Easy Ways to Optimize For The 'Pocket Inbox' This Holiday Season

Back before mobile email became such a force, a top priority in “cross-channel marketing” was reinforcing in-store sales through email campaigns. These days, data from our clients suggests that about 40% of email opens come from mobile devices, and we’ve been thinking about how to turn more of these mobile email opens into in-store boosts.

With the holiday season approaching, more shoppers than usual will hit brick-and-mortar locations with shopping lists in hand -- and their inboxes in their pockets. Retail marketers have huge opportunities -- this year more than ever before -- to drive in-store purchases through emails reaching consumers as they shop. Here are some strategies for driving in-store purchases that could be implemented alongside existing holiday plans:

Creative and strategic elements to test:

  • Find out how your subscribers read your email. Check your Litmus or Return Path report to see a breakdown of your mobile opens to help you determine what your mobile optimization strategy should be. If you have predominantly iPhone opens, it may make sense to use scalable design, vs. mostly Android, where the top left 300px is what your subscribers will see.
  • Test the timing of sends. Experiment with sending your emails on weekends, during prime shopping hours, and see how it affects clicks. Unfortunately, it’s tough to track which in-store sales are driven by email, but gathering data on how customers interact with your emails during the day could provide a more nuanced grasp of their behavior.
  • Design more areas of your email to be clickable, knowing that fingers on a touch screen might have a tough time zeroing in on a small CTA button.
  • Try subject lines tailored to on-the-go shoppers. Consider testing subject lines that call out needs of shoppers (“Find the store nearest you!” “See what’s happening at your local store”) or offer incentives to visit your store (“Hitting the mall today? Stop in for an exclusive deal!”).

Content elements to add to existing designs:

  • Include store location details. Reach subscribers between shopping stops by including store locator banners or even location-segmented addresses and basic directions to store locations.
  • Feature customer quotes about store locations. We all know that product reviews are a hit with subscribers, so why not collect and highlight customer reviews about store locations themselves? A quote from a fellow shopper about standout customer service or expansive product offerings could go a long way with a shopper deciding whether to stop at your store on the way to another location. Social media sites could offer plenty of consumer voices with feedback about stores that could be featured in later emails.
  • Promote in-store holiday services and in-store-only items. Send emails calling out holiday offerings like in-store pickup, gift wrapping, and extended holiday shopping hours. Depending on the assets you have available, you could also try using location-segmented store photography or featuring local employee profiles. Using email to highlight items or prices available only in-store, such as deals on fun stocking stuffers, could also get subscribers to swing by, and you might even try throwing in an email-only coupon to be shown or scanned in-store, allowing you to track the success of the message.

As we head into the holidays, do you have other ideas about driving in-store traffic via mobile email? Please share!

Tags: email
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