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“Chicken or egg” – optimising email and mobile

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By Colin Grieves | General Manager, Experian Digital Media Services

August 22, 2012 | 4 min read

Many businesses that approach Experian CheetahMail have been confronted by a 'chicken and egg' situation: do you optimise your emails for mobile devices even when the pages that the emails click through to aren't optimised for mobile? In an ideal world, the answer is simply - no. Every Marketing 101 student will know that there needs to be continuity in messaging, and the touch and feel of the customer experience should be uniform and catered for from start to finish.

However, faced with the realities of running a business in the current climate, only a small percentage of organisations are able to implement a 100 per cent mobile optimised experience for every communication that goes out to customers. Recent stats have shown that some 70 per cent of businesses have yet to launch a mobile site, despite the fact that the continuing rise of mobile browsing and mobile email in the UK makes a compelling case for creating sites and emails specifically optimised for mobile devices.

So what if a business is faced with a decision between optimising the email or the site first? Our recommendation would be to work on email first. This allows businesses to bring users into the sales funnel which is a crucial step on the way to conversion. Of course by taking this action, businesses accept that there is going to be a certain low level of drop-off and that the end-to-end experience could indeed be better, but the key here is that they increase the chance of conversion through better optimisation. While conversions don’t necessarily have to come from a click, by optimising for mobile businesses can boost the number of people engaging with their content and potentially converting offline or at a later date.

Those businesses who have taken the first steps into mobile will already be aware of the challenges in terms of ROI attribution faced by mobile. Businesses need to trust that by optimising emails for mobile devices they are very simply taking a step that can only have a beneficial result. While such a belief won’t help when it comes to budget/resource allocation, it is important that organisations use some common sense and have a clear understanding of the financial risks involved.

On the flip side of this, by not optimising email for mobile users, businesses run the risk of missing out on significant amounts of revenue as growth in mobile email continues to increase rapidly, with CheetahMail clients seeing 100 percent year on year growth in emails read on mobile, and finding that the majority of opens take place on mobile devices. Eventually, taking no action will result in email activity as a whole being undermined, as businesses miss out on a wide section of customers..

There is still one (slightly hackneyed) avenue left open to businesses that prefer not to primarily optimise for mobile: mobilise only those messages that offer timeouts and immediate value to users on a mobile device. By creating bespoke campaigns in this way, engineering landing pages that will ensure usability and optimisation for a particular time period or campaign element, marketers can ensure a campaign that targets mobile devices. But we need to understand that this is a short term solution, and creating campaigns like this will be unsustainable in the long term.

The meteoric rise of the mobile as a means to communicate with customers via email has left some businesses behind. Those that are only just beginning to adapt need to realise quickly that email must be mobile optimised to future – proof the business.

Whilst there is no denying the urgent need to adopt a mobile mindset, it is important to understand that many businesses are faced with the same resource challenges – many organisations reading the above points may not be able to make the necessary wholesale changes to their business. As such the above points will hopefully comfort those businesses who are feeling left behind and give them a clear indication of which steps to take to ensure they are heading in the right direction with regard to their mobile efforts.

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