Mobile open rates are rising faster than expected. If this trend continues, these rates will overtake opens on webmail and desktop email clients by the end of the year, or even as soon as this summer.
Here’s what I see as the three big implications of the boom in mobile email:
The explosion of devices presents senders with a design quandary. Exactly what creative should be sent to a given recipient? Should you send creative optimized for a mobile device? A careful review of which devices individuals are viewing your messages on will make the decision easier. For most email programs, there are two kinds of subscribers: a large group that views your emails only on one environment and a small group that views on multiple device types over a period of time. For the “single device” recipients, send creative optimized for the chosen environment.
Marketers must rethink conventional wisdom about the perfect time to send an email. This has always been a topic of debate around the marketing water cooler. Having said that, the most common tactic is timing an email to get to the inbox just as subscribers were getting to work so the email would be sitting right on or near the top, ready to capture their full attention. That may not be the best strategy today. Armed with our mobile phones, we’re performing email triage anywhere, anytime. We clear out our inbox the moment we wake up, and reply to emails while using the restroom or lounging on the couch.
However, how many people are actually shopping the minute they wake up? The answer to “when to send” may depend on way more variables than every before. Marketers need to do more analysis of their opens, clicks and conversion rates to optimize send times. Some of the most sophisticated marketers are varying send times based on individual subscriber behavior.
Mobile also presents an opportunity for marketers to acquire new subscribers and send more targeted messaging. Marketers have been experimenting with mobile by placing SMS and QR code signups in various actual locations, with mixed results. An alternative approach is to offer an in-store incentive to subscribe to offers with directions to a mobile-optimized site (ideally one with a short URL). We may also see dynamic emails on mobile devices that custom-tailor an offer based on a subscriber’s exact location (initially based on IP geo-location).
It’s exciting to see how smartphones are shaping how we engage with email today. I believe it will have profound effects on the way we think about and implement email marketing in the near and long term. Now I just need to figure out how to get my emails to render well in my Google Glasses.