February 23, 2012, 1:27 PM

Dell writes a tale of two e-mails

An e-mail tailored for mobile phones produces better results.

Lead Photo

The successful e-mail campaign netted a five-fold increase in downloads of the shopping app.

Simple things can make a difference. That’s the lesson Dell Inc. validated when it tested a mobile phone-specific version of an e-mail promoting its new Dell iPhone app in October.

Dell wanted to promote the app, which followed by weeks the release of an Android version, so consumers would download the app appropriate for their smartphones. Dell, with the help of e-mail provider e-Dialog Inc., created two separate e-mails: one for customers using a desktop computer and the other for Dell customers known to have opened a recent Dell e-mail on an iPhone or Android smartphone.

The result was a five-fold increase in downloads of the apps the day the e-mails went out, says Kendra Williams, Dell e-mail marketing manager.

The desktop version was no different from prior Dell marketing e-mails, other than its message promoting the iPhone and Android apps. It was with the mobile version that Williams and e-Dialog made some adjustments. For example, to ensure the e-mail would present well on smaller smartphone screens, the e-mail was limited to a width of 328 pixels, compared with 728 pixels for the desktop version. The narrower the width of an e-mail, the less a smartphone has to shrink an e-mail to fit on its smaller screen.

The next major difference was the increased prominence of the Get the App call-to-action button in the mobile e-mail. “We wanted to have those buttons big so they were easy to touch with a thumb,” Williams says. In the mobile version, this button is pill-shaped with a blue background, next to an image of two smartphones. In the desktop version, the button has no background color and is less prominent.

Because smartphone users are accustomed to flicking the screen to scroll up or down, Dell placed three messages touting security, order tracking and ratings vertically beneath the hero shot in the mobile version. They run horizontally in the desktop version.

Other significant differences between the mobile and desktop versions include the removal of a navigation header for other Dell products present in the desktop version. Instead, that information was placed toward the bottom of the mobile version, with the text replaced with images of printers and computers.

The success of this campaign bodes well for Dell’s strategy. “As mobile becomes increasingly more used and more consumers open their e-mail on mobile devices, we’re planning a strategy for that,” Williams says.

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