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The Mobile Impact on Email Attention Spans

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It's been said that goldfish have a 9-second attention span -- modern consumers only have an 8-second attention span...

The rise of digital marketing has made it increasingly difficult for brands to earn the attention of today’s consumers. With so much noise in the marketplace and no bounds to the amount of information consumers are able to access at whim, marketers are continuing to fight the ongoing battle that is the consumer attention span.

So how do you increase the email attention spans of your audience?

The onslaught of digital and social channels that have surfaced in recent years has drastically lessened our tolerance for advertisements. DVR has made it possible for us to watch our favorite shows without having to sit through 15 minutes of commercials, ad blocking has enabled us to use the Internet without being littered with irrelevant advertisements, and music streaming platforms have allowed us to listen to music without disruptive and redundant ad spots. Although this marketplace shift undoubtedly benefits the consumer, it has left many marketers wondering how to run an effective email marketing campaign.

However, a recent study shows that good news is on the horizon for digital marketers. According to an analysis performed by Litmus Email Analytics, the average time recipients spent reading emails has actually increased 7%, to 11.1 seconds, between 2011 and 2016. Meaning, email marketing -- one of the most underestimated forms of marketing -- is now the primary method of reaching and engaging consumers.

‘The Mobile Impact’

This trend is the exact opposite of what you’d expect to see given the hyper-connected and distracted nature of today’s consumers. Nevertheless, mobile has been the driving force behind a 16% increase in time spent reading emails over the past six years. How you ask? The answer to that can be attributed to three different sources; email domain providers, content marketers, and consumers.

1. Email Domain Providers
With mobile representing 54% of email opens, email service providers have been forced to make significant improvements to the way in which emails render on smartphones and tablets. As a result, we’ve seen major providers like Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo adjust email scaling to better fit the mobile viewpoint, promote responsive design to ensure proper formatting, and implement CSS media queries to support mobile-optimized emails. 

This prioritization of mobile is not only reflective of today’s consumer preferences in terms of how, when, and where they engage with a brands’ content, but also echoes the fact that the digitally-driven business climate we live in isn’t going anywhere.

2. Content Marketers
As marketers, we’re always focused on representing and communicating our brand, or our client’s brand, in a way that resonates with consumers. Effective email content is one way to do accomplish that, but content alone doesn't cut it anymore. You can have effective copy in your email, but if your email is rendering incorrectly on mobile, it ultimately will not be effective.

In order to do properly send emails, we must be in-tune with the behaviors and preferences of consumers and align the strategies and tactics we deploy accordingly. The growing emphasis marketers have begun to place on email mobile optimization is a perfect example of this.

In the past 18 months, organizations have made a huge push to make their emails mobile-friendly, to the point that responsive design is now the dominant approach when crafting emails.

3.Consumer Behaviors

Everything begins and ends with the consumer in mind, and email marketing is no different.
When individuals are faced with even a few seconds of idle time – they instantly turn to their phone or mobile device. Whether it’s social media, the internet, or email - many of the interactions that take place on mobile devices are more relaxed than those of a desktop. Meaning, consumers are more inclined to spend time skimming through emails rather than just hitting the ‘delete’ button when a new email lands in their inbox.

Not only does this highlight the need to leverage email marketing campaigns on a more frequent and consistent basis, but it also demonstrates the growing need to more closely align emails with the format, or device, that consumers are using to consumer and engage with their content.

What this Means for Digital Marketers

Email marketing has long been known for having a high return on investment from a monetary standpoint but has often been criticized for being ineffective relative to other marketing mediums. However, the recent insights provided by Litmus Email Analytics and emailmonday provide beyond a shadow of a doubt that email marketing is critical to earning the attention of modern consumers. 

As marketers continue to focus their efforts on cutting through ‘the noise’ and driving more brand awareness, they should look to email marketing to better support their efforts.  

For more insight into how to create mobile-optimized emails, request an inbound assessment.