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While Mobile Use Continues to Rise, Email Marketers Continue to Lag

Sep 25, 2013   |   3 min read

Knowledge Center  ❯   Blog

mobile use on the riseAs a bevy of studies have shown that, despite the skyrocketing adoption of smartphones, the majority of email marketers are not customizing their emails for mobile devices. This has many experts shaking their heads (and wagging their fingers) as they continue to warn email marketers about the perils of ignoring the mobile market.

New studies by Yesmail and Marketing Sherpa add more support to these findings, showing a majority of email marketers still not formatting their emails for mobile devices, even though they profess it is in their best interest to do so.

Yesmail’s Mobile Study 2013, which analyzed the results of more than five billion emails, showed “marketers have failed to account for the shift to mobile by not optimizing emails read on a mobile device.” The study found that 30 percent of consumers read email exclusively on a mobile device, while 61 percent read at least some of their emails on a mobile device.

Overall, the survey showed many marketers are providing their customers with “a poor mobile experience,” said Yesmail president Michael Fisher. The findings showed a big difference between open rates and click rates on mobile devices, which means many consumers are disregarding mobile emails, said Fisher.

Like many experts, Fisher warned that the failure to adopt emails for mobile devices was limiting the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. “Brands need to implement mobile-first strategies that rely on responsive design, customized content and easily clickable calls to action,” said Fisher, “otherwise their messages will be deleted or go unread.”

More Evidence of Mobile Malaise

Marketing Sherpa’s 2013 Email Marketing Benchmark Report also found a large majority of email marketers (79 percent) lagging in the mobile channel. “When it comes to mobile email design,” said Marketing Sherpa, “a majority of marketers do not currently design email to render differently on mobile devices.”

As in other studies, a gap was seen between the recognition of mobile’s importance and real action being taken by marketers. The respondents said they viewed the pervasiveness of mobile devices as the one development that will most affect email marketing programs in the next 12 months. Yet when asked about their current practices, only 21 percent indicated mobile marketing was integrated into their email program.

Marketing Sherpa’s survey showed that about 25 to 27 percent of email subscribers are reading email on mobile devices, which is in line with Yesmail’s findings of 30 percent.

Don’t Forget the Landing Pages

Overall, Marketing Sherpa’s survey found email marketers are treating mobile devices as more of a future than current consideration. Moreover, as Marketing Sherpa points out, mobile-optimized emails are just the starting point of a comprehensive mobile initiative. Website landing pages also must be optimized for mobile devices, otherwise the email itself is of limited effectiveness for achieving conversion goals.

As one respondent to the benchmark survey lamented, “All of the content on our website needs to be available for us on smartphones and tablets if we’re to truly promote it in email.” However, the magnitude of this challenge, which can involve website teams having to coordinate with email marketing teams, may be a big stumbling block keeping companies from committing to mobile initiatives.

Warnings Abound

Experts in all quarters, meanwhile, continue to hammer home the message that email marketers are playing a risky game in ignoring the mobile channel. In “Mobile Is Key to Improving Your Email Marketing,” Chief Marketer Network’s Tim Parry cites Forrester Research a forecast that 78 percent of email users will access their messages via a mobile device by 2017. Unfortunately, he points out, merchants are not keeping up.

Parry points to an MCM Outlook 2012-13 study in which only 29.5 percent of respondents said they have a mobile commerce site. What’s more, Parry notes, just 13.4 percent claim their ecommerce sites are optimized for mobile devices, and 47.3 percent said they are not using mobile commerce at all.

A recent eWay Direct study also found “marketers are slow to adapt to mobile devices and incorporate them into their marketing efforts.” eWay Direct CEO Neil Rosen said he was surprised by the findings that showed there are more marketers not optimizing their emails for mobile. That’s going to have to change quickly, said Rosen.

Rosen also noted the discrepancy between the amount of chatter being devoted to the mobile channel and the relative dearth of initiatives. “I looked around the web at some of the conversations going on about mobile, and the contrast between the fact that everyone’s talking about it and most marketers still aren’t doing anything about it is stark.”

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Photo Credit: Ed Yourdon

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