We’re reaching the tipping point in mobile commerce
Think people don't convert when they receive email on a mobile phone? Think again, advises columnist Jason Warnock, and he's got the stats to back up his contention.
Have you noticed what’s going on with mobile? Mobile revenue is at a record high, as more and more consumers use their smartphones to complete purchases.
Although positive sentiment toward mobile commerce has been building for several years, we may finally be approaching the tipping point — the moment when the marketplace accepts mobile as a primary purchasing channel.
Mobile commerce trends in email marketing
Over the past three years, we’ve seen a groundswell of consumer acceptance of mobile commerce. Although the upsurge in mobile cuts across a range of marketing channels, it’s particularly evident in email marketing.
In the last three months of 2015, Yesmail Interactive (my employer) conducted research to quantify the role mobile plays in email marketing. The data showed that more than half of all email opens (51.7 percent) now happen on a mobile device.
But consumers aren’t just opening emails on their smartphones — they’re interacting with email content in ways that generate increased revenue for brands.
Desktop vs. mobile clicks
Mobile has steadily gained ground on desktops when it comes to share of clicks.
While desktops accounted for nearly two-thirds of all clicks in 2013, the number of clicks originating from mobile devices is now roughly the same as those originating from laptops and traditional desktop units.
|Q4 2013||Q4 2014||Q4 2015|
Desktop vs. mobile CTO rates
There’s also evidence that mobile users rely on their devices to interact with the brands that market to them.
The click-to-open (CTO) rate for desktops has continually declined, falling from 21.6 percent in 2013 to 15.3 percent in 2015. But over the same time period, the mobile CTO rate has risen from 10.3 percent to 13.0 percent, a sign that consumers are more comfortable clicking on the offers they receive via mobile emails.
|Q4 2013||Q4 2014||Q4 2015|
Desktop vs. mobile average order volume (AOV)
When it comes to revenue, mobile is quickly closing the gap on laptops and desktops. Mobile currently delivers more than 30 percent of all email-driven orders and more than 25 percent of all email-driven revenue. AOV for mobile grew by 15 percent year over year, compared to 13 percent for desktop.
|Q4 2014||Q4 2015|
Why is the tipping point happening now?
Mobile transactions and revenue are growing in leaps and bounds. But what changed? Why are consumers suddenly more open to using their mobile devices to complete purchases and interact with marketing content?
Although consumers’ relationship with mobile technology is complex, it’s fair to say that the rise of mobile commerce can be attributed to a combination of consumer behaviors and improvements in mobile technology.
Global device shipments
Consumers’ love affair with mobile technology continues to flourish. Earlier this year, Gartner released global research predicting modest growth in all categories of devices over the next couple of years, but the sheer number of mobile phones in the marketplace dramatically overshadows the numbers of PCs and tablets combined.
|PCs (desktops + laptops)||290 million||287 million||299 million||312 million|
|Tablets||196 million||195 million||196 million||198 million|
|Mobile Phones||1,910 million||1,959 million||1,983 million||2,034 million|
|Source: Gartner Worldwide Devices Shipments by Device Type, 2015-2018, released Jan 2016|
The evolution of the smartphone
The demand for mobile devices and the meteoric rise of mobile purchase behaviors didn’t happen in a vacuum. They were enabled by hardware innovations that have dramatically improved the user experience.
In a recent Marketing Land column, I charted the evolution of the iPhone to showcase the screen and resolution advances that paved the way for today’s mobile user experience.
|iPhone||iPhone 3G||iPhone 4||iPhone 5||iPhone 6||iPhone 6 Plus|
In email marketing, all signs seem to confirm the idea that we’re reaching the tipping point for mobile commerce. From opens to clicks to conversions, mobile has closed the gap and is on track to supplant desktops as consumers’ primary purchase channel.
For marketers, the issue now isn’t whether to invest in mobile email, but how much. Although there are no easy answers to the question of resource allocation between mobile and traditional email, brands’ marketing spend needs to start to reflect the fact that mobile has earned a seat at the grownups’ table.