Using Email to Close the Smartphone, Browse-To-Buy Gap

Feb 14, 2015 1:56 PM  By

Apple, Apple Pay, ecommerce, mobile payments, omnichannel, mobile wallet, Google Wallet, iOS 8.1, iOS, iPhone, iPhone 6If you’ve ever tried to shop from a mobile phone, you likely understand the perils of browsing and buying from your device.  The customer experience – and thus, conversions – is often negatively impacted by various mobile browsing issues creating the “browse-to-buy gap.”

Many things account for this gap, including clicking from a mobile-friendly email to a non-mobile website or landing page, distractions and multitasking by the mobile shopper, or dealing with awkward or time-consuming registration and payment process on a small screen can all prevent browsers from turning into buyers.

If you are feeling the pain of this gap, you are not alone: this holiday season, smartphones drove 40.6 percent of total online traffic, yet only lead to 16.3 percent of total online sales. The numbers, while not surprising, are jarring, but don’t be discouraged.

A key approach to solving the low smartphone conversions rate challenge is to better leverage the email channel, which is typically the number one activity on smartphones. According to IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark, more than 46 percent of Cyber Monday emails were opened on mobile devices (or tablets).

Despite the existing browse-to-buy gap, email has the potential to help remove conversion roadblocks and become a prime selling channel for retailers. Addressing the various mobile hurdles may seem challenging, but retailers who make small tweaks to make their email marketing mobile friendly will reap