Monday, 26 September 2011

Four lessons to learn from mobile email

Although our Direct Commerce Buzz newsletter, covering appointment news, client wins and the latest stats, has only been in existence for a couple of months, in that time we’ve been inundated with research into mobile commerce. From the findings that 87 percent of retailers believe mobile commerce will impact shopping in the next two years, but only 16 percent have a mobile strategy in place, to another study that says 11 percent of smartphone owners now shop online via a mobile device on a weekly basis, to the news that 16 percent of emails are viewed on a mobile.

With that in mind, I decided to carry out my own bit of research. I looked several emails I'd received to see how well they render on an iPhone and what lessons could be learned.

Lesson 1: The alternative view
Homeware and apparel cataloguer Orvis realised its email was best viewed on a webmail or desktop device, rather than on a mobile (see below). To help the smartphone user get the most from the email, Orvis included a link to view a mobile version of the email. Unfortunately, the theory was better than the practice.

When I clicked on the “view mobile version” link within the Orvis email I was presented with a text-based page inviting me to add Orvis to my address book, but there was no mention of the other offers. By all means strip down the email so that it loads more quickly, but don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater (below).

Lesson 2: The landing page

The Holding Company, a marketer of home storage solutions, did much better. The email fit within my iPhone’s screen and was simple to navigate. I had just three choices: “up to 50% off sale”, “interdesign 50% off” and “multibuy savings”. The buttons were big enough that I could click on them without having to magnify the screen. So far so good.

Where The Holding Company let me down was in the landing page. While its email was clutter-free, the same couldn’t be said for the page I was directed to after clicking “multibuy savings”. A lot of pinching and scrolling was involved to see everything on the page. You know the adage, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression”, that’s true for the landing page, so think about it from all angles.

Lesson 3: The fiddly discount code
Entertainment products etailer The Hut did nearly everything right. Although the email was not optimised for mobile, it was still easy to navigate and work out the gist—I haven’t shopped for a while, here’s 10 percent off. The landing page was optimised for mobiles and getting to my desired item was easy.

Armed with my code I was ready to shop. Locating the discount box was stress-free and entering the code would have been easy too, were it not for the fact it is a 14-digit code (12 numbers, 2 dashes). Thank heavens for copy and paste. If possible, think about using more mobile-friendly codes.

Lesson 4: Beware the partial download
If there’s an email in my inbox that doesn’t get read, it’s the email which has only partially downloaded. Take this email from Tesco, for example, it has an enticing subject line: “15% off when you pre-order Harry Potter + £20 off any TomTom sat nav!”, but I’m guessing too many images in this email made my iPhone give up trying to download it all in one go.
When I clicked to download the rest of the message it took nine “flicks” to finally get to the bottom of the email. Perhaps Tesco should consider a “view this on your mobile” option? In any case, if I received this email and I wasn’t connected to Wi-Fi, there’s no way I would spend my 3G allowance on it. You’d have to have a very special bond with a customer to persuade them to spend their money just to open your emails.--MT

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