Mobile Web is Holding up Mobile Email Optimization

Bryce MarshallMany major and mid-size brands have been slow to optimize their email campaigns for mobile device users. Yet today there is a wealth of available information – hard data – on the impact of mobile device users on marketing email programs. In fact we publish a bi-annual report showing just how many of our clients’ emails are viewed from what kinds of mobile devices. On average over 40% of all emails are viewed on a smartphone or tablet, and for many of our clients it is well over 50%. This data shows that click and conversion rates among mobile device users tend to lag behind those of PC users in programs that are not optimized for mobile.

In addition there have been several guides published on responsive email design. The data is available for all email marketers which clearly demonstrates the importance of mobile optimization.

With all the resources available, it is not lack of awareness, education and wherewithal that is preventing brands from optimizing their email programs for mobile engagement. There are so many consumer brands who understand the importance of mobile email optimization but have reached a tall hurdle: their web site is not optimized for mobile.

I have heard it many times over: “What is the point of optimizing your lead generation media for mobile users if your lead conversion platforms are not also optimized?” This is the conundrum. Brands who have not yet prioritized mobile optimized sites or mobile commerce are in a sort of purgatory. Online marketers see the opportunity for improved digital and direct response performance fidget uncomfortably as a steering committee tries to establish a business case and roadmap for mobile optimization of the enterprise site.

How do brands move through this purgatory? We have had success with a step-by-step process for testing and validating the value of mobile optimization of the web and commerce experience. It looks something like this:

  1. Use available data from providers like Knotice to quantify the business impact of mobile devices on email engagement and site conversion in terms of hard data, instead of high level surveys or aggregated reports.
  2. Build a simple business case based on hard numbers: failure to optimize for mobile users is costing the business X dollars per month, per year.
  3. Use the business case to fund incremental improvement. This could include a smaller, lower-investment test campaign including a single SKU or family of products, where a responsive email campaign and dedicated mobile landing page (and potentially mobile commerce functionality) is developed. The goal is to bypass the significant overhead required to optimize the brand’s entire web footprint and product catalog, but instead achieve this for a scaled campaign. This will minimize the number of stakeholders impacted and control the downside risk, and clear the path for testing.
  4. Measure the real-world results of mobile email and mobile web working hand-in-hand, taking the business case from theoretical to actual.

Every brand’s scenario is different. But by using a measured approach which takes complexity and risk out of the equation may help remove barriers to web optimization, and therefore email optimization as well.
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