Email Is Mobile?

When over half your audience is triaging email on their mobile device, isn’t it fair to say that email is mobile?  We are well past the tipping point for mobile penetration, over 51% of media consumed being consumed on mobile devices, according to comScore. 

As an industry, we tend to think of email and mobile as viewing email on a mobile phone — but when I ask how your email program is affected by your app or mobile Web strategy, I get blank stares. How many of you email marketers actually have an impact on what happens on your mobile Web site, or mobile in-app experience?

Mobile and email are just two parts of a complex omnichannel view of the world. Here are things I hear and see when talking to people in email roles that are a bit mind-numbing when you think about the larger picture:

-- The Web and mobile Web experience is typically not influenced by email marketing.



-- The mobile app strategy is often slow and siloed and fails in most companies.  If you are too slow to release, you may miss a window; if too fast, you may build something no one will use. There’s a reason why there  are over 2 million apps in the Google store, 2 million in the Apple app store, and another 1.5 million combined in Windows Store, Amazon Appstore and Blackberry world.

Over 35% of apps last less than one minute.   That means you have one minute of user experience before they delete or never come back.  Why would you want to be involved in something set up to fail?    

-- Mobile app notifications are rarely designed by email people.  Strange, considering it’s essentially text and a few limited creative things you can do, and it’s behaviorally driven, right?

-- Advertising?  Email marketers don’t think about the mobile ad experience.

If all these issues exist, then how do you go horizontal with your messaging strategy if you are not involved in the mobile strategy, outside of knowing that 55% of the people you send email to are viewing it on a mobile device?   

Why don’t CRM people really care?  The metrics! With such a small percentage of people converting through mobile devices, why would they?    

Email people typically think in terms of converting that 2% and exposing that 15%-25% to their email creative.   When you see mobile click and conversion rates at a fraction of that of a laptop or tablet, it’s not that interesting statistically.   

But many are missing the real value mobile brings to those sending millions of emails a year.   Mobile provides another view into the customer that other channels don’t provide:

Location:   When you have an email and home address you can make some assumptions, but most email markers don’t really care where you are.  That’s a mistake. Location is a window into many other customer factors: lifestyle, lifestage, and, potentially, buying/shopping, leisure/travel behaviors  

Time of day:  While email time of day is typically driven by marketers (morning) vs. when consumers want it, mobile again provides a glimpse outside that campaign window when people may be transient and in or out of buying mode.   

Mobile behavior is a loyalty factor:   6”-8” screens, app experiences that are very simple in nature.  Connecting this and direct response is a tandem that can dramatically impact product immersion, aid shopping experiences and brand recall at the point of purchase.

In the world of omnichannel, the channel is not the proxy you need to optimize, but the combination of channels together, and the net sum of the effort.   

As Stephen Covey once said, “You can’t change the fruit without changing the root.”  Dig into your mobile strategy. It will help you with your email programs.

3 comments about "Email Is Mobile?".
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  1. Randall Tinfow from CLICK-VIDEO LLC, August 8, 2016 at 3 p.m.

    Interesting data from our email efforts on behalf of B2B clients to their customers and subscriber lists:

    Between 9AM - 5PM, 47% of opens are on smart phones.
    Before and after work hours, 81% of opens are on smart phones.

    Another juicy insight:

    For video links in email, user persistence to 5 seconds is 16% higher when video is in vertical format rather than horizontal.  I can only speculate about the reasons.  

  2. Chuck Lantz from, network replied, August 8, 2016 at 7:50 p.m.

    Randall: Here's a somewhat educated guess on why vertical video is more popular than horizontal; ... on smart phones and tablets, vertical is the default orientation when viewing. This is especially applicable when the device isn't set to automatically tilt views.

  3. Randall Tinfow from CLICK-VIDEO LLC, August 9, 2016 at 9:54 a.m.

    To be more specific with speculation, when people open email on a smart phone it is almost always in portrait mode.  If they click on a link and the video opens horizontal and small, it doesn't have near the impact of a screen filling vertical video. 

    Those are reasonable and informed assumptions, but as a data scientist and analyst, it makes me uncomfortable to have hypothesis without proof.

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