I’ve discussed how more than 50% of all email isopened on mobile devices. This is what you might call a “known known.” This fact is a great ice breaker at a marketing conference, however when you consider that more than 33% of all holiday shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday came from a smartphone, the conversation elevates from casual to game changer. If that’s not enough to get you thinking about small screens and their power, then consider that 61% of all web traffic came from mobile devices! Not only are we engaging more with email on our mobile devices today, but we’re also shopping, browsing and spending oodles of cash on our smartphones and tablets.
The mobile mindset
We all know the basics at this point: single column designs, bigger buttons, clearer calls to action and media queries/responsive designs that create as uniform an experience as possible across the seemingly limitless set of platforms and devices used to access email and the mobile shopping experience. However, there are other considerations to be had in the coming months and years regarding the mobile experience. Mobile experiences are about utility and understanding how mobile shoppers open, engage and convert. Questions that need asking include: Are they converting on the mobile, web or through an app? Are emails adequately deep linked into shopping apps to minimize the friction from browse to buy? What percentage of your consumers are using iOS versus Android? These are basic questions that you need to begin asking when the fog of 2019 clears and the sun breaks through the clouds of 2020.
Preparing for a more branded mobile inbox
A cross-industry coalition of companies are working on a new standard for improving the visibility of email in the inbox while providing incentive for the sending community to publish and enforce email authentication. Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI) will allow legitimate senders to publish a trademarked logo in DNS that will be displayed by a participating mailbox provider such as Yahoo! or Gmail if they’ve properly set up and aligned their email authentication records.
Why should you care?
The inbox is under regular assault by bad actors who weaponize emails and hijack or phish brands in order to defraud recipients. For as much trust and utility that email has provided the internet, it has also created a massive gap in terms of security. Over the years, companies have tried to help educate and empower recipients through visual trust indicators such as lock icons and colored messages about the identity of a sender. Most of these don’t mean much to the average recipient – at the end of the day most people are not security experts. BIMI has the potential to change that by securing who can and can’t use a logo and then displaying that logo in the native mailbox provider, or next to emails that pass muster.
You have the opportunity to have your logo seen by a recipient before they even open an email, if you take the necessary steps to secure your sending domain through SPF, DKIM and DMARC. Brand impressions are important to stay top of mind—having the brand displayed in the inbox can be a massive differentiator. Consider the struggle of mobile apps on a device: the average mobile user has upwards of 90 apps on their device but barely uses a third of them. Over 20% of apps are abandoned after just one use – but email still remains one of the top three activities done on a smartphone. The inbox’s list view, or the view of all emails in the inbox, has been a completely unbranded experience until now. When that changes, a huge opportunity will open up for brands.
Google AMP for Email comes to mobile
In November of 2019, Google began to roll out the AMP for Email experience on Android and iOS. The interactive mobile inbox presents new challenges and opportunities for bold retailers and e-commerce companies willing to spend the extra time to code and test AMP MIME Parts. Like BIMI, taking advantage of AMP for Email will require senders to publish and align their email authentication records. A new mobile inbox that’s both interactive and more visibly branded will potentially be a more secure inbox, so long as companies understand that email must be protected from a whole host of phishers and cybercriminals actively working to exploit the channel.
Since interactive emails will allow recipients to get status updates, view fresh content, and respond directly in an email to things such as invites and comments, senders will have to begin tracking the efficacy of the new mobile inbox versus native mobile apps and mobile web sites. It’s one thing to deliver a mobile experience – it’s another to understand the impact of the experience versus existing mobile properties. Additionally, there will need to be parity in data that is displayed in emails versus that which is available in an app or on the mobile web. This has always been a requirement but the timing aspect has changed. As recipients, we’ve all experienced a situation where the offer we received, time-sensitive or not, either wasn’t available, had expired or wasn’t quite what we had anticipated when we clicked a link in an email. Now that the recipient’s experience will remain in the mobile inbox, and as it grows and becomes yet another source of truth, senders will have to take extra precautions to ensure that the curious and restless minds that switch liberally between an app and an inbox with dynamic content are given the same up to date information to prevent confusion and disengagement.
Mobile is everywhere – and it’s becoming more challenging. Smartphones introduced an incredibly small screen and format, and if the new Motorola Razr takes off the way it’s predecessor did in the early 2000s, we may have to tackle the nuances of foldable screens as well. What happens if Motorola decides to add a screen to the front of the device as the original had? Anything is possible in the mobile world, which is why it’s rife with opportunity.
Mobile’s impact on email is not to be underestimated – we need to understand that mobile email is simply an adaptation of what we’ve been doing all along, but in a compact form that requires channel and platform-specific thinking. Before mobile, we were worried about rendering across desktop and web browsers and how no two mailbox providers would render email quite the same way. Mobile introduced new formats and wrinkles, but it also put email in everyone’s pocket in ways we’d never before imagined. The thing about mobile is that you have to measure it on its own merits and think of it as a unique means of engaging with your customers. Measure, test, iterate, measure, test some more, and make sure that your email isn’t dismissable and forgettable – because if it lacks visibility and usability in the forthcoming mobile inbox, it will be forgotten in this hyper-interactive world.
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