Mobile Users Losing Patience With Un-Optimized Email

Get with the program, users are telling marketers and publishers. We are reading these emails on devices now -- or at least we are trying to. The price paid by the un-optimized provider may be higher than expected, while the benefit to the mobile-ready could come in surprising ways.

The most obvious trend in digital marketing, that the all-important email channel is migrating quickly to device, just keeps, well, trending. According to provider EmailOutbound Networks and its annual survey of over 2,000 U.S. consumers, 43% now say they read their email most often on mobile device -- a number up 8% since last year.

EmailOutbound is a 6-year-old self-serve email marketing platform aimed at small and medium-sized businesses. It claims 40,000 customers.   

The price for not making email clear and usable on a handset can be steep, and it is getting steeper. In the 2012 survey, 69.7% of respondents said they would just delete messages that did not look good in their phone inbox, but in this year’s survey 80.3% will hit the delete button. Worse, the number of people who would be motivated by un-optimized email to unsubscribe from the service is now up to 30.2%, up from 18% last year. Clearly users are losing patience -- and fast -- with companies whose messaging does not reflect the reality of contemporary media consumption.



The good news for email marketers -- and perhaps retailers in general -- is that a well-formatted email that gets read on devices could inspire greater confidence in m-commerce. 63% said that they may buy from an email read on the device. One way of reading that stat is that companies that have established their credentials and trust in a user’s inbox could enjoy greater m-commerce returns.

Conventional wisdom holds that most people are happier browsing and researching products on their smartphones but prefer to buy on the more familiar terrain of desktop Web physical store. A solid m-email approach could help the user port her trust for the vendor onto mobile devices and open up that additional channel for purchasing.

Moving customers onto the mobile commerce channel is not merely migrating the same buyer with the same habits from one screen to another. There is some evidence to suggest that people comfortable with m-purchasing are doing more impulse buying as a results. A U.K.-based Rackspace survey of over 2,000 consumers last year showed 17% claiming to make more impulse purchases now that they're buying on their phones.

I can only speculate on this possible connection between the mobile-friendliness of an email message and a consumer’s willingness to follow through with an m-purchase. But it makes some intuitive sense. I suspect that one of the choke points for many people in m-commerce is the sheer incompetence at the transaction point. Many companies still kick a user into an un-optimized fulfillment process where accounts are not stored, entering payment information is tortuous, etc. It still dumbfounds me how many marketers leave their own consumer experience and identity at the door when they design for others to use. No one wants to fumble through credit card entry, unnecessary form fill-outs, broken drop-downs, and zoom and pinch gymnastics -- even the people who actually design these systems so poorly.

I suspect that a mobile-friendly email, the point of entry for many buyers, inspires in consumers some confidence (often misplaced, alas) that the entire purchase flow will understand their mobilized context.   

2 comments about "Mobile Users Losing Patience With Un-Optimized Email".
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  1. Pete Austin from Fresh Relevance, July 4, 2013 at 4:43 a.m.

    Why is deleting emails on your phone any indicator of quality? I delete 100% immediately, because I already read them, I can always read the online copy if I need to see them again, and I don't want to lose customer data if I lose my phone. The increase of people who do the same as me is hardly surprising, given the number of security scare stories and that people are increasingly being held responsible if they endanger their customers.

  2. Steve Smith from Mediapost, July 4, 2013 at 7:43 a.m.

    Agreed, Peter. But the survey was asking about how the user responds to a specific circumstance of a poorly rendered email. the suggestion is that people are deleting before reading these emails if the sender is not taking a mobile device into account. There is always the possibility the vendor gets a second at bat on the desktop later. But the unsubscribe behavior is at 30%.

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