Category Archives: Email Marketing Insights

Are Email Opens on Smartphones Smart for Business?

mobile-ecommerce-sales

With more and more email opens taking place on mobile devices – but not necessarily purchases – many email marketers have been faced with a new uphill battle to prove the impact of their efforts on revenue. The question they keep getting from management goes something like this: “smartphones are smart, but are they smart for our email marketing business?”

Looking at aggregate data from leading retailers who are currently using Movable Ink’s Insight module within our new agileEMAIL platform, it’s clear that email marketing to mobile users is a critical driver of sales, even if the final sale occurs somewhere other than on smartphones themselves. Here are some of our preliminary findings:

  • A little over 60% of consumers who initially open their email on a smartphone end up purchasing through desktops, with another 25% purchasing through tablets. Only 15% of smartphone-first openers complete transactions on their smartphones.
  • Consumers who open email on a smartphone or tablet first, and then convert on a desktop, have a 14% higher average order value (AOV) than desktop-only purchasers.
  • iOS device users outspend Android device users by more than 20%. This is consistent with other studies we’ve seen tracking the differences in mobile shopping behaviors between iOS and Android users. With Movable Ink, you’ll now have the ability to unearth the precise AOV of your email subscribers based on the devices they are using.

We’re excited to see how these trends take shape across different verticals, different geo-locations, time of day, etc., and how the numbers will evolve over time.

Please let us know what you think about these early findings by posting a comment below. Are you surprised? What other data would you like to uncover?

Lastly, if you’d like to know more about Movable Ink’s agileEMAIL platform and our Insight module, request a demo and one of our product specialists will get back to you shortly.

New Research from Movable Ink Shows Surging Tablet Use by US Consumers

Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 3.31.29 PM

More and more Americans are turning to tablets when it comes to interacting with consumer brands, according to a new research report from Movable Ink. The data reveals that 18.5% of marketing emails were opened on a tablet in the first quarter, up from 16.5% from the previous quarter, and from 13.8% when Movable Ink first started reporting on device usage statistics in Q2 2013.

The Movable Ink “US Consumer Device Preference Report: Q1 2014” also shows that there are only 13 states remaining where desktop email opens exceed smartphone opens. By comparison, the country was evenly split just nine months ago, when Movable Ink issued its Q2 2013 report, underscoring how rapidly the mobile takeover is occurring.

“Mobile adoption continues to grow, and tablets are playing a bigger role in the mix,” said Vivek Sharma, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Movable Ink. “Marketers should be laser focused on what we call “next tap optimization,” which is all about making it easy for consumers to engage with brands and shop when using their smartphones and tablets.”

The quarterly report provides deep insight into the popularity of various devices, examines differences in consumer engagement based on the devices they use, and shows how device preferences vary across the nation. Unlike other studies, this data set exclusively includes results from large, enterprise B2C marketers.

Key findings include:

  • Two-thirds of all email opens took place on mobile devices. 66 percent of emails were opened on either a smartphone or tablet device, up from 65% in Q4 2013 and 62% when Movable Ink issued its first report in Q2 2013. Desktop accounted for a new low of 34% of email opens, a decline from 35% in the previous quarter.
  • Tablets stole time-share from desktops – and from smartphones. This quarter’s study marks the first time that tablet didn’t just chip away at desktop time-share, but at smartphones as well (smartphones accounted for 47.2% of opens in Q1 2014, versus 48.2% in Q4 2013).
  • Apple asserted its dominance over Android. iPhones and iPads accounted for 54.5% of all opens in Q1, compared to 49.9% in Q4. Meanwhile, Android devices combined for 10.8% of opens, down from 14.4% in Q4.
  • Android and Apple traded places when it came to time spent viewing emails. Slightly more than 40% of Android smartphone users viewed emails for 15 seconds or longer, compared to 35% of iPhone users. In Q4, 38% of iPhone users lingered the longest on messages, compared to 35% of Android smartphone users.
  • Smartphone usage peaks in the early morning, tablets in the evening. New data revealed how device usage varies by time of day.

The full report is available as a free download here.

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About the Movable Ink “US Consumer Device Preference Report: Q1 2014”

Charts are based on data collected through Movable Ink’s agileEMAIL platform between January 1 – March 31, 2014. They reflect aggregate statistics across Movable Ink’s customer base, which includes more than 150 enterprise B2C marketers from the retail, travel, financial, media, and telecommunication industries. Because determining email opens requires images to load, the percentages for some devices might be over or underrepresented.

The Electoral College Map of Email Opens: Q1, 2014

CDPR_MapChartsBlog

We’ve been hard at work poring over billions of data points to prepare our soon-to-be-released “US Consumer Device Preference Report: Q1 2014″, and wanted to share a sneak peak of one of the charts we’ll be sharing examining how device preferences vary by geography.

