As mobile devices have grown in sophistication, they’ve become an integral part of our daily routine.
Checking emails has become one of the most common uses of smartphones and tablets, with the percentage of opens on mobile devices hovering between 45 percent and 50 percent today versus 29 percent in January 2012. And given that two-thirds of consumers prefer to receive communications from brands via email, many retailers have been looking for new ways to enhance the mobile email experience.
Never is this more important than during the November/December holiday season, when interactions between businesses and consumers are at a peak. Holiday mobile use has been increasing steadily in recent years, with mobile traffic growing to 31.7 percent of all online traffic on Cyber Monday 2013, a 45 percent increase over 2012. Mobile sales were also strong last Cyber Monday, exceeding 17 percent of total online sales, an increase of 55.4 percent year-over-year.
This trend toward increased holiday mobile engagement looks likely to continue in 2014, and I expect that 35 percent of all click-throughs on Black Friday and Cyber Monday will happen on a mobile device. The nature of how shoppers interact with these emails, however, will differ greatly based on the type of mobile device they’re using.
“Lean In” vs. “Lean Back”
Smartphones drove 19.7 percent of all online traffic on Cyber Monday 2013 compared to tablets at 11.5 percent. But when it came to sales, the figures were reversed: Tablets drove 11.7 percent of all online sales, more than double that of smartphones, which accounted for 5.5 percent.
This makes sense when you think about mobile context. Smartphones are “lean in” devices, often used when people are on the move and prone to distraction – strolling the shopping mall, riding an escalator or standing in line waiting to make a purchase on Black Friday, for example. Tablets are more of a “lean back” device – think relaxing on the couch after a big Thanksgiving meal, for instance – that are more conducive to lengthy browse and shopping sessions.
Since both types of mobile devices are critical to holiday engagement, marketers must optimize for each, providing a stellar experience whether contacts are glancing at emails on a smartphone while walking to their car or lounging in bed with a tablet after a day of holiday celebration.
Crossing the Mobile Chasm
The good news for mobile shoppers is that many marketers have awoken to the importance of the mobile experience. As a result, 2014 is shaping up as the year that retailers crossed the chasm and began delivering a superior customer experience on smartphones. We’re seeing simpler, more mobile-friendly emails with larger fonts, bigger buttons and fewer calls to action, along with copy and layout that are more conducive to mobile engagement.
As the best marketers begin looking beyond responsive design techniques for new ways to enhance the mobile experience, here are three trends I see emerging among elite marketers during the 2014 holiday season:
1) Adding email content that enhances the mobile experience
With mobile interaction on the rise, there are a ton of new ways for email marketers to improve the buyer journey, such as:
- Offering stored payment options that “remove the friction” for mobile buyers and make buying one-click easy
- Promoting items such as holiday gift cards that simplify the shopping process
- Inviting email contacts to connect via mobile by downloading a mobile app or subscribing to an SMS program
Using these approaches and more, smart retailers will be building out new email content this winter with an eye toward mobile engagement.
2) Remarketing to mobile browsers
With so much process abandonment taking place among on-the-go mobile browsers, there’s a growing understanding among marketers that some smartphone users who don’t complete a desired call to action either had a poor small-screen experience or simply didn’t have the time (or both).
The 2014 holiday season, then, will be the first in which top marketers begin focusing on remarketing to these customers. Look for more remarketing emails, sent a few hours after the mobile browse abandonment took place, aimed at connecting with customers when they might be back on their tablet or desktop computer.
3) Incorporating dynamic content into broadcast messages
During the Black Friday/Cyber Monday time period, the emphasis for many retailers is on email volume, using the channel as an advertising tool for keeping brands top of mind. However, the smarter and more successful marketers will be using customer behaviors to trigger dynamic content within these broadcast emails. They’ll also be supplementing their general emails with automated, targeted programs based on past purchases – a special campaign for previous gift card buyers, for example.
Employing tactics to make your emails memorable is critical in a mobile buying landscape in which retailers need on-the-move customers to retain their emails until they’re ready to act. If you want to give mobile contacts a reason to come back to their inbox, click and convert, you’ve got to deliver more engaging messages.
For more 2014 holiday marketing predictions, news and data, visit the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark Hub.
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