Comparing Mobile E-Mail Marketing Methods

By John Arnold

Think of e-mail marketing as one of many forms of mobile communication. Each of these many methods has advantages and disadvantages. This table compares the main forms of mobile communication so you can understand where mobile e-mail fits into your strategy:

E-Mail Compared with Other Forms of Mobile Communication
Mobile E-Mail Text Messages (SMS or MMS) Social Media Really Simple Syndication (RSS)
Delivery Options Mass delivery to private inboxes and one-to-one personalization
are possible.
Mass delivery to private inboxes and one-to-one personalization
are possible.
Mass delivery is public. Personalized delivery to private
inboxes is manual.
Mass delivery is public. Personalization is a challenge because
opt-in is often anonymous.
Delivery Rates
(% of Messages Delivered Correctly)
E-mail delivered by a good e-mail marketing provider can exceed
97%. Filters and changes to e-mail addresses can degrade
deliverability.
Assume 100% delivery. Carriers control opt-in and delivery
gateways, so filtering is low. People don’t change mobile
phone numbers as often as e-mail addresses.
Mass messages are posted rather than delivered, and anyone can
view them. People can easily un-follow and ignore posts.
Mass messages are posted rather than delivered, and anyone with
an RSS reader can view them. People can easily unsubscribe and
ignore posts.
Audience Almost everyone uses e-mail, and people can easily make the
transition from reading e-mail on a computer to reading e-mail on a
mobile phone.
Usage is increasing rapidly for users older than 30, and text
messaging is a standard for most people younger than 25. More than
95% of phones on the market can send and receive text
messages.
Once popular only with young audiences, social media usage is
now widespread. Few people, however, consider social media to be
their primary form of communication.
Fewer than 15% of consumers realize they use RSS*, but the
technology is used to enable many familiar blogging functions like
feeding a blog post to other Web sites or posting someone
else’s content to your own blog or social media page.
Building a List Obtaining e-mail addresses and permission is required.
Confirmed opt-in is not required, but it’s still a good
idea.
Obtaining mobile phone numbers and permission is required.
Confirmed opt-in is required by all the carriers.
Obtaining personal contact information is not required.
Permission is inherent in the decision to follow your
messages.
Obtaining personal contact information is not required.
Permission is inherent in the decision to follow your
messages.
Formatting Nearly unlimited text and graphic designs are possible. A
variety of links and images can be included.
Text limited to 160 characters and graphic design limited to
images. Links are subject to character limits.
Text limited on some sites, such as Twitter. Limited graphic
design. Links to files and downloads are limited.
Text and graphic design are limited unless the reader clicks
through to the source of the feed. Links to files and downloads are
limited or not included.
Cost E-mail service provider recommended. Flat-rate and per-message
plans are available at fractions of pennies per message.
Service provider required. Per-message plans start at around
$0.10 per message and go lower based on volume.
Going direct to each social media site is free. The service
provider is required to manage multiple sites and audiences. Costs
are minimal.
Service provider or programming skills are required. Most
services are free or very low cost.

* According to a ClickZ report

E-mail is perfect for sending highly personalized, targeted, private, and interest-specific messages to a large number of people at once. You can include links to files, mobile web pages, and other content, and you can control your brand identity with colors, images, and text formatting. You can also deliver e-mail to personal inboxes on a mass scale. This means you can reach a lot of people efficiently, and your recipients are more likely to pay attention to your e-mails because they sit in an inbox until they’re opened or deleted.