Like any good Modern Marketer, we have always aimed to be at the forefront of marketing technologies; ensuring we are using best practices are adhered too and satisfying the needs of our clients by providing relevant content.
One area that consistently let us down was, optimizing both our email and web experience for mobile devices. You can probably put that down to the highly regulated industry we operate in, that tends to cause a slower rate of adoption for new technologies and processes. It was when one of our newer team members who was enrolled in the E10: Personalizing Campaigns class that they asked me the question of "We personalize and use dynamic content to improve the customer experience, but why don't we do put the same effort into doing it on mobile devices? It was a valid question, we wanted too, but we always put it off in favor of other priorities. We just couldn't delay it any longer.
We started by investigating what others had done, Eloqua themselves had recently launched their mobile optimized templates, but we found those difficult to use, often time consuming to get just right. And there was very little information on Topliners bar a few random suggestions.
The challenge for us was how do we create mobile optimized email template, that could be used to create multiple layouts just by cutting and pasting blocks of annotated HTML; be adopted by users with little or no HTML experience and that improved our conversion rates.
Initially looking at the human element, we studied how long it took our team team to create a simple asset delivery email (One or two assets) and identified the skills that our team members had; some of which had zero HTML experience.
After identifying the human elements and gauging even if there was an appetite for change and the desire to learn something new, as we knew we couldn’t achieve our goals of not increasing the production time using Eloqua’s Editor. We started to look at the metrics and creating a solid testing plan to ensure that we could easily illustrate any increase in conversion rate.
While we have a firm handle on our metrics, and consistently benchmark against two best practice studies we identified the following as key to the performance of mobile optimized emails over those that were not:
- Delivery Rates, specifically looking at 522 errors, identifying the email as spam.
- Open Rates. Open rates should increase based on the fact the native email app on the iPhone download images and registers as an open automatically.
- Click-Through Rates (CTR) – Measuring click-through rates do ensure our engagement.
We started the actual building of the template by recreating several different historical emails, using several different combinations of Inline CSS and @Media Queries.
We focused on the major email clients, outlook, Gmail, Safari, Android etc., basically everyone except Lotus Notes. Using litmus to test we identified, through several rounds of refinements, a solid code base that we were certain would work across all clients and browsers.
After landing on a solid code base, we then worked to refine and optimize the code to ensure that it was user friendly and be robust across a wide range of layouts and use cases.
We started by annotating the HTML code with easy to understand instructions, with the goal of making something that can look intimidating into something simple and that our users would become more familiar with over time.
After we had refined our code, annotations and instructions we rolled it out to a select group of marketers, providing hand on training and then cut them loose to see if they could easily copy and paste each block of code to create a number of different layouts without breaking the responsive nature of the template.
We ran into one issue where the use of the Google Analytics (GA) integration for Eloqua broke the template after a recent update (Eloqua development are aware of this and working on a solution), but after disabling the GA campaign tracking, it immediately resolved the issue and we were able to continue our testing and training to roll it out company wide.
The feedback we got back exceeded our expectations, our production team often found it quicker to create emails this way, and gave them a thrill to see that hey had coded an email and learnt a new skill.
Early results are showing noticeable improvements when compared to pre-optimized emails with unique click-through rates increasing by over 80%
A copy of the resulting template can be found here.