Back in October I attended the launch of the Email Tracking Report in London, which was a great event – with a great atmosphere and some refreshing new perspectives shared. It’s been a while and between moving jobs, I’ve been mulling over the findings from the report and the ideas shared at the event, and pulled a few together, with my own take on them here. The main themes were (surprise, surprise): device, relevance, and engagement. Let’s dive in.
Mobile campaigns impact brand before sales
According to the tracking report, people still don’t buy much on mobiles. Just 4% of respondents said they’d buy straight away on a mobile if they were emailed a product they liked. 39% of consumers who see a relevant email on their mobile will wait until they on a laptop or PC to purchase. Instead, consumers are using their mobiles as an email management tool – to skim subject lines and delete emails. When they get to their laptop, they’re looking at an already filtered list of emails that they have decided to keep…so far.
This left me wondering if this new behaviour reduces the negative impact of irrelevant messages, because they’re now deleted in a context where that’s the specific task and probably alongside multiple brands. People are engaging with emails on mobile in the way they engage with tweets – skimming headlines, dismissing anything that doesn’t trigger interest. Will we one day see a combined ‘inbox’ where tweets, emails, facebook statuses, SMS, and other ‘micro messages’ from brands are all viewed from one interface?
What you can do about it: if you want your messages to survive the mobile inbox so they can be acted upon on another device, you need a relevant and descriptive subject line and pre header, and a mobile template that helps viewers skim your content. Just don’t expect to see a dramatic uplift in sales on mobiles – it’s just not how people shop right now. One smart tactic I have seen used is the ‘send me this email later’ call to action. I will be trialling this in my own mobile-responsive campaigns and will keep you posted.
Consumers expect email relationships
The number of consumers that say they want to be rewarded for their loyalty has almost tripled since 2011. Consumers are subscribing to fewer brands than before. 55% don’t access emails at work, so when your marketing messages get read by most consumers it’s their own precious time they’re spending. All round, consumers are more selective. To me, these stats indicate a growing level of commitment on the consumer’s side – that subscribing means more than it used to, and that our email exchange is meaningful to them. It’s not one-way, or a one night stand, it’s a relationship.
What you can do about it: specifically deliver what your subscribers have asked for, in a consistent way. Make a concerted effort to find out what that is or was, and respond with the right stuff. Most importantly, keep in mind that the relationship is volatile and don’t threaten it with messages that disappoint. View email messages as part of an ongoing brand experience or relationship, as opposed to individual ‘campaigns’ in isolation.
Think harder about relevancy
Marketers are obsessed with relevancy, constantly trying to reach customers with exactly the right thing. And yes, relevancy is vital. But an irrelevant email is not a disaster. Take a look at these stats from the report:
1. A third of consumers say that over half the email marketing messages they receive are relevant.
2. They also said that they have now use mobiles, to delete the irrelevant messages without reading them.
What this means: If consumers perceive most messages to be relevant, it’s likely because they only sign up for, open and digest the relevant ones, especially now that they are using mobiles to ‘skim and delete’ the ones that aren’t.
What this means for you: keeping the mobile ‘skim and delete’ habits in mind, if consumers have to open email to work out that it’s not relevant, that creates a worse experience than having to delete it because the subject line tells you it’s not relevant, so aim to qualify opens with a descriptive subject line as well as aiming to make the messages relevant. That minimises potential disappointment all round. You should get less opens but your click through rate will go up. The right people will be opening. The right people will be deleting your emails which is not a bad thing. And if you’re not sold on that, check out the Open Reach report which explains more on this.
Better than sorting tabs and email ads
I was unsurprised to hear at the event in the report that consumers were not fazed by new inbox sorting technologies, like Gmail’s tabs. Of course as email marketers we think it’s a big deal.
Brands want to encourage loyalty and repeat purchase, and consumers have told the us they want to be rewarded for that loyalty. given the big three email providers are also the big three search providers what I want to see it them helping both of those parties meet those goals by integrating search and email.
The main opportunity I see is “promotions’” emails (as gmail call them) organised in the promotions tab according to search data. And vice versa.
For example, If I search online for a red toaster, and a brand has previously emailed me a deal on toasters, which I haven’t noticed – I want to know about it. I would welcome Google Search highlighting that (unopened, even deleted) message for me, for example, in my search results, or Google+ notifications tab. As a consumer, I’d value this, and as a marketer, I’d pay for it. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if Gmail were already using email engagement as one of the thousands of ways that they personalise search results. Has anyone seen evidence of this?
And that’s it. Credit where it’s due – the good and bad ideas above were seeded by the event’s speakers: Dela Quist from Alchemy Worx who got me excited about email again, David Cole from FastMAP who shared the data that gave us something to talk about, JC Mighty from DMG media who’s had the best quote of the day “Email is your shop window; social media is the coffee shop across the road.”, and Fiona Robson from the DMA who made sense of everyone’s ideas, as well as the tweets I read on the day.
The report is packed with stats and insight on that way consumers are engaging (or not) with your emails. Check it out and please do share your own thoughts below.