3 Ways to Reach People on Their Smartphones

October 2021
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You’ve read the numbers:

• American professionals receive an average of 121 emails a day (The Radicati Group).

• That’s per inbox. Now multiply that by the several personal email accounts people tend to have in addition to a primary work account (Nielsen Norman Group).

• No wonder 68% of those emails aren’t getting opened. An average of 276 emails languish unread in inboxes at any given time (NNG). That’s an increase of 300% in just four years.

Want to get opened? Address “the envelope.” That’s the four elements recipients use to determine whether to open — or delete — your emails:

  • From line
  • Subject line
  • Preheader
  • Preview pane

Note: If you’re only addressing the subject line, then you’re ignoring 75% of the elements that get people to open your message.

Here are three other ways to overcome the obstacles of reaching email recipients:

1. Reach readers on mobile.

Seven percent of subscribers read your email newsletter in the bathroom (NNG). The other 93% are lying.

Indeed, two-thirds of email recipients open your email on their smartphones, not their laptops (Adestra). 

Problem is, reading your email newsletter on the small screen is like reading “War and Peace” through a keyhole. It’s not easy to get the word out on a 3-inch-by-6-inch rectangle. When reading emails on mobile, recipients:

  • Click 40% less often (Mailchimp). They also click on fewer links. There go your click-through rates. 
  • Find it 48% harder to understand content (R.I. Singh, et al., University of Alberta). 
  • Become more likely to unsubscribe. If your message doesn’t work on smartphones, then say goodbye to prospects. More than half of consumers have unsubscribed from a brand’s promotional emails because they didn’t work well on mobile (Litmus). 

Want to get your email message across on the small screen? Boost readability by reducing paragraph length, sentence length and word length and eliminating passive voice.

2. Remember: They’re just not that into you.

What’s the No. 1 reason email newsletter subscribers unsubscribe? 

Because you talk about yourself too much, and not enough about them. Two-thirds of recipients quit brand emails for this reason (#LyrisROI).

Some 74% find you irritating because you don’t give them the targeted information they want (Janrain).

And, if you bore subscribers, then they’ll report you as a spammer. Spam no longer means just unsolicited email (NNG). It also includes emails recipients did sign up for — but which now strike them as irrelevant, impersonal or too frequent.

Want to make it through the mind filter? Focus your email message on news recipients can use to live their lives better — not on us and our stuff.

3. Respect their time.

Recipients spend an average of just 11 seconds on each email they review (NNG). That’s enough time to read about 37 words.

That means recipients are skimming, not reading: People skim 69% of their email newsletters; they read only 19%. (That’s the good news: On mobile, they skim 74% of their email newsletters.) 

How do you reach the three-quarters of mobile subscribers who don’t read your paragraphs? Lift ideas off the screen with display copy. Embed your key messages in headlines, decks, subheads, bulleted lists, links, boldface lead-ins and highlighted key words. 

Reaching email recipients goes far beyond just pressing Send. To get your emails opened, read, clicked and shared, think inside the inbox. Understand subscribers' attitudes and behavior to reach recipients on mobile. 

Copyright © 2021 Ann Wylie. All rights reserved. 

Inside the Outbox

Would you like to learn more techniques for reaching email recipients and subscribers? If so, then join PRSA and Ann Wylie at Inside the Inbox, our mobile-email-writing workshop, starting Nov. 15. Save $100 with coupon code PRSA21. APRs: Earn 4 Accreditation renewal credits.

Return to Current Issue Inspiring Innovation | October 2021
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