What effect could wearables have on email marketing?

While marketing departments are still heavily engrossed in formulating strategies for conquering mobile users, another hyped-up and disruptive technology is here to make their tasks even more challenging. Yes, we are talking about wearable devices.

We have already seen the emergence of wearable technology, the likes of which include Google Glass, Apple Watch and Samsung’s Galaxy Gear. Wearables are indeed the next big thing in the tech world. However, they have also put marketers neck-deep in creating strategies for these devices.

While there’s been plenty of speculation about how wearable tech can affect existing marketing strategies, things are definitely going to be more challenging for email marketers.

Anxiety of an email marketer

The way technology is evolving, especially those related to wearables and online communication it is more than likely that very soon we will be receiving emails in radically different ways. Google, for example, has already taken steps in that direction. The tech-giant is redesigning its signature product, Gmail to make it wearable-ready.

But that’s still a little way off. At present, wearables seem to be bad news for email marketers. The technology does not allow you to send emails and track device-wearing ROI or user engagement metrics.

According to the wearable UX guidelines provided by Google/Android, we are less likely to see anything beyond the ability to browse the inbox, or postpone, flag and delete emails on wearable devices, based on the email’s subject line and/or preheader text for now.

This indicates a change in user behavior. The wearers are likely is to engage with your email campaigns in the following ways:

  1. They would scan and prioritize emails
  2. Read only the prioritized emails on their smartphone for further interaction
  3. Use a desktop/laptop computer to make further interaction or for purchasing

This is not necessarily a bad from a marketing standpoint. In fact, this means new opportunities for marketers to create relevant marketing messages based on the wearer’s location, physical health and proximity to others.

Starbucks is already leveraging the technology with its wearable Android app, “Wearbucks”. Designed for smart watches, this app not only allows the wearer to pay for Starbucks, but also sends targeted marketing messages if there is a Starbucks store nearby, reminding you to have a coffee-break or to redeem your reward-points. This is indeed a smart way to integrate email marketing campaigns into your wearable marketing strategy.

Marketers therefore need to optimize their email campaigns for wearable devices before the technology takes a stronghold on the industry. Here’s how wearable technology will affect email marketing and what you should do to deal with it.

Influence people to interact with “wearable emails”

Let’s take the example of Starbucks’ wearable app. Imagine you are about to cross a Starbuck store when you suddenly get an email notification right on your smartwatch reminding you to redeem your points at the store or prompting you to visit the coffee shop to enjoy their new “Frappuccino”.

Such triggered emails, based on context, are a great weapon in the battle against the challenges posed by wearable technology. But in order to influence this behavioral change you need to focus on your subject line. What you need here is interesting and effective subject lines for your email marketing messages in order to induce the interest of your target audience(s).

While an effective subject line is essential for any email marketing campaign, it is even more crucial when your message is being read on a wearable device. Due to the smaller screen size of these devices, the first thing users will see is the subject line. It is therefore your best chance to get their attention as well as convince them to read your email.

Treat it as a convergence between various vital channels such as SMS, email and social. We are in fact facing the time when short messages will be near-indistinguishable and users will have the ability to receive and respond to these messages directly from their wearable devices.

Focus on wearable email design

Even if you haven’t heard this term before, “wearable email design” is a possibility in the near future. At present, there are no wearable email clients, but people are stressing on this concept and its potentials. How email interaction on wearable devices will be affected by the style of an email remains unclear as of now, but rumor has it that plain text emails will resurrect. The focus is basically on minimalist approaches and clear, readable text.

The concept of simple, clear and engaging emails is nothing new. In fact, these are an integral part of any successful email campaign. Almost all leading email marketers and solution providers have been using them to create successful email designs that convert. But what is new is the other aspects of the wearable email designs.

According to Android’s developer documents, the trend would be to provide short bursts of information as well as control through voice actions.

We are therefore likely to see wearable emails with:

  • Effective subject lines and preheader text, optimized for the small screens of wearable devices. In addition, they should offer extreme brevity to compel people to take desired actions
  • Email interactions connecting with wearable applications such as providing directions to a nearby store via email content
  • Users engaging with emails via voice control, something like Starbucks’ wearable app where you need to proclaim “Ok Google, start paying for Starbucks.”
  • Using simple plain-text emails that are readable on wearable devices.


As a marketer, you should never take wearable emails for responsive emails. There are stark differences. The responsive emails at least had a precedent, the Web. Besides, there were software to test responsive emails. But with wearable email marketing, it’s a virgin land yet to be explored. We can therefore only anticipate new patterns and trends and define them as well, as we proceed.

This makes one thing clear that the future of marketing and technology is very much unpredictable. But again, the influence of the “latest and greatest” devices will continue to be huge on the marketing industry. They will continue to pose challenges and as marketers, we will keep on formulating a viable solution for them. In conclusion, it is an exciting period for technology



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