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Locating Your Customers in the Multi-Channel Maze

  |  August 18, 2014   |  Comments

As customers increasingly diversify where they are opening emails, spending time online, and making purchases, it's harder for marketers to keep track of them. How can we maintain personalization in the multi-channel space?

Since the release of the iPhone 3G (remember them?!) and with the imminent arrival of the iPhone 6, mobile commerce has grown exponentially. In the U.S., the size of the market has increased from $2 billion, to a staggering $40 billion.

In the four years between 2010 and 2014, customer behavior in the mobile channel has evolved dramatically, and keeping track of the changing trends presents a huge challenge. This is leaving marketers asking themselves, "How do we make sense it of it all, and make the most of the opportunities it presents?"

The trouble for many marketers is that while mobile devices make up more than one-third of all visits to online stores, they only generate around one-quarter of online sales. However, low conversion rates aren't only an issue on mobile. When you look at the overall online picture in the U.S., conversion rates remain at approximately 4.3 percent. This indicates that the vast majority of consumers do still prefer to go in-store to purchase an item, regardless of whether they've carried out most of their browsing from a mobile or desktop device.

Improving online conversion rates and harnessing the full power of mobile will be a top priority for many marketers over the coming year. The rise of mobile may no longer be the "new thing" in marketing, but optimizing it so that it generates the greatest possible return for businesses is a challenge that most companies are still trying to overcome. 

Recent research conducted by Adestra reveals that the proportion of companies optimizing email for mobile devices increased by 22 percent from last year; an encouraging statistic suggesting a growing number of marketers are now aware of the benefits of incorporating mobile into their activities.

It's crucial for brands that want to offer customers greater personalization, and want to improve conversion rates, that all relevant touch points of a customer journey are optimized for mobile and tablet devices.

This is highlighted by a recent report from Google, titled "The New Multi-Screen World: Understanding Cross-Platform Consumer Behavior," which reveals consumers take a multi-device path before making a purchase: almost two-thirds (65 percent) start the buying process on a smartphone, 61 percent then continue onto a laptop, and 4 percent continue from there to their tablet.

As a starting point, it's important to evaluate how your customers prefer to read emails, which desktop devices, tablets, email clients, and browsers they are using; do customers favor Outlook over Apple Mail, for example? Google Analytics can be used to obtain this insight, as it provides a range of useful data on the technology being used by customers and prospects, such as the favored browsers, OSs (Operating Systems), and resolutions of all site visitors.

Similarly, Adestra's Email Client Report enables companies to see which devices and OSs recipients are using to view emails, providing clear insight into their audiences' mobile v desktop split - vitally important when designing campaigns.

Testing is another important part of this process, as the rise of mobile has led to an increasing number of email clients, all of which render content slightly differently. To ensure emails appear perfectly every time, you need to test how your email appears across every possible platform, from Blackberry to iPhone, Android, Windows, Gmail, Outlook, and beyond!

Some forward-thinking companies are taking mobile marketing one step further in an effort to reach customers wherever they are, by including SMS (short message service) capabilities as part of their email marketing campaigns. SMS is a clever way to garner customer interaction and engagement. It provides an additional channel for companies to reach their customers and can be used to alert people to unread emails, or to act as bridge between a company and a customer when emails can't be received.

Having said that, SMS, or mobile for that matter, is clearly not going to be a magic bullet, but it can help marketers craft increasingly effective campaigns. Consumers now expect relevant and personalized content through multiple channels and multiple platforms. This is where the future lies for email marketing, and all marketers should capitalize on the many opportunities a multi-device path to purchase undoubtedly presents.

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Steve Denner

Denner is the co-founder and director of Adestra, and is highly experienced in developing email solutions, having headed up teams responsible for bringing four separate email applications to market. A veteran of 13 years' experience in the industry, Denner has worked with many organizations on delivering technical solutions to real business challenges and goals.

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