If email marketers aren't leading the way in designing not just for a mobile-friendly world, but for a mobile-first one, they are missing out on huge conversion and marketing opportunities.
In 2011, Marc Andreessen said, "Software is eating the world."
In 2013, BEA said, "Mobile is eating the world."
In 2014, The Atlantic said, "Mobile is devouring attention. "
And now, mounting evidence shows that email is eating mobile.
In the report that we released earlier this month, "Email Everywhere: Adapting to the Mobile Nature of Email," we found that email opens on mobile devices are about to cross the chasm. By 2015, more than 50 percent of all emails will be opened on mobile devices, defined as "smartphones and tablets."
Email is the canary in the coal mine for e-commerce. How long can we require consumers to use two devices - a smartphone or tablet and a desktop computer - to buy from us?
I'll admit it. I hate buying things on my phone. Not because I don't want to, but because it is so inconvenient. I'm standing, my wallet is in my back pocket, I'm more likely to get interrupted, my phone might bug me with a notification that takes over my screen. There are so many ways that the awesomeness of the smartphone gets in the way of mobile engagement.
When you send me that awesome deal and I see it on my smartphone, I am very likely to click. Funnily enough, according to our data, I am actually more likely to click on a smartphone than I am on a desktop, but only half as likely to convert.
Email marketing - whether we are talking about e-commerce or publishing - is based on a holy trinity of actions: Open, Click, and Convert.
Sure, opens by themselves are great. Heck, some people even think just SEEING a subject line creates lift. But now that you've got the open, you want the click. The good news? Mobile openers click. So mobile isn't breaking email.
But here's where things get complicated. Where mobile users over-index for open rate and clicks in email, they fail to convert at an equivalent rate. Email still drives more conversions on desktop.
Is a lower mobile conversion rate the chink in email's armor?
Jeff Bezos might have caught onto this before anyone else. Amazon is about to release the Amazon Fire Phone, which is optimized for its own shopping app, and it comes bundled with Amazon Prime. We'll see how that pans out in the future.
The lessons for every OTHER retailer are clear. If you are designing your post-click experience to be mobile-friendly, but not mobile-first, you may only be delaying the inevitable. PC sales are in decline, mobile is ascendant forever, and email apps - and email marketers - have no choice but to lead.