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An Ounce of Prevention for Mobile Marketing Sickness

In the past six years we’ve realized two simple truths in email marketing: 1) the mass adoption of smartphones has significantly challenged email marketers; and, 2) by and large, the efforts to address the drop in click and conversion rates associated with mobile-email consumption have simply failed.

Given the risk that these declines in clicks and email-driven conversions are threatening to become a permanent fixture in email marketing, marketers need to rethink the way they address the mass adoption of smartphones.

The real issue with the approach marketers have taken to address smartphone adoption is that it’s been largely step-by-step, without any real thought to the broader issues. Stated differently, marketers recognized that emails opened on smart phones suffer from 35% fewer clicks than the same emails opened on a desktop, so marketers began to optimize email creative. Marketers then realized that mobile visitors to their sites convert 75% less frequently than their desktop counterpart; so marketers began to optimize landing pages.

In short, marketers knew they had the flu, and they started taking aspirin to address the symptoms.

But the problem in addressing the symptoms of illness is that, at the core, the issues still exist—a fact that can be seen by modest gains in the fight against mobile sickness. While the downturn in clicks and conversions attributed to mobile devices may never be fully addressed, email marketers need to step back and take a much more comprehensive look at how they’re addressing this issue. In short, marketers need to take steps to minimize the exposure to the mobile “flu” and, where exposed, develop approaches that attack the issue in the most aggressive manner.

With this in mind, marketers need to strike the mobile issue from five distinct angles:

  • Optimize.

The optimization of both creative and landing pages for smartphones is an essential step to effectively addressing the mobile dilemma. Most companies should have already taken this first basic step. However, if your company has not, do so immediately.

  • Understand your customers’ device habits.

Far too marketers lack real insight into how their consumers engage with their emails. With the proliferation of smartphones and tablets, understanding your customers’ device habits will allow you to build device-of-receipt profiles for those customers, allowing you to reasonably predict what device a consumer will be on at a given deployment time.

  • Time campaigns to maximize the proper device-of-receipt.

Now more than ever, marketers need to look at individual consumer data to determine the right time to deploy a message. When you determine the time of day that [email protected] is most likely at his desktop, deploying a message that is designed to drive Web-based conversions at any other time is simply foolish. As a result, marketers need to start timing the deployment of messages to be consistent with when a consumer is on the right device for the optimal marketing results.

  • Retarget.

Retargeting consumers based on online actions is nothing new, but with the mass adoption of smartphones, marketers need to start thinking about a new kind of retargeting: the smartphone retarget. More than 95% of all campaigns are designed to drive a consumer “transaction” of some sort; since testing has, as noted above, demonstrated that a mobile open results in 33 % fewer clicks and a mobile click results in 75% fewer conversion than their desktop counterparts, marketers should strongly consider retargeting mobile openers at a time they know consumers are on their desktop. Preliminary results show that retargeting mobile openers yields impressive open rates and, more important, click-to-open ratios of better than 3-to-1.

  • Drive mobile clickers to your company’s smartphone application.

While I would love to suggest that marketers could avoid hitting consumers on their smartphones, it simply is not so. Marketers need to avail themselves of the ability to tie an email click directly to the company’s smartphone application. By taking this step, marketers are minimizing the impact of smartphones on email marketing by 1) taking the consumer to a smartphone optimized environment, and 2) ensuring that purchases can be accomplished in a one-click format.

Surviving in an increasingly mobile world requires marketers to think broadly. Simply addressing how a consumer will view your offers and landing pages will unfortunately not address many of the issues brought about by smartphone adoption; marketers need to consider the marketing process from start to finish. From targeting to deployment and from rendering to click-through presentation, a true mobile-marketing remedy will address all of the factors that drive today’s mobile-marketing sickness.

Quinn Jalli is SVP of the Strategic Initiatives Group at Epsilon.

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