Mobile Email: The "New Normal" for Marketers and Consumers

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Five things email marketers should consider to keep up with consumers' mobile behaviors.

Remember when having mobile-optimized email was special? Back in the day, just being able to send responsive messages and mobile-friendly links was enough to separate the marketing leaders from the rest of the pack. Well, those days are over. In fact, a recent report from Yesmail claims that mobile is consumers' “new normal,” and its data backs up its decree.

According to the email solution provider's “Q1 2015 Email Marketing Compass” benchmark report, 45% of all clicks on the more than six billion emails analyzed in Q1 2015 occurred on mobile devices—a 10% increase since Q4 2014. What's more, mobile click-to-open (CTO) rates increased 8.5% in Q1 2015, while desktop CTOs fell 8.6%. And this engagement is having a major impact on companies' bottom lines. The report cites that mobile email revenue grew 12% since Q4 2014 and that mobile emails accounted for 22% of all email-driven revenue in Q1 2015. In fact, Yesmail, the email marketing division of Yes Lifecycle Marketing, predicts that this number will approach 33% by the end of the year.

“When mobile first started to be a huge factor, marketers were not ready for it and they didn't exactly know how to optimize for it,” Ivy Shtereva, senior marketing manager for Yesmail, says. “They're doing a better job and investing more of their resources into making this a mobile-[friendly] experience and optimizing the mobile path to purchase, which has considerably grown in the past and is continuing to.”

Therefore, if mobile is consumers' "new normal," then it has to become marketers', too. Here are five tips on how marketers can create a more effective mobile email strategy.

1. Embrace change. According to Yesmail's research, 41.6% of marketing messages analyzed in Q1 2015 were responsive. That's a 13% increase since Q4 2014. For marketers still looking to make their messages responsive, Shtereva recommends starting with the basics: simply redesigning the templates so that they render correctly. Granted, sometimes this requires a complete template overhaul, she says. However, Shtereva encourages marketers to embrace change and think about their email templates in a more strategic manner.

“It makes [marketers] think of the way that they want their consumers to view their emails,” she says. “That often prompts change, and that's a great thing.”

2. Consider context. Getting an email to render properly is an important first step, but Shtereva says that marketers need to go a step further and think about how they can tailor their calls-to-action and content for each device. For example, product review calls-to-action may be more effective in desktop emails, she says, while in-store coupons based on subscribers' current locations may be more successful in mobile messages.

“Context is a very important part of the conversion path of a consumer,” she says. “Sometimes when the context of a message is not right, the conversion is not going to happen and it's very possible that the marketer can lose that subscriber.”

3. Don't lump smartphones and tablets together. Adjusting email content for specific devices applies to smartphones and tablets, too. After all, smartphone revenue increased 15% since Q4 2014 and the number of mobile orders completed on a smartphone, versus a tablet, rose 13%.

“In general, the more granular you can get with the segments, especially in terms of device preference, the better,” Shtereva says.

Indeed, tablets are displacing desktops as the preferred device for at-home lounging, the senior marketing manager notes, while smartphones constantly remain in consumers' back pocket. Therefore, when creating content for emails designed to be opened on a smartphone, Shtereva recommends leveraging on-the-go functionalities, like location tracking. This can satisfy smartphone users' desire for urgent information.

4. Identify your long-term objectives. Every email marketer is going to have different objectives, depending on their business. However, Shtereva suggests focusing on long-term goals rather than on short-term growth. Her favorite metric? Revenue per click.

5. Make mobile email part of your brand's overall story. Instead of solely using email as a sales vehicle, marketers should use the channel in an integrated way to tell the brand's overall story, such as by inviting subscribers to follow them on social media or review a product, Shtereva says.

As she puts it, “There are many ways that brands can continuously engage their consumers past the purchase lifecycle.”

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