Using Mobile Applications to Improve Email Acquisition

The pervasive presence of smartphones in our society today presents the email marketer with new opportunities to improve email acquisition. Explosive mobile device adoption with its ubiquitous array of applications is swelling mobile advertising spending, which eMarketer predicts to reach $1 billion in 2011 in the U.S. The hypergrowth of mobile presents email marketers with a variety of new ways to capture email subscribers, including texting an email address to an SMS short-code, QR code capture, and mobile advertising. However, enlisting the correct mobile advertising approach is necessary to accelerate the return on mobile advertising spending and exploit mobile-to-email acquisition opportunities.

A study that my company conducted on behalf of Pontiflex finds that lack of ROI from mobile advertising is the biggest deterrent for marketers when it comes to increasing mobile ad spending in 2011. Specifically, 43 percent of marketers who aren’t planning to increase their mobile ad spending this year cite low ROI from mobile advertising as the number one reason that they won’t increase spending. Why is that? It’s hard to determine the ROI of in-application mobile banner ads and when it is measured, it’s typically not generating a high return. The survey found that 93 percent of marketers said they would increase mobile ad spending if they realized a higher return on their investment.

Mobile in-app banner ads are also not ideal because they disrupt the user experience. Clicking on these ads brings the user out of the application to a separate site that may not be contextually relevant to the primary application, further hampering the user experience. Such an approach to capture email addresses often leads to mistaken clicks on the part of the user. In fact, marketers aren’t satisfied with click-based mobile advertising either. My company’s survey found that 56 percent of Fortune 500 marketers are dissatisfied with or don’t use click-based mobile advertising. On mobile, click-based ad units aren’t valid options for mobile marketers focused on increasing ROI. Mobile advertising requires a dramatic shift that is both focused on and respectful of the user – honoring a good experience with meaningful engagement.

Email marketers should explore in-app mobile sign-up ads. With this type of sign-up ads, consumers can easily connect with brands and organizations, opting in for newsletters and special offers while they are within an application. With this type of approach, email marketers can run ads on top of apps and mobile websites and pay only for those consumers that complete the opt-in email sign-ups. This approach is favorable instead of an impression- or clicks-based approach, as marketers can build robust email lists and only pay for those subscribers that opt in. CafeMom offers content, community, and daily deals targeted at moms. Using performance-based mobile ads, CafeMom has been able to scale its email database, deliver more relevant daily deals, and recognize results based purely on the performance of these ads.

As the mobile Internet begins to supplant the traditional PC, based in terms of time that consumers spend online, email marketers must be prepared to connect their initiatives to mobile opportunities. According to my company’s survey findings, marketers understand the importance of mobile marketing and want to invest more, but they are seeking a new approach. Early adopters of effective mobile advertising options will see less competition and have a broader array of mobile ad inventory options than those marketers waiting until this market matures. In fact, marketers view mobile marketing as a priority in 2011; specifically, 54 percent state increasing email subscribers via mobile advertising programs is a top priority for their organization.

Given the persistent need for marketers to continue to grow email subscriber rolls, look into performance-based mobile to email acquisition opportunities. Since these programs are monetized by performance, the risk is low, so give it a try. You might be surprised by the results.

Until next time,

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