Our state-by-state analysis reveals the continued trend towards smartphone dominance. New additions to the smartphone state club in Q1 2014 included Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon, and Wyoming. Also, new in Q1, Mississippi overtook Texas as the nation’s top smartphone state, approaching 60% of all opens.

This map has gotten progressively pinker over the 4 quarters that we’ve been issuing the report, and now only 13 desktop states are left standing. For a bit of perspective, when we issued our first US Consumer Device Preference Report just 8 months ago (which looked at Q2 2013), 23 states were either heavy or leaning desktop, so the landscape is shifting towards mobile at an amazingly fast pace, and the “Electoral College of Email Opens” can now safely be described as a landslide for smartphones.

To download our past research reports, visit our Resource Center.

Methodology

The map is based on data collected through Movable Ink’s agileEMAIL platform between January 1 – March 31, 2014. It reflects aggregate statistics across Movable Ink’s customer base, which includes more than 150 enterprise B2C marketers from the retail, travel, financial, media, and telecommunication industries. Because determining email opens requires images to load, the percentages for some devices might be over or underrepresented.

Making the Most Out of Gmail’s Visual Promotions Tab: 5 Things Marketers Need to Know

Gmail Visual Promotions Tab

Contributed by Eric Szuhany, Senior Account Manager, Movable Ink

With the dust still settling from Gmail’s recent image proxy changes, and last summer’s roll-out of the Promotions tab not yet forgotten, Google has done it again. Last week, Gmail announced on its blog the launch of “a new grid view [which] will bring to the top of your inbox key images from deals, offers, and other marketing emails if you have the Promotions tab enabled.” The update is still in beta, and requires users to opt-in to take part, but it is sure to shake up the email marketing world if and when it is rolled out to all users. To help marketers prepare for the changes, we have put together a list of 5 things you need to know.

1.   You can (and should) choose the image to display as the featured image
If you are like most marketers, you meticulously craft and test your subject lines in hopes of optimizing open rates. Would you let Gmail use an algorithm to choose one line from your email to use as the subject line (while cutting out a few words from each end)? Don’t leave it up to chance—you may end up with no image, an off-centered image, or a visually unappealing one (some examples below):

Gmail New Visual Promotions Tab Example

Ensure your recipients have the best experience by defining which image Gmail should feature image. The recommended size is 580 x 400 pixels. To ease the demand on your creative resources, consider cropping and resizing your hero image to fit the recommended dimensions. Check Gmail’s developer resources for more information on implementation. While you’re there, also check out the section on Google+ verification to include your brand’s logo as your sender image – otherwise Gmail will default to display the first letter of your brand’s name.

2.   Use live content to power the featured image
Don’t go changing up your entire email template just to fit in a 580 x 400 hero image – the featured image does NOT need to be a part of the actual email. This gives you greater freedom to design specifically for the Promotions tab without sacrificing the designs and templates you have created. The creative that works best in your emails may not be optimized for the Promotions tab. Consider going bigger and bolder to stand out and get your message read by using Movable Ink content in the featured image, such as image personalization, countdown timers (non-animated), time-sensitive content, and more.

3.   Subject lines are now second (or third) in the email open formula
In the new grid view, the subject line is dropped all the way to the bottom of the section, and is also below your sender name which is displayed in a bigger, more prominent font. The subject line now becomes a caption for the featured image – read only when a user’s attention is first grabbed by the image. Ensure these two elements are working in tandem to create a cohesive, relevant experience for your consumers.

Gmail New Visual Promotions Tab Overview

4.   You don’t have to guess if your email landed in Gmail’s spam folder or if recipients saw, but passed over your email
With new functionality comes new reporting. Movable Ink provides the unique ability to measure opens on any image. As a result, we can track how many users saw your email in their Promotions tab, even if they didn’t open it. Use this data to update your sending habits:

  • Change the way you message those who view but don’t open
  • Determine the best time to send emails to avoid being buried in the inbox
  • Get a better sense of when an email address is truly inactive (and not just ignoring you)

 5.   Testing and optimizing are critical
This one doesn’t come as a surprise to any email marketer, but it is always worth reinforcing how important it is to test. According to a Fall 2012 study by MarketingSherpa, 72% of marketers test subject lines – making it the most popular email element to test.  With the diminished importance of the subject line in Gmail’s new grid view, the focus of testing should shift to the featured image. Take what you have learned from your subject line tests to begin optimizing your featured image to improve open rates. Keep an eye out for new Movable Ink features allowing you to make the most of your image testing and optimization in real-time!

