Is the Apple Watch a Game Changer for Email? #Applewatch

Apple watch in all its glory

Apple watch in all its glory

by Christopher Barnes

I have had my new fangled Apple watch for a week now, after pre-ordering it back on April 10th at just a minute passed midnight. Will this “shiny new toy” become a game changer for those of us who rely on email to stay engaged with our customers? Let’s explore.

Things have moved rather quickly in the internet space – as we all know too well. It was only a few years ago that we were creating and delivering email for the subscriber desktop experience. Today this has changed with better than 50% of most recipients receiving email on some type of mobile device. We have gone from creating multiple email versions to designing for the third screen or “Mobile” with responsive design and/or scaleable design. 1-click/2-“click to buy” from companies like Amazon and software companies like @pay are enhancing the convenience of seeing and then acting on messaging on our smart phones. Single column creative, links to video content, dynamic content/links and minimalism is in. After all we don’t read email, we scan.

The jury is out as to whether this new wearables segment will become the preferred way for consumers to interact with their emails. Both the Pebble watch and Moto360 by Motorola use is growing but it is still a small segment of the market. Apple is estimated to have pre-sold over 1.3MM watches and they could sell into main stream by next year close to 20MM watches according to USAToday. If that happens, marketers will definitely need to start looking at email differently. Actual use by the consumer will determine whether on not this is a game changer.

The 42mn size feels and fits just great on large wrists!

the 42mn size feels and fits just great on large wrists!

On my Apple Watch (1.0 OS) weblinks and phone numbers are disabled in both email as well as text. Html is not displayed – just a text version if you created and sent the email in MIME format. Goodbye to html showing up in all mobile devices by default. That could change however with future renditions on the Applewatch OS. I guess we will have to stay tuned. Strategies for optimizing plain text will have a big comeback if the interest in these wearables skyrockets-a great opportunity for marketers to innovate.
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A few weeks ago, Litmus’ Justine Jordan shared her insights in a blog post on how the Apple Watch handles html. When Apple Watch detects remote or linked images in an email, the plain text version is displayed—but after a advisory message in blue: “This message contains elements Apple Watch can’t display. You can read a text version below.” If a message was not sent in multi-part MIME, or the plain text is absent, another message displays: “The full version of this message isn’t available on Apple Watch. But you can read it on your iPhone.”

Open tracking uses on a 1×1 tracking image loading in the subscriber’s inbox. Since most emails on the Watch default to plain text, open tracking pixels are not displayed or loaded. Marketers will need to get creative with alternative metrics to measure campaign success – or other types of interaction.

The Apple Watch demands a shift in mindset in the email community. Let’s face it the Apple Watch is a personal device that favors personal messaging. Options to engage with your customers via the Apple Watch seem limited. Perhaps geo-fencing and beacon location technology (for businesses with a physical location) will be where the quick wins will be seen.

At the very least, as marketers we should work to create a meaningful plain text versions for each message we send out —a big plus for accessibility and deliverability. Let’s see how the consumers respond and be ready for the next OS rendition for the Apple Watch.

The excitement still has not worn off - cool!

The excitement still has not worn off – cool!

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