The Terrible Truth About Mobile Shoppers

Mobile shopping statistics show a hidden secret.For the past few years, we’ve heard that it’s “the year of mobile.” Companies are frantically building mobile-first strategies and websites because so much traffic is coming from mobile devices. Our own research has previously found that more than two-thirds of email opens occur on mobile devices.

There’s no doubt that people are browsing websites from tablets and smartphones. Last year, comScore found that mobile visits (mostly from apps) account for 60% of total web traffic. Organic mobile traffic is lower, at about 30% of total web traffic as of last year.

But does that mean that desktops are getting replaced by mobile? In the world of eCommerce, it looks like mobile devices are shopping companions, but desktops remain the shopping destination. Black Friday 2014 is a great example – while IBM found that mobile traffic accounted for about 50% of online traffic on Black Friday, mobile sales accounted for only 27.9% of total online sales.

So, really, more than two-thirds of online sales occurred on desktops during Black Friday last year. That shouldn’t be a surprise – at the beginning of 2014, research showed that desktops were converting at about a 50% higher rate than mobile devices.

The reality is that the “year of mobile” is always going to mean the “year of multiple devices.” And that has big implications for email marketers.

Window Shopping… in a Tiny Digital Window

Many people still prefer to purchase products on desktops. Often, that’s where shopping information and user profiles are already stored on websites like Amazon. It’s also easier to fill out fields with a keyboard and browse for products with a mouse. And, really, when we’re checking our emails or looking at a website on our phones, we’re probably just passing the time – we usually don’t have as long as we need to go through with the entire purchase.

Basically, mobile shoppers are window shoppers looking at tiny, digital windows. They’re looking at potential purchases, but might not actually buy something until later.

In all the excitement around mobile, don’t forget that customers are switching devices constantly. Your customers might be opening your emails on their phones, but they’re often completing the purchases on desktops.

But do you know where that user journey started and where it stops? And how can you make sure customers can easily pick up where they left off?

Completing the Mobile Shopping Cycle

Given that so many mobile customers are dropping off without actually buying something, businesses have two options to help bridge the gap: optimize your emails for every device or ensure that your content is always relevant.

Optimizing for devices requires contextual email marketing technology that can create responsive messages that will change depending on which device a customer is using at that moment.

American Eagle's mobile optimized emails increased app downloads by 231%.

For example, American Eagle improved app downloads by 231% by optimizing emails for different devices. When users opened emails on mobile devices, a hero image prompting an app download appeared front and center. On desktops, the sale was featured more prominently.

Encouraging app downloads also helps bridge the gap between mobile and desktop, making it easier to create a user profile where all shopping information is stored and the user journey is all contained within the app.

You also want to guarantee that the content customers see is always relevant. Ebay significantly increased engagement by ensuring that the content in emails was real-time – whenever one auction ran out of time, another replaced it. So if you saw the product on your phone but opened the email again on your desktop hours later, you would still have a chance to bid on a great sale.

Multichannel, Contextual Marketing

We’ve talked a lot about contextual marketing recently. That’s because, when customers can interact with brands across such a diverse spectrum of channels and devices, locations and environments, companies need to think “context.”

Mobile purchases are getting more popular, but desktops aren’t going away anytime soon. For the best possible conversion and engagement – on mobile and on desktops – businesses need to make sure customers can seamlessly interact with the brand from any device.

Email is a great way to start. By building emails that respond to devices with contextual content, companies can help ensure that mobile purchases are as easy as possible or, if customers wait until they get home, that the deal they saw in their inbox is still there – or at least as compelling – as when they saw it the first time.

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Want to learn how context can help brands take responsive design to the next level? Download our eBook, “Re: New Responsive Email Strategies.”