Real-Time Content and Re-Open Tracking Return to Gmail

Gmail image caching updateBack in December, Gmail made a major overhaul to the way it processes email. Images started being proxied through Gmail’s servers, which changed the way that images are cached. As a result, images could now be immediately displayed to recipients (no more “click here to view images from this sender”), but at the same time, marketers lost the ability to track email re-opens and the ability to serve relevant, real-time content upon re-open was limited.

What Happened at Gmail?

Image caching on the web and in email is controlled through headers, which are sent back with images. The header informs the web browser or email client how long and under which conditions the image should be re-used before making another request to the server. In its initial rollout in December, Gmail respected the caching headers sent from the original server, but always served images to the user with instructions to re-use the same image for 24 hours.

Due to the 24-hour caching header, web browsers would see real-time content initially but not on subsequent re-opens until one day later. Since open tracking also relies on images, the initial opens registered properly but re-opens were cached and could not be tracked. There were some reported workarounds for re-open tracking, but they involved sending malformed data to the Gmail proxy and were not guaranteed to work.

The Return of Real-Time Content and Re-Open Tracking

Last week, the Movable Ink team noticed that Gmail had begun deploying updates to address the issues caused by its 24-hour caching. The cache still exists, but it is now overridable if you pass a no-cache header (example below).

HTTP 200 OK
Content-Type: image/png
Cache-Control: no-cache, max-age=0

This means that re-open tracking now works as it did before December’s changes. In addition, these changes fix a long-standing issue of Gmail temporarily caching entire emails when navigating between emails in Gmail. When using Movable Ink, these updates mean that whenever you open an email in Gmail, you can be sure that you are seeing the most up-to-date, real-time content on every open and re-open.

Top Takeaways from the MarketingSherpa Email Summit – Day 2

MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2014 Las VegasLast week, we shared a few of our top takeaways from day 1 of the MarketingSherpa Email Summit. After spending another day with email marketing’s brightest minds, we left the summit feeling energized and ready to take new ideas and put them into action. So that you can do the same, below is a recap of a few more of our biggest takeaways from the event:

1. Test, learn, adapt, repeat.
To discover what factors make someone say “yes” and convert—whether that conversion action is opening an email, a click-through, or making a purchase—marketers must “always be testing” along every stage of the sales funnel. With each campaign we launch, we’re faced with two options: go with our gut instinct and do what we think will appeal best to our audience, or conduct tests so that we can let our customers tell us what actually interests them.

During a few presentations, the audience was asked to guess “which test won” and vote for which image, call to action, subject line, etc. would outperform another. Sometimes we guessed correctly, and sometimes we learned that our hypothesis, for whatever reason, turned out to be incorrect.

The only way to know for sure whether a hunch is right or wrong is to test. Every test is a learning opportunity to fill a particular knowledge gap you have about your customers. A/B testing doesn’t have to be time-consuming. With real-time creative optimization, marketers can test and optimize emails on the fly. Check out this case study to see how The Taunton Press was able to double click-through rates using real-time creative optimization.

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Top Takeaways from the MarketingSherpa Email Summit – Day 1

MarketingSherpa Email Summit email marketing conference

The Movable Ink team headed out west to Las Vegas this week to join nearly 1,000 email marketers for the 2014 MarketingSherpa Email Summit. We’ve been surrounded by some of the brightest influencers in the industry—so it’s no surprise that our minds are jam-packed full of fresh, new ideas.

Below is a recap of our thoughts from the first day of sessions. We’ll continue to post updates as the summit goes on, so be sure to check back!

1.    Although the face of email continues to evolve, the core philosophy of marketing remains the same.
Marketing is driven by psychology, centered on the ability to appeal to unique aspects of human motivation. What exactly is it that makes us say “yes” and commit to a buying decision, especially when we’re faced with a number of competing options? In his keynote presentation, Dr. Dan Ariely, professor of Psychology & Behavioral Economics at Duke University and author of the bestseller “Predictably Irrational,” talked about the concept of “choice architecture” and how our environment determines the decisions we make every day.

So how does this relate to email marketing? Think of every email as an environment, and every click as a decision. In order to motivate someone to take that next step—such as clicking on a specific call to action—a marketer must not only make that choice crystal clear by minimizing any conflicting choices or distractions, but also by ensuring that each message is as relevant and valuable to every consumer as possible.

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New Research Shows Mobile Dominates Desktops with 65% of Total Email Opens in Q4 2013

Movable Ink US Consumer Device Preference Report Q4 2013Americans are ditching desktops, viewing marketing emails on their smartphones and tablets more than ever, according to Movable Ink’s latest research, the US Consumer Device Preference Report: Q4 2013. The data reveals that 65% of marketing emails were opened on a smartphone or tablet in the fourth quarter, up four percentage points from the previous quarter, while desktop opens slowed to a new low of 35%, down from 39% in the previous quarter.

