What You're Already Doing To Irritate Holiday Shoppers

You shouldn't wait any longer to adjust your mobile marketing strategy if you want to cash in on this year's holiday sales.
August 14, 2013

Conventional wisdom in the digital space tells us that the lion's share of sales revenue lies in mobile—to the tune of some $3 trillion in commerce by 2017, if you look at new projections from Juniper Research.

So what could online retailers and marketers possibly have to worry about? Perhaps it's that they're going to leave their part of that cash on the table because their mobile marketing outreach is poorly built.

One recent study, for example, looked at how consumers view mobile marketing emails at holiday time. The numbers are surprising. Turns out this kind of outreach, for some, is falling into a kind of impact black hole. And so, as sales departments turn their attention to the 2013 holiday season, recognizing the challenge that the new survey illuminates could mean the difference between rewards or frustration for businesses this coming fall and winter.

The 37% Problem

In the survey conducted by Campaigner, some 37 percent of respondents said they didn't quite know what to do with mobile marketing emails during the 2012 holiday season.

Only 6 percent said a mobile marketing email led directly to a purchase on their smartphone or tablet. What was the stated reason for this? Poor design and too many missives to sort through.

It seems that marketers aren't always as keen on what the user experience amounts to as they are in trying to blast their messages to the masses.

"While mobile commerce has taken off like a rocket, retailers still have a lot of work to do when it comes to developing their mobile channels,” says E.J. McGowan, general manager of Campaigner. “If customers can’t easily read or interact with mobile emails, retailers risk losing business."

Here's the breakdown of complaints:

  • 41 percent of consumers said mobile marketing emails ended up being too long, and also too tough to read because of choices about font and text size. They also said the ways that they were meant to interact with the message after reading the pitch proved unclear.
  • Nearly half the respondents said they got more than 50 marketing emails per day. About 10 percent claimed that their inboxes groaned under more than 300. Fifty-eight percent of the users said they simply delete mobile marketing emails without reading them.
  • Some 23 percent said that the problem with the emails was personality, or lack thereof—too many of marketers' pitches smacked of non-personalized content.

Reclaiming The Third

From a design standpoint, the fixes to most of these problems are more of a refresher in the basics that already apply to mobile apps than they are a newfangled strategy. Marketing emails need to be built along the same lines that make other mobile interactions succeed.

  • Make mobile email content visually interesting and easy to read on a very small screen. This means testing and collecting user-response data before hitting that final "send."
  • Create response-friendly links and buttons that make it easy for consumers to take action directly from a mobile email.
  • Use fonts, layout and imagery that are appealing and proven to be effective for responsive viewing.
  • And finally, write them with a personal touch. Marketing emails should use every recipient's individual name, and they should feel friendly and relevant to both the season and the interests of the users who signed up for your business's list in the first place.

Reclaiming the 37 percent who don't know what to do with these emails—and shrinking the 58 percent who no longer read them—that's a gift businesses can give to themselves this season.

Read more articles on marketing.

James O'Brien's work can be found at Mashable, Forbes.com and TheAtlantic.com. He writes about media, finance, business, travel, food, wine and tech.

Photos from top: Thinkstock, iStockphoto