How Mobile Is Making Us Rethink Email Marketing
Thanks to smartphones and tablets, email marketing has fundamentally changed. Best practices surrounding design and when to send are seeing some of the first major shifts since webmail clients were the dominant email platform.
The good news for marketers is that people consume more email now. The bad news is that without the right analytics, most marketers are in real danger of being left behind.
Top 100 Retailers’ Email Opens By Platform
Return Path looked at the mobile email patterns of the top 100 Internet retailers in the last quarter of 2012 and found mobile, for the first time, to be the dominant platform. In fact, more people were opening emails on smartphones than on desktop clients (like Outlook) and webmail providers (like Gmail and Hotmail) combined.
The trend shows that mobile email usage is still increasing, making it a hugely important channel for marketers. There are three things every marker should track to identify fundamental shifts in their customers’ behavior.
1. Platform – Know what device your subscribers are reading your emails on. This matters because it will determine your mobile strategy and how your email looks; and, it will influence whether and how subscribers engage.
For example, Return Path looked at email opens by platform across a variety of industries. The banking industry had extremely low mobile open rates and high opens on desktop email clients like Outlook. One can assume that people prefer to do their banking on their desktops during banking hours, and/or they prefer the extra level of security and transparency on their desktops. (It’s easier to tell on a desktop than on a mobile device whether an email is phishing.)
Additionally, people will read emails on multiple devices throughout the day. Knowing your subscribers’ preferences for various platforms can inform whether you should design for mobile first or adopt responsive email design, for instance.
2. Day of Week – Many benchmark studies show that the best time to send an email is midweek: Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.
If you look at retailers’ opening patterns in the chart, you’ll notice the mobile peaks and troughs: The peaks are Saturdays. One can assume, then, that people are checking email more frequently on their mobile phones — especially in the weeks leading up to Christmas — to see which stores have the best deals.
So, we then looked to see when retailers were sending their emails and found that Fridays were the most popular; few campaigns were actually being sent on Saturdays.
3. Time of Day – Time of day is important because it can place the context of your subscriber. According to Google research, people mainly use their tablets while on the couch or in bed (35% for both).
What was surprising to me was that more people (6%) used their tablets to shop in bed than to shop from the couch (3%). So, more people are likely to be surfing and researching while on the couch than they are to actually buy anything. Smart email marketers could try sending product information in the evening, and then try to close the sale in the morning with a different email and an offer.
Your customers are unique, though, so it’s vital to look at these patterns of email and website usage for your own program.
This is really only the beginning for mobile email. As smartphones become even more widely adopted, consumer behaviors can shift in ways we probably wouldn’t imagine. But, having the right mobile email analytics and competitive intelligence at your fingertips is the only way to adapt and survive.
Step up your email marketing game with our weekly newsletter.