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The 4 W’s of Winning Mobile Emails

The 4 W’s of Winning Mobile Emails

When it comes to mobile email, you as a publisher have tremendous opportunity - and tremendous competition, as we saw last week.

91% of smartphone users check email on their cell phones at least once a day (and many users spend a lot of their mobile device time on email.

But almost 90% of publishers are involved in email marketing. The competition for your readers’ attention is stiff. How are you going to win?


To win at mobile email, you need to associate your email with a particular part of your reader’s day.

Andrew Davis, author of Brandscaping, coined the term “micro-dayparting.” Dayparting in traditional media is dividing the day into time slots. Each time slot (primetime, late night) has its own media type and content that is most appropriate to the audience.

In our new world of constant access to media, no matter where we are or what we’re doing, dayparts can and should be narrower and MUCH more specific.

Andrew: “We no longer live in big blocks of media time. My “drive-time” is different from your “drive time.” However, if you created a podcast designed to be consumed every Monday before I got to work, I’m much more likely to make time to consume your content on my commute. I need to be told when, where, and why I should consume this content. That’s a micro-daypart.”

What occasion in your reader’s day do you want her associating with your email? Is it her Monday morning commute? Her workout at the gym? Her Friday lunch break? The time when she’s making dinner for her kids?

An amazing interactive look at micro-dayparts, according to Andrew, was done by the NY Times, based on a survey done by the Department of Labor. Take a look at it for inspiration on choosing YOUR micro-daypart - the time you want to own in your audience’s lives. The more readers that are not just receiving, but EXPECTING your email, the higher your open rate is going to be.


For a successful email at any micro-daypart, you need to figure out what your audience is looking for at that time. What do they need? Entertainment? Education? Information? Stimulation?

- Executives tend to skim the news early in the morning, Dave Hendricks revealed, because they want to keep on top of things, share breaking news items with their colleagues and look smart.

People planning activities for the weekend would want information so that they can make good decision and have a good time.

Readers going food shopping want to buy food they like and save money.


Identify what content is going to answer their need.

- For the executive audience example above, you would want to own an early morning slot, as they’re getting ready at home or on their morning commute - before they reach the office. Send them an short, scannable email with news that will make them feel and look smart - news items that are easily forwardable to their colleagues.

- People planning for the weekend would love to receive an email about activities and events in their area.

- Food shopping readers would appreciate notifications on sales and coupons to their local stores.

Want to get clicks on your newsletter ads or promos or sponsorships? Make sure they’re in line with the need, too. If you own the micro-daypart of your reader deciding what to make for dinner, then your reader needs ideas for dinner. If you show them an ad promoting a nail salon or an article with manicure techniques, they’re more likely than not going to disregard it. If they see a sponsored recipe, however, or an article about 10 different dishes you can prepare with butternut squash - THAT will be worth clicking on.


People relate to people. One of the most basic ways to encourage engagement is to have your newsletter come from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..” Whether or not they recognize the name, it’s infinitely more appealing than This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..”

But you can take it one step further. Connect subscribers to your talent - your editors, your journalists. The power of putting a face and a personality behind your content is huge.

Examples include Wine Library’s Wine Library TV with Gary Vaynerchuk and the Advertising Specialty Institute’s The Joe Show with Joe Haley.

Your reader’s relationship with their favorite journalist can boost monetization - and not just by boosting open rate.

People relate to people. What’s going to be more powerful?
Your favorite editor or journalist “introducing” you to a sponsor?
Or a “this newsletter is sponsored by” announcement?

Don’t keep your sponsors as corporate entities - reveal the person, the story behind the sponsorship. This isn’t a promotion; it’s an introduction. 

Your reader’s favorite writer is a trusted entity. When he introduces the person behind the sponsorship, your reader will feel more of an affinity toward him and his offer.

If you apply these 4 W’s, you’ll be light years ahead of most other publishers and mobile email out there. So go forth:

- Identify WHEN your audience should be reading your email. What part of their day are you going to own?

- Figure out WHY they would be reading an email at that time in their day? What do they need?

- Identify WHAT content will meet that need.

- Figure out WHO in your organization should be the face on that content.

Now go out there and WIN!



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