Monday, February 21, 2011
Three Unique Benefits of Mobile Email
The online marketer's message is delivered via the Internet. There is an evolutionary transformation taking place in how consumers are choosing to access the Internet. Analysts including Morgan Stanley, and Gartner Research are predicting that within the next four years, the mobile device will become the number one access point to the Internet world wide.
For the past 15 years since the commercialization of the Internet, it's all been about the Desktop Experience. But now consumers are starting to expect the Mobile Experience. If brands do not offer a mobile experience to their customers, there is the possibility that they will lose them to brands that do.
In 2009, smartphones comprised less than 18% of all cellular phones worldwide. Within just one year, smartphone sales worldwide jumped a whopping 80 percent and represented over 21% of all cellphones sold worldwide in 2010. In February of this year, ReadWriteWeb reported that more smartphones were sold worldwide than PCs for the first time ever in Q4 2010.
Research into consumers' mobile device usage patterns indicates that people are interacting with their mobile devices at all times during the day. Additional research indicates that reading email continues to be the most popular data usage across all mobile devices for both feature phones and smartphones. With the meteoric rise of smartphone adoption, email marketers who offer a mobile experience for their customers stand to reap enormous economic benefits.
Email marketers need to see beyond just mobile formatting and consider the mobile opportunity. It is a tragedy of missed opportunity to focus just on repurposing desktop content for the mobile screen all the while ignoring the uniqueness of the mobile context that the desktop cannot duplicate. Mobile devices are the enablers of instant gratification. From a single device, I can talk to anyone, anywhere in the world, anytime I want to. I can also listen to music, watch a movie or TV show, purchase just about anything, play a game, find out where my friends are and tell them where I am, search for information on any topic, read my email, my magazine, my newspaper, or my book, program my DVR and just about anything else, anytime I want to.
Send time optimization - the conundrum of the email marketer - is an artifact of the Desktop Experience because people in this context are constrained by the times and places they have access to a computer. The mobile context has no such limitations. People read their emails on their mobile devices whenever and wherever they happen to be.
Mobile email is all about the immediacy that is unique to the mobile context and cannot be matched by the desktop computer. For this reason, mobile email needs to be different from desktop email. Mobile email needs to be short and sweet. There should be only one or two images and the copy should be right to the point. The entire message should be easily understood within 10 seconds or less. The call to action must be fulfilled quickly and easily.
I'll now give you three simple examples of effective mobile emails.
Mobile emails are a must-have for brands that have made the investment of a mobile app. Promote the mobile app using the mobile email. Include a link to download the app in the body of the email. Keeping the consumer within the same device for reading the promotional email and using the app greatly increases the likelihood that the app will be downloaded and used.
Brands that require an in-venue experience benefit greatly from mobile email. For example, Hot Topic is a major retail clothier whose target market are Tweens, who, by the way, are not online buyers because they are too young to own credit cards. Fortunately, there is a strong overlap between their (and other retailers like them) target market and the persona that is highly interactive with mobile devices. Mobile emails should absolutely be used to drive in-store traffic by containing exclusive special offers and promotions that are redeemable within the store by presenting the mobile email to the sales associate at the point of sale. In the not too distant future, 2D code readers at the point of sale will enable highly personalized (and highly trackable) redeemable offers.
Finally, there is absolutely no excuse for brands in the Travel and Hospitality industry to not be using mobile email. They know when and where their customers are on vacation. People don't take their computers with them on vacation, but they definitely take their mobile devices with them. (People who DO take their computers with them on vacation - like me - only interact with them at night when they are back in the hotel room.) Therefore mobile - not desktop - email should be the communication medium. Mobile emails should include co-branded promotions and offers from those that are local to the vacationer. If the brand has a presence on a social network, the mobile email should invite the customers to post their vacation pictures on the brand's social site to enhance their social community experience.
Hopefully by reading this blog, you'll be persuaded that the time for mobile email is now. Don't get hung up on mobile formatting; by keeping your mobile email within the mobile context, it will naturally render will in a wide variety of mobile devices. Focus instead on the mobile opportunity. Take advantage of the mobile context that cannot be duplicated by desktop computers. Start by giving your customers a preference of reading their emails on a desktop computer or on a mobile device. Don't just sneak mobile email out there either; promote it. Give people a compelling reason to partake of the experience that is uniquely mobile.