How To Maintain Email Customer Engagement In An Increasingly Mobile Marketplace
As consumers continue to shift toward mobile, how can brands use email to improve customer engagement? Columnist Jason Warnock has some tips for marketers.
We’ve heard it before: “Mobilegeddon” is upon us. Just a couple of months ago, Google updated its algorithm to reward mobile-friendly websites. Shifts like this should come as no surprise to marketers, however. Consumer preferences have been shifting from desktop to mobile devices for a while, but before now, many speculated it was a short-term trend rather than a long-term phenomenon.
Mobile is now an abiding preference, not only for research and online shopping, but email as well. In fact, mobile email clicks and revenue are at an all-time high.
So as consumers begin to embrace mobile as a preferred shopping venue, how can your brand use email to move beyond clicks and create meaningful interactions with target audiences?
Consumer Behavior Is Shifting Toward Mobile
Historically, consumer mobile email activity peaks during the holiday shopping season, then tapers off when consumers no longer feel the need to make urgent, on-the-go purchases. When time wasn’t an issue, many consumers would go back to their normal routines of shopping offline or from their desktops.
But that trend appears to have come to an end. According to data captured for the Yesmail Q1 2015 Email Marketing Compass, mobile activity continued to grow during the first quarter, demonstrating that consumers are starting to rely on mobile as a “normal” commerce channel.
Key indicators of the shift in consumer behavior include:
• Email Clicks. From the fourth quarter of 2014 to the first quarter of 2015, mobile clicks increased by 10 percent. Mobile now accounts for more than 45 percent of all email clicks. Sound insignificant? It’s not.
Typically, mobile clicks remain flat or decline after the hectic holiday shopping season. The continued growth of clicks during Q1 shows that consumers are transitioning to mobile as a year-round shopping channel.
• Mobile Revenue. The first three months of 2015 saw a 12 percent quarter-over-quarter increase in mobile revenue. Currently, mobile represents 22 percent of all email-generated revenue — and it’s on track to account for a third of all email-generated revenue by the end of the year.
• Mobile Marketing. Investments in mobile marketing initiatives also indicate the importance of mobile in today’s digital marketplace. During the first quarter of 2015, more than 40 percent of all marketing messages were responsive — a 13 percent increase over the fourth quarter and a sign that marketers are allocating budget spend to mobile-friendly email templates.
The writing is on the wall. More than ever before, consumers are incorporating smartphones and tablets into their normal digital commerce routines. As a result, marketers need to focus on optimizing email campaigns for mobile audiences.
Engaging Mobile Consumers: Tips For Email Marketers
Responsive design is a solid first step for marketers interested in aligning their email marketing campaigns with consumers’ mobile behaviors.
But responsive design doesn’t go far enough in optimizing the mobile email experience. To improve engagement and ensure that consumers participate in meaningful brand interactions, marketers must continue to adjust their strategies to appeal to shifts in consumer preferences, and nurture their active subscribers to keep them constantly engaged.
Marketers can do so with additional elements like message frequency, contextual relevance and accurate personalization.
Message Frequency — Like traditional email marketing, the success of mobile email campaigns is partially determined by message frequency. Although it’s important to regularly engage subscribers, there’s a fine line between consistency and annoying your subscribers.
Different frequencies work for different types of content. For example, time sensitive, incentive-based offers are most effective sent on a daily basis, while information-based emails are most effective when sent monthly.
Regardless of frequency, marketers should have a triggered-email program in place so that messages are automatically deployed based on consumer behavior.
Contextual Relevancy — Consumers respond to email messages that matter to them. So, email offers and content — including the email and content received on mobile devices — need to be contextually relevant to subscribers.
In fact, contextual relevancy may be even more important for mobile audiences, because mobile users have less patience than their desktop brethren for content that doesn’t immediately grab their attention.
Here, it’s important to consider a user’s position in his or her purchasing lifecycle. If a consumer has just purchased an item, for example, an email upselling that buyer with suggested add-ons can be effective.
Accurate Personalization — It’s no secret that email personalization drives engagement. Yet, relatively few marketers excel at delivering personalized emails to mobile audiences.
To truly connect with today’s consumers, marketers need to constantly look for new ways to wow mobile audiences with innovative personalization features.
Consider doing so with dynamic content display that changes based on user behavior and mega merge technology that pulls in relevant user information with attention-grabbing graphics.
Whether marketers are targeting mobile or traditional consumers, the fundamental strategy remains the same. By delivering relevant and personalized offers or content via consumers’ preferred communication platforms (e.g., mobile), marketers can achieve meaningful improvements in customer engagement and ultimately increase business revenue.