The e-retailer spends at least 50% of its monthly display ad budget on the highly targeted, data-driven—and often cheap—ad placements using programmatic platforms.
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Adams adds that it's important to ensure a mobile e-mail's pre-header text is clear and prominent. Pre-header text is a line or two of copy that appears in a small font displayed at the very top of an e-mail.
Mobile experts say for mobile devices the best use of pre-header text is to include a link to a mobile web page that displays the full e-mail. This is for smartphone users who may have "images off" as a default setting on their e-mail program. With images off, an e-mail does not fully render. The default setting for iPhones is images on; the default setting for many Android phones is images off.
Radio Shack had two lines of pre-header text in a recent e-mail. The first was, "Free phones with upgrade 2-year plan." The second read, "Having trouble viewing this e-mail? Click here." Both linked to the e-mail fully rendered on a mobile web page.
Another element retailers have to consider is where the consumer is going to go when she touches a button or link. Those destination pages better be mobile-optimized.
Both REI and Radio Shack have mobile commerce web sites to which they link their mobile e-mails opened on smartphones. A mobile-optimized landing page—and beyond—is key to successful e-mail campaigns, experts say.
"Very few things are more frustrating for mobile users than a poor mobile web experience," says Yeomans of Responsys. "Make each action you're asking them to take simple."
The cost to optimize e-mails for mobile devices is nominal, says Katherine Bellmore, manager of direct marketing at REI. She declines to reveal the exact cost. Web and mobile marketing firm Knotice says it currently is redesigning a client's e-mail marketing templates using responsive design techniques and is charging the client a one-time fee of $5,000.
Optimization is paying off for REI, Bellmore says.
"There's no question that it's the right thing to do for our customers—we want to make it easy for them to interact with REI no matter what device they use or where they are at," she says. "And we see the benefit from the increased interaction and conversion that we see from the responsive campaigns."