The report provides deep insight into the popularity of various devices, examines differences in consumer engagement based on the devices they use, and shows how device preferences vary across the nation. This quarter’s report also include an exclusive look at device usage over the course of the critical 2013 holiday shopping season. Unlike other studies, this data set exclusively includes results from large, enterprise B2C marketers.

Key findings include:

  • Movable Ink Agile Email Marketing research mobile opensNearly two-thirds of all email opens took place on mobile devices. 65% of emails were opened on either
 a smartphone or tablet device, up from 61% in Q3 2013. Desktop accounted for just 35% of email opens, a decline from 39% in the previous quarter.
  • Tablet popularity continued to grow. Over 16% of emails were opened on a tablet, up from 15% in Q3 2013, and slightly under 14% in Q2 2013. Although Android tablets comprise only 1.8% of total email opens, this figure was twice as high as the previous quarter when they accounted for .9% of total email opens.
  • Android gained market share. Consistent with Q3, Apple smartphones and tablets accounted for 50% of total email opens. But Android smartphones and tablets represented 14% of all email opens, up from 10% in the previous quarter.
  • iPhone users spent the most time viewing emails. 38% of iPhone users spent 15 seconds or more viewing each message. Android smartphone users came in at a close second, with 35% spending 15 seconds or more viewing an email.
  • This is the first time that no US states were “heavy” desktop users. Texas remained the most smartphone friendly state, now with over 57% of emails opened on a smartphone (up from 53% last quarter). Although Maine and Vermont maintained their positions as the top two states for desktop use, the percentage of total emails opened on desktops in these states declined to under 50%, as smartphone popularity continued to spread across the nation.
  • Thanksgiving was the biggest day for smartphone use over the holiday season, whereas Cyber Monday was the biggest day for desktops. On Thanksgiving, nearly 60% of marketing email opens occurred on smartphones. While still beat by smartphone opens (45.5%), Cyber Monday showed the strongest showing for desktops, with 40% of all marketing email opens.

“This quarter’s report shows that we are in the midst of a mobile takeover,” said Vivek Sharma, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Movable Ink. “In the new year, we expect marketers to continue to place high priority on mobile optimization which will allow them to better engage consumers who are on-the-go with relevant, real-time offers.”

Download the free report here to access all of our findings and analysis.

Back to the Future: Gmail Turns on Images in Email

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UPDATE: Since this post was originally published, real-time content and re-open tracking have returned to Gmail. Learn more in our latest post on how Gmail handles images.

If you’ve been an email marketer (or user) long enough, you might remember a time when you didn’t have to “click here to display images” in order to see images inside of an email. Several large email services began suppressing images by default in the mid 2000s as part of their efforts to protect users from the rampant, uncontrollable messaging abuse that was taking place back then.

Images in email were a primary mechanism for not only confirming live email addresses to spammers, but also for delivering fraudulent phishing emails and dropping viruses and other types of malicious code on users’ desktops. Anti-spam technology has come a long way since those dark days, and today most consumers rarely, if ever, see unwanted and harmful messages in their inbox.

Last Thursday, December 12, Google’s Gmail email service clarified the reasoning behind its recent image handling changes and announced that going forward, all images will be displayed by default in the Gmail inbox. Gmail openers will now immediately see your email with on-brand creative, offers, and clear calls to action. If you are using agile email marketing technology to personalize emails at the moment of open, then you’ve just been given a much greater opportunity to make the sale.

Auto-enabled images provide a better consumer email experience, and are an opportunity for marketers to present more relevant offers. The majority of what Movable Ink offers still works on Gmail (web crops, countdown timers, creative optimization, video) while others (geo-targeting, weather targeting) will work when passing in the location data you have on file. Device targeting is the one real lost opportunity on Gmail, although if Gmail continues to innovate and decides to support media queries, this could change.

Auto-enabling images will give agile email marketers a better opportunity to deliver creative, memorable, and engaging campaigns that stand out in the inbox, and in turn drive increased customer loyalty and conversions. The increase in the number of opens we can expect to see at Gmail is a net positive and, in the long run, a win for both marketers and their customers.

Texas is the Most Smartphone Friendly State: WFAA-TV Dallas/Fort Worth Broadcast Report

 

Texas is the most smartphone friendly state in the country, with over 53% of marketing emails opened on smartphones. WFAA-TV, the ABC affiliate station for the Dallas/Fort Worth metro area, recently shared these findings from our US Consumer Device Preference Report, Q3 2013 in the above TV broadcast.

Do you live in a smartphone state or a desktop state? The chart below gives a look at the top 5 states for smartphone and desktop use, based on the percentage of email opens per device. Download the full report to see a detailed breakdown by state, as well as more device use findings based on Movable Ink’s aggregate email open data from over 100 enterprise B2C brands.

Email Opens by US State Movable Ink Q3 2013