Mobile devices have changed the way customers shop. From NFC payments to mobile eCommerce apps, mobile commerce has become a way of life. Mobile eCommerce is poised to top 50 billion in sales by the end of this year. The shift to mobile is transforming consumer marketing itself where email is the prime example. A wide range of mobile devices and sizes along with when and how mobile email is viewed has forced eCommerce email marketers to either adapt or fail.
Mobile devices have become the most common medium for opening email with 41% of email opens in Q1 2014 attributed to mobile, more than webmail and desktop clients combined (14% and 23% respectively). Unlike on desktops where organic search drives most purchases, email is the king on phones where it drives the highest share of purchases. Retailers should now assume that consumers by default interact with their emails on a mobile device rather than a web browser or desktop client. The natural question becomes: what should retail email marketer do in the light of the shift towards mobile?
The first thing to consider is the email design itself. In fact, the term “responsive design” became a hot topic in the last couple of years and a number of case studies prove the effectiveness of responsive email. It’s important to know that not all mobile email approaches are built the same. While the term “responsive” is used as a general term for mobile friendly email, it is in fact only one of three options with the differences mainly lying in the amount of coding involved. Understanding these options is the first step in designing a well optimized mobile strategy.
- Scalable design: Probably the most common mobile email strategy, it doesn’t rely on any particular code but instead on certain layout principles including larger typeface and large touchable calls to action on simple single column layouts.
- Fluid design: Using percentage based sizing, fluid designs use CSS to adjust the layout through various screen sizes. Fluid design’s ability to “flow” into open space makes it a primary option for text heavy email templates.
- Responsive design: Responsive design is the most technical of the three, using elements of both scalable and fluid designs and building it up further with CSS queries. This allows emails to literally respond to various devices by altering, replacing or omitting layouts, text and graphics to maximize user experience.
Creating an effective mobile email strategy however involves more than choosing a design template. Understanding consumer behavior is key to an effective mobile experience. Our CEO, Eldar Sadikov, always reminds us, “Mobile users generally don’t spend a lot of time clicking through mobile email because they are typically multitasking as they read them.” There are actually hard numbers that prove this. While the mobile clients are responsible for more opened emails than both webmail and desktop clients combined, the latter two are still responsible for the majority of email clicks (55% combined).
As seen in the graph above, mobile, responsible for over 41% of opened emails, generates only 33% of email clicks compared to webmail generating 27% of clicks with 20% of opened emails. While the percentage of opened emails on mobile is growing, mobile clickthrough is significantly lower. You can see it more directly in the percentage of clicks relative to opens: 19% for webmail, 14% for desktop, and 11% for mobile.
The trend suggests that it’s becoming more difficult to turn those mobile opens into clicks and this is one of the factors that contributes to the overall decline in email clickthrough rate. Remembering context and user interaction when it comes to mobile email is key:
- The multitasking element of mobile use means that marketers have to work harder to gain and maintain user attention. Static brochures with screaming discounts are not appealing enough on mobile. Save your consumers time by bringing your shop directly into the user’s inbox. From brochure to purchase there are at least 3 clicks: email click that lands you on a category page, navigation to an individual product, and a buy action. Consumers don’t have time for this on mobile, you need to showcase the merchandise directly in the email so that the user can make a decision faster. With the shift of email towards mobile, merchandising becomes extremely critical for your email marketing efficiency and engagement.
- Merchandise itself needs to be responsive in email. Presenting merchandise in a way that is appealing on mobile email across devices is key to consumers taking positive action. For example, Jetlore’s platform supports varying product image designs that are dynamically rendered depending on the open context: smaller mobile-friendly product images are served on mobile devices, while bigger desktop-optimized images are served on desktop.
- Be mindful of the consumer’s next step in the purchasing cycle after they make an email click. Be cognizant of whether the user has the app installed and redirect the user to the appropriate product within the app all while making buy action extremely simple. If the user does not have the app, present the user with a mobile-friendly product page and with a simple buy action. For example, Jetlore’s platform supports dynamic product linking which recognizes mobile and desktop platforms and directs clicks to the most appropriate location, be it a website for desktop users or an app for mobile.
These considerations put email readers in better positions to make purchases regardless of device.