The pace of change when it comes to consumer technology adoption almost never ceases to amaze. Just four short years ago, only 9% of email marketing messages were opened on mobile devices (source:
Unica, slide 21 here
) -- and “mobile” at that time meant smartphones; the iPad was first released in
April of 2010. Fast-forward to Q1 of 2014, and according to research from my company, now 66% of email marketing messages are opened on mobile (47% smartphone, 19% tablet).
Two more tidbits from
our study: First, in Q2 of last year, desktops were the primary devices used to open emails in 24 of the 50 U.S states. Just three quarters later, and now there are only 13 states left where this is
the case. Second, while smartphone opens have been relatively level over the past year, tablet opens have grown by 31%, and these devices are poised to overtake desktops as the household “PC of
record” that people use when they get home from work.
We’ve all known this sea change has been coming -- and yet, so many marketers still seem to struggle (or maybe not even care)
about optimizing their campaigns for mobile. A recent study from Yesmail
found that only 1% of email marketers always use responsive design, and 31% of marketers never use it at all. And that’s just from the design perspective, not taking into account the end-to-end
mobile marketing and shopping experience.
The time has come for email marketers to understand that they are optimizing for a metric that is no longer the be-all and end-all that it once was:
the click-through rate. Consumers aren’t clicking on images and links in email the way they used to. Now, they are tapping, scanning, and glancing. As such, these are the new metrics that
marketers should be optimizing for, and some ways they can do so:
- The tap-through rate. Leverage analytics tools to distinguish between mobile and desktop openers to see how
“click-through rates” vary across devices. This will give you a sense of your mobile tap-through rate compared to your desktop click-through rate. To optimize tap-through rates, make sure
buttons and images are large enough to tap on, and make the tap-through lead users to a “next-best step” through tactics like taking users to an m-site, deep linking to installed mobile
apps, or even presenting a one tap click-to-call option for ordering your products while consumers are on the go.
- The scan-through rate. Some studies have
found that as much as two-thirds of mobile shoppers complete their transactions offline. Capture mobile, email-driven, point-of-sale conversions at brick-and-mortar stores by using single column
layouts when emails are opened on smartphones. Include bar codes that take up the width of the screen for easy scanning at the register.
- The glance-through
rate. In a multi-device world, expect to see more and more consumers open email on one device, and then convert on another. New email-conversion-tracking technology will allow you to capture this
information, and give you an understanding of how many initial impressions made on a smartphone result in a conversion on desktops or tablets (and vice versa). First impressions are important, and can
make the difference between getting that second open and conversion, or being deleted or forgotten.
Mobile email opens keep rising as a percentage of total opens each quarter, and
aren't showing any signs of relenting. Of course, it’s not literally time to “retire” the click-through rate -- at least not just yet. But the time to optimize for “next
steps” other than clicks is now.