The Future of Email Follow-up… plan for change

email-follow-up

In an earlier blog post (International Student Lead Generation Marketing) we discussed the importance of a thorough follow-up plan when using lead generation as a student recruitment tool. Building on the same theme, in this post we will provide you with some hints with regards to email follow-up best practices and email trends specifically.

Email often become the default vehicle for lead follow-up because (often to its own detriment) it is extremely affordable, fast, and versatile.  Unfortunately it is not uncommon for organizations to allocate little time for email development and deployment… especially when compared to the amount of time many would have spent developing (not to mention the cost associated with printing and mailing) a direct mail package serving the same function just a few years ago.

A recent Return Path Report study showed clearly that while mobile still represents the smallest piece of the email pie, it is growing aggressively and cannot not be ignored. In fact, data shows emails opened on mobile devices increased by 34% between April 2011 and September 2001 when compared to the previous six-month period. For the average organization using email to reach leads, this trend means that mobile optimized email design and content are no longer “nice to have” but crucial.

While the email industry is still differentiating between webmail (emails viewed within an environment such as Yahoo, Hotmail, or Gmail on a computer), desktop mail (emails viewed through software installed on a computer, like Outlook and Thunderbird) and mobile mail, this will not be the case for much longer. The medium is the medium! You know how anyone born after 1981 looks at you funny when you talk about cable vs. broadcast (“It’s just TV!”)? Pretty soon the same will be said for trying to differentiate between mobile and email. Today’s users are “always on” when it comes to email, and they expect you to be too – especially true when you are trying to reach Millennials. For example, did you know that 83% of Millennials sleep with their smart phone?

To utilize email successfully as part of your overall lead generation marketing strategy ensure to:

  1. Place the main message of your subject line within the first 15 characters – on many mobile clients that is all they’re going to see.
  1. Use a simple, stacked layout as opposed to a multi-column layout.
  1. Keep the email template width to 600px or less.
  1. Use a font size of 14pts or higher for body copy and double that for headers. Many mobile devices will automatically resize font smaller than 12pts – causing text to wrap and designs to break.
  1. Make buttons and links big and “clickable.” While a mouse pointer is a precision instrument, with a click area of just 1 x 1 pixel, a human finger is more of a sledge hammer.  Apple recommends clickable areas of 44px.

In addition, most of the best practices for regular email design still apply. Keep the copy to a minimum, use images wisely, balance images with plain text, use alt text, and include a plain-text version.  And as always when discussing online marketing – change is the new status quo so be prepared and plan to change your plan!

 

Sources: Return Path Report (http://www.returnpath.com) and Pew Research Center 2010 (http://www.pewsocialtrends.org)

*Future of Email Marketing photo courtesy of Shutterstock

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