Santa may have left a lot of tablets under Christmas trees last December, and for marketers, that could mean unwrapping a new opportunity.
Email marketing to tablets are poised to become very important to credit unions and other financial institutions this year, said Chad White, research director at Responsys, a San Bruno, Calif.-based provider of email and cross channel marketing solutions. He cited figures from JP Morgan that projected worldwide tablet shipments will reach 99.3 million this year, a 55.2% increase over 2011.
It’s not just that more potential buyers are tablet carriers, White surmised. They offer email conversion rates five times higher than smartphones, according to Shopatron, an eCommerce tracking firm.
“Tablets are a platform that allows for much deeper interaction than smartphones,” White said. “While everyone has been beating the drum about the importance of mobile, tablets appear to be the most important mobile device right now.”
He also believes marketers need to consider several points when preparing copy for tablets. For starters, design accommodations aren’t nearly as dramatic as they are for smartphones. But there are three main adjustments marketers need to keep in mind.
White recommends lightening up email file sizes because mobile and Wi-Fi Internet speeds are slower than landline connections. Second, although table screens aren’t as small as smartphones, they aren’t as large as desktop and laptop screens, so there’s less space for email copy. Pare information down as much as possible, perhaps just to a headline and call to action, he suggested.
Third, White said increasing the size and padding of text link and button calls to action. When pressed against a screen, a finger covers 45 pixels. During a light, precise tap it can target a 30-pixel area accurately. Make sure your calls to action are padded at least 10 to 15 pixels to avoiding frustrating tap errors, he offered.
Few navigation bars are optimized for touch and many marketers use recovery modules, quick link boxes, tables of contents, and other content blocks that include lists to links close together, White said, adding, that will need to change.
As for content, editorial and community-sourced content are becoming more important to all digital messaging – email, mobile and social, White said. “Buy, buy, buy” is a message that’s losing its power and being replaced by learn, engage, buy, he has noticed. Brands are expected to educate their customers and enable community sharing as well as sell products.
“It’s also important to remember that engagement happens across all channels, so planning the customer experience across multiple platforms and multiple screen sizes is increasingly critical.”
At the same time, marketers face some tough decisions about which social media they will use, according to Dave Walters, product evangelist at Responsys. That’s particularly true for smaller businesses lacking the budgets to appear on the growing list of options.
“Two or three years ago there were a limited number of social networks. Now the number has exploded,” Walters said. “That, combined with the general downsizing of resources because of the economy, means most marketers are looking at the field of play more critically than they were a couple years ago and are trying to figure out the right place to expend their energy.”
Walters said a good example of that is Google+, which is a relatively new social network. It has gained traction quite quickly, but for credit unions and others, it is probably now at the tipping point where something like Facebook would have a clear overlap with their customer base.
Geography poses another consideration, Walters explained. People in Iowa, for example, may not be into social networks to the extent seen in San Francisco or New York. He believes social networks will become smaller and more tightly targeted, like cable television.
So, how is a marketer to sort through the options?
“I think you have to sit back and think hard about where your customers or members are. If you’re a credit union with a limited field of membership, and you can only market your services to employees of a particular company, your situation may be very different from that of a credit union with a broad field of membership,” Walters said.
Some of the biggest brands in the financial services marketplace are starting to use Twitter and Facebook as alternate channels for customer support, he pointed out.
Walters urges marketers to leverage specific data points, such as items left in an e-commerce cart or abandoned forms. In the case of a credit union with an online membership application, for example, the marketing staff will want to be alerted if potential members are abandoning the form at a particular point. Then, ask why this may be happening. Is that point unclear? Do the applicants consider it too intrusive?
“Two, three or four years ago the mentality was to get all the information up front at once so I can kind of grade you and figure out what I want to do with you. The smartest marketers are reducing their initial barriers in order to get somebody to sign up for something with relatively low effort, get them into the program as it were, and continue to market other products and services,” Walters said.
The important thing about email is that it can certainly be done in a very manual kind of way, he acknowledged.
“Marketers can set up programs and do things in a way that makes them look a lot larger than they are,” Walters said. “Even for small marketing departments in segments like credit unions, there is an opportunity to beef up their strategy without having to add something to somebody’s plate that already has a lot to accomplish.”