3 Tips for Boosting Email Marketing Tap-Through Rates

With 66 percent of email opens now taking place on smartphones and tablets, the age-old click-through rate should be taking second fiddle to the “tap-through rate” as email marketing’s most coveted KPI. With that said, we still see too many marketers optimizing for desktop clicks while ignoring mobile taps. This results in poor user experiences and lost opportunities.

Here’s a prime example from LinkedIn (sorry to pick on you LinkedIn, but this needs to be said.) I’d wager to say that LinkedIn enjoys a high mobile app download rate among its business users, but its mobile email experience is completely broken. LinkedIn sends a ton of email trying to drive engagement — from connection requests, to “who’s viewed your profile” notices, to notifications when your connections get new jobs or post something interesting. But clicking through on a mobile device opens a web browser instead of your already-installed app, forcing you to enter your login credentials and undoubtedly leading to incremental drop off.

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Which leads us to… Tip #1: Deep Link to Mobile Apps Deep linking removes friction from the mobile email experience by enabling consumers to launch installed mobile apps and specific pages within apps. This makes it easier to complete actions — and transactions — on mobile devices. Here’s an example from eBay where one tap on an image of a sandal in an email leads to firing up the eBay mobile app and the product that the user wants to see.  With one more tap the item can be added to the user’s shopping cart and one tap later, purchased and shipped since the user’s billing information and address are already stored securely within the app.

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Tip #2: Let Users Tap to Call Users who are on the go and have questions about your products or services that might be easier to answer over the phone than via a mobile app or m-site can be given the option to tap to call via real-time device targeting.  It’s as simple as adding a tap-to-call banner to the smartphone version of your email template.  Here’s an example from TheKnot showing the desktop version adjacent to the smartphone version with the tap to call banner at the top of the message.

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Tip #3: Get Users Social Sometimes your most desired next tap might be getting users to spread the love about your brand or products on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other popular social networking apps, which account for some of the most widely downloaded apps in the world and can be counted on to be installed on their smartphones and tablets even when your own app isn’t. Deep linking technology can be used to launch third party applications, and you can even include a pre-populated message for users to share. Here’s an example from Comedy Central that got thousands of its subscribers tweeting to promote a new show — and it only took two taps for them to do so.

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Mobile email opens keep rising as a percentage of total opens each quarter, and while smartphone opens may be stabilizing at a little under 50%, tablets continue to eat away at desktop market share and aren’t showing any signs of relenting.  The time to optimize for tapping through instead of clicking through is now.

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*For more tips and case studies featuring mobile email tap-through rate optimization, check out the recording of our recent webinar, “The Mobile Takeover“.

Clients Corner: Best Western Increases App Downloads 143% With Deep Linking and Device Targeting

The Worlds Largest Hotel FamilyBased in Phoenix, Arizona, Best Western International Inc. was founded in 1946 by California-based hotelier M.K. Guertin as an informal referral system among its member hotels. Since then, Best Western has become the world’s largest hotel chain and a familiar presence in more than 100 countries. Each of its 4,000+ hotels is independently owned and operated, further engraining the spirit of good service throughout the company. Cassie Spillner, Kelly Saffo, and Ryun Lambson of the Best Western Marketing team shared with us how they are using Movable Ink to achieve their goals and deliver highly relevant and engaging campaigns at scale.

Movable Ink: Why did you decide to partner with Movable Ink?

Best Western: Every month we send over 20 million emails to our opt-in list and that’s a mix of newsletters, promotions, and lifecycle emails. We want to make our emails as relevant and interesting as possible but our systems have technological limitations. The partnership with Movable Ink has helped us overcome them and now we can send dynamic real-time content in email.

For Example, before agileEMAIL, we couldn’t do a real A/B test without conducting a full 50/50 split. Now we can figure out which creative performs best in real time, ultimately increasing engagement and revenue. Knowing we don’t have to send a “loser” message to half the database ever again is awesome.”

MI: How has it been working with Movable Ink so far?

BW: The Client Experience team is on top of everything and they are quick to respond. We had one campaign where we needed some help writing HTML.  We sent a note over to CX and they responded quickly, helping us properly write the HTML.  They even included notes so we can do it right the next time. Franki Silverman and Elizabeth Ray have been great to work with!

MI: We’ve been partnered for a few months now, what has been your favorite use of agileEMAIL so far?Best Western Used agileEMAIL's Deep Linking To Increase Mobile App Downloads

BW: There are two that stand out for us. First, we wanted to increase downloads of our mobile app and had identified an opportunity to promote it to subscribers in our welcome emails and reservation confirmation messages. We tested agileEMAIL’s deep linking and device targeting capabilities on a list of over 1 million Rewards Members and found that they drove a 100% increase in downloads. It worked even better for non-Rewards Members, increasing downloads by 143%. Because of the success, we decided to permanently add app download promotions to our welcome and reservation emails.

MI: That’s a great idea. What was the other you had mentioned?

BW: The other was when we wanted to test which offer would drive greater engagement, an offer for rewards points, or a discount code to buy flowers from one of our partners for Mother’s Day. Movable Ink’s creative optimization feature let us do this in real time, allowing us to show the majority of recipients the discount code, which was driving higher engagement. Then we paired creative optimization with geo-targeting to show recipients localized offers in our destination specific campaigns. There were 21-targeted regions in the campaign, and it lead to a 12% click-through rate improvement from our rewards members and a 10% improvement from our non-rewards members.

MI: What are your future plans for agileEMAIL?

BW: So far, Movable Ink has helped us increase our revenue per message by 20%. The solution works so we want to incorporate agileEMAIL’s features and functionality into more campaigns across the customer lifecycle to further increase the performance of our email programs. Data from agileEMAIL’s Insight module has helped us understand who is using bestwestern.com, the devices they are using to interact with us, and how to target them for better results. Next on our list is integrating real-time content from our site and social media channels into our email programs.

MI: Thank you Cassie, Kelly, and Ryun for your time!

Are Tablets The New Household PC of Record?

Surface Pro 3 Launch Event in New York City on May 20, 2014

On the subway ride into work this morning, I read about Microsoft’s unveiling of its latest tablet, the Surface Pro 3. What caught my attention most was the revelation that Microsoft execs aren’t positioning the device as an alternative to Apple’s iPad, but rather, against its most popular laptop, the MacBook Air.

The timing of Microsoft’s product launch couldn’t be better: with our upcoming webinar on “The Mobile Takeover,” our team has been poring over the underlying numbers from our latest US Consumer Device Preference Report, and the data suggests that tablets are, indeed, becoming the new go-to household PC of record.

How so?

First, because over the last year, smartphone email opens have been relatively stable at slightly under 50%, while desktop opens have steadily declined, and tablet opens have steadily risen. You can easily see these trends in the chart below:

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Second, from a day-parting perspective, we’re seeing that tablet email opens peak in the evening hours, when people get home from work (and when they’d be more likely to do their web browsing on a luxurious large screen instead of their smartphone’s small screen). And, in fact, tablet and desktop opens are currently nearly even between 8 and 11pm.

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From an email opens market share perspective, look for tablets to continue making the largest percentage gains quarter over quarter. There is still a lot of room left for tablets to grow.

Desktops and laptops may never completely disappear from the face of our planet, but tablets may someday soon replace them entirely from our living rooms.

*For more information on the latest trends in consumer device adoption and usage, make sure to attend next week’s “The Mobile Takeover” webinar, Thursday, May 29th at 1pm EDT.

Clients Corner: Auto Trader UK Increased Engagement By Sending Real-Time Weather-Based Driving Tips

Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 4.20.56 PMEvery month, Auto Trader UK sees over 11.5 million unique users carry out over 140 million searches of more than 400,000 new and used vehicles across mobile, tablet, and desktop devices. Matt Dyson from Auto Trader UK sat down with us to share how they are using agileEMAIL to further provide value to their users beyond their core buying/selling vehicles business:

Movable Ink: Why did you decide to partner with Movable Ink?

Matt Dyson: We wanted to create an end-to-end email experience that is really engaging. agileEMAIL lets us add personalized content to our messages that our back-end systems couldn’t provide in real-time. We also wanted to stream content from our website into email, and do it in a stylized and attractive manner. Movable Ink allows us to do just that.

MI: What has been your favorite use of agileEMAIL so far?

Auto Trader UK Weather TipsMD: We had an idea to geo-locate where our subscribers were opening our newsletters, and then serve them relevant driving tips in those messages based on their current weather conditions. The aim of introducing real-time weather-based driving tips into our email was to retain longer-term brand engagement by providing our subscribers something innovative, genuinely useful, and something original that our competitors aren’t doing. Our editorial team came up with driving tips for many weather conditions and time of day, so that if it was raining outside, our reader received 3 tips for safe driving in the rain.

MI: That sounds great. How long did it take to launch and what were the results?

MD: It took Movable Ink and our agency Chalk & Pixel four days to launch it from idea to execution to over 300,000 people. agileEMAIL drove a 93% increase in click-throughs for us on this one.

MI: How has it been working with Movable Ink so far?

MD: It’s been really good. The Client Experience Team is really accommodating to our requests and quickly figures out how to create elements that are custom when they are not straight out of the box. I never get a “No,” and always get a “let’s figure out how to do that for you.” Then it’s simply copy and paste of HTML into our ESP.

MI: What are your future plans for agileEMAIL?

MD: We are going to increase the use of the web crop feature and make it a staple of our newsletters and welcome campaigns. Our next step is to completely automate a motorbike newsletter with agileEMAIL comprising up to 80% of the content. I wanted to do a bike email for a while, but we don’t have resources to do it in a timely manner. With Movable Ink I can set it up, schedule it in our ESP, and the rest works on it’s own. Our company is looking to do more work with video and on-the-fly self-optimizing content this year too.

MI: Thank you Matt for your time and insights!

[WEBINAR] The Mobile Takeover: It’s Real. It’s Here. Get Used to It.

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Mobile email opens have grown consistently for the 4 quarters that Movable Ink has been releasing the US Consumer Device Preference Report, and it’s a relentless trend that we don’t see abating anytime soon. Our latest study, the US Consumer Device Preference Report: Q1 2014 found that two-thirds of big brand marketers’ email opens now take place on mobile devices (smartphones and tablets), and today, even more email is opened on iPhones than all desktops combined.

The age old “click-through rate” has been replaced by the “tap-through rate” and email marketers must evolve their strategies and tactics to effectively engage with consumers in the mobile inbox. This involves everything from changing how emails are designed, to adopting deep linking technology, to re-thinking the way that conversion data is captured and attributed to email marketing campaigns.

To help marketers rise to the challenge of the mobile takeover, we’re excited to announce our next webinar “The Mobile Takeover: It’s Real. It’s Here. Get Used to It.” Taking place on Thursday, May 29th at 1pm EDT, speakers will include yours truly and my brilliant industry colleague and friend Bonnie Malone, Director of Response Consulting at Return Path. (You can watch the two of us teaming up to take on the email append dark side at the MediaPost Email Insider Summit two years ago here).

Bonnie and I are working hard to put together an informative and educational webinar that will include:

  • An in-depth analysis of the latest findings from Movable Ink’s “US Consumer Device Preference Report: Q1, 2014”
  • Innovative approaches for creating winning omni-screen email designs
  • Examples of leading brands who are using agile email marketing technology and best practices to optimize the mobile email experience in real-time

We hope to see you on the line next Thursday. Space is limited, so click here to register today!

The Problem with Predictive Analytics

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Though some might object, most marketers would likely agree that relevance is an important factor in driving optimal email program performance and revenue.  Marketers are frenetically capturing, then filtering terabytes of customer data in an attempt to find that needle in the haystack that will tell them where/why/how each individual is most interested.  The difficulty is that there are an almost infinite number of data sources, and much of it is only relevant at the point in space and time at which it is captured.  Given the time it takes to structure and filter the data, then trigger or launch a campaign, the opportunity to most effectively leverage it is often long passed.

Typically, marketers do not use their email database as their Database Of Record (DBOR).  Instead, customer data are captured from various points (web clicks, views, purchases, forms, social, apps, 3rd parties, etc.) and stored in a DBOR, while email interaction data (opens, clicks) are stored within a separate email database.  It isn’t until all these data are merged that we can begin to tell a story of the individual customer.  Though some claim a “real-time” connection between the two, most email platforms only merge the data once every 24 hours.  In our era of perpetual motion and continual connectivity, 24 hours, or even 2-4 hours is sooo 2000-LATE.  Static and historical data certainly has value, but it is often out of context to the present moment.

Marketers understand this challenge, and many have turned to predictive analytics to optimize relevance.  While this often does bring some lift, one quickly reaches the ceiling because the practice still largely relies on static or aging data points, continual data refreshes, and a big fat guess.  So much time, effort, and budget is expended in trying to control the data, and usually it’s a losing fight.  Marketers can’t control data any more than we can control the individual customer.  Truthfully, the only one controlling customer data is the customer.  The customer has ultimate control over when the email is opened, where it is opened, or on what device, and such contexts are some of the most important factors to relevance.  If you believe that, then you probably also have to believe that the most critical moment occurs not when the email is sent, but rather when it is opened.

Evolution

Marketing is a continual evolution, and those at the front of the March of Progress have grown beyond Predictive and have begun using Agile email solutions, such as Movable Ink, that detect and leverage “time-of-open” data, such as time, location, device, even the weather to render contextually-personalized experiences.  For the uninitiated, I’ll explain by way of example… In the average database, my profile would tell you that I’m male, 38, live in the Bay Area, where it is often cool (I don’t mean in a hipster way…grrr) and foggy, and past purchases indicate a penchant for outerwear.  It might seem a reasonable assumption for a retailer to send me an email compelling me to take advantage of a remnant inventory sale on Member’s Only windbreakers, and if I download and purchase via their super-slick mobile app, I can celebrate an additional 15% off!  I’d be powerless to resist, right?

But remember, only the customer controls the data.  It just so happens that I’m writing this blog post on my laptop, while visiting clients…in Chicago…where it’s presently 86F with 90% humidity.  Given my current disposition, what would I want with a jacket…or an app download?  (I mean, I would want that Member’s Only jacket, but sure as hell not right now.)  Time-of-open data would have told the marketer that I’m not home, it’s hot where I am, and that I’m reading it on a laptop rather than an app-enabled device.  What I really want right now was the t-shirt/shorts email, linked to the specific product page. Predictive Analytics can’t predict such vagaries and variables.  Open-time optimization can.

Are Email Opens on Smartphones Smart for Business?

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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

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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

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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.