
SMS is a powerful channel but it requires the use of a short code, a longer lead time to set up, and it costs both the marketer and the recipient in terms of fees.

Email on the other hand is free. A customer with a mobile device can easily view the same email on their desktop, laptop, web and mobile device.

What are some examples of Unica work in the mobile space?
Our eDesign Optimizer is a key example of our work and the proceduralized QA flow to ensure the message and brand integrity by allowing marketers to see exactly what their users will read across mobile, web and desktop email clients.

MailboxIQ technology gives marketers a critical view of their overall user population by allowing them to see who is reading their emails on what kind of device, sharing them to social networks that are being sustained and consumed through mobile platforms and a wealth of other information that furthers the refinement of mobile campaigns.

Which client categories are ideal for the email/mobile integration?
That question is best answered on a case-by-case basis.

Marketers should leverage their Web analytics to understand who is viewing their Web sites on mobile devices in order to ascertain their potential mobile population.

Once you determine you have a significant mobile readership through Web analytics, then marketers can invest in mobile email, perhaps an application or other mobile campaigns.

How will you sell your mobile services to clients? What advantage do you have over purely mobile service providers?
Unica’s mobile technology is a critical component of any winning mobile strategy, as it takes the guesswork out of determining if an email will render properly on a mobile device.

No more huddling in the center of the office trying to find someone with a particular handset in order to see how the native client renders a mobile email, it all resides under one umbrella with other “can’t live without” tools and technology.

What about mobile email – are you working to resolve image rendition issues plaguing emails on phones such as the BlackBerry and Nokia models?
The lack of image support on devices such as BlackBerrys is beyond the scope of any company. This is a feature/business decision on the part of the manufacturer.

Unica helps marketers understand the limitations and designs email that, when rendered on devices that don’t support images and HTML, will at least have a chance at being readable by keeping their links as short as possible, understanding how the HTML is stripped and how links are formatted in order to be rendered to give them the best chance at a click—and ultimately a conversion.

Why isn’t there more of an emphasis on mobile email?
People seem to take for granted that mobile email will simply work. Marketers have to understand that although the new generation of mobile platforms is rich and has great rendering capabilities, it is not without its nuance and issues.

Additionally, many marketers are not yet aware of how many of their users are reading email on mobile devices. They are not taking advantage of the rich platform and targeting the audience with customized communications.

There are some holdouts among email companies embracing mobile – why?
I am not so sure about that.

I think that companies are doing it in different ways as the technology is in flux and evolving. Mobile hasn’t been around that long. It is essentially in its infancy.

Considering the adoption of email among consumers and the explosive growth of companies like Apple into the mobile space, we can say that mobile is not growing slowly but at an eruptive clip.

Even Yahoo made a conscious decision not to charge for Pop on a mobile device.

If you are popping email from http://m.yahoo.com you get it for free, but if you wanted to set up a pop account on an outlook client you would have to pay.

That is clear and intentional support of the mobile channel.

What do email companies have to offer that brands and agencies can’t get from other mobile-only service providers?
I think consumers would be wise to work with both companies as they will help round out the picture. Mobile-only agencies will miss the bigger picture of how email is an extension of mobile and perhaps the connection of email to social.

However a pure email company may not have the resources to really enable a truly robust app in mobile so marketers need both email experts and agency mobile expertise to create a balanced and email offer across the entire spectrum of mobile, social and email channels.

Peter Finocchiaro reported for this story

Giselle Tsirulnik is deputy managing editor on Mobile Marketer and Mobile Commerce Daily. Reach her at giselle@mobilemarketer.com.