Mobile, Facebook Messaging & Email Marketing

Bryce MarshallPart 2 of 2
On Monday as I recapped the Email Evolution Conference, I started with social media as one of the three takeaways from the event. To review, these three represented the three important dynamics that clearly are impacting everybody in the room. These are themes that everyone at the conference can take back to their office and immediately incorporate into their strategic plan – regardless of their industry/vertical, target audience, list size, budget, or resources. First was social media. Now let’s get into the others.
Takeaway #2: The impact of mobile

Surprisingly, I saw more discussion about the impact of mobile (smartphones) on email, then the impact of tablets on email. Clearly thought leaders understand that consumers’ use of mobile to view emails changes the game in fundamental ways. Especially when Knotice’s own data shows that verticals like retail are impacted at a relatively high level, with 20% or more of all email opens on average occurring on a mobile device.

However, email marketing thought leaders are focused on how the email renders in the mobile experience – more so than how users’ behavior and habits change when they check their inbox through a mobile device. And the latter dynamic is far more important than the former.

Generally speaking, marketers are having a hard time getting a true sense as to when and how their email recipients are interacting through mobile, and whether they find these experiences convenient and productive, or frustrating and unrewarding. As more email marketers accumulate hard, useable data on which individuals in their database consistently interact via mobile and the nature of their experiences (including the marketer’s own ROI calculations), email marketers will naturally develop more comprehensive top-to-bottom mobile experiences. These mobile experiences are in parallel to – or instead of – desktop experiences that pass muster with mobile consumers and impact the bottom line.

Takeaway #3: The email address lives on, and so does email marketing

Facebook + Email. These two words are causing a good amount of consternation in the email marketing community following the announcement and launch of Facebook Messages. Facebook Messages is a logical progression for the Facebook empire and makes complete sense to consumers in a way that Google Wave didn’t. But instead of foretelling the death of email at the hands of social media, the opposite is true. The value of the email address and the role of the inbox in the life of everyday consumers is validated in a big way.

As I’ve argued before, the email address is the second most important form of personal identification for a majority of consumers in the U.S. (only behind the SS#). In one of the panel discussions at the Email Evolution Conference, my friend David Daniels correctly pointed out that an email address is necessary to register or complete just about any online transaction. They’re also the key for establishing and confirming identity, not to mention receiving critical communications.

The concept of the inbox is not going away. But the concept of the inbox and what it means to consumers, and the nature of interaction with the inbox and the message are changing significantly, quickly, and forever. With social media, Facebook Messages, mobile email, domain-reputation-scoring ISPs, it’s apparent that the technical and tactical framework is changing. But the pace of change of the American consumers’ habits, preferences and expectations towards the inbox is the more meaningful sea-change to email marketers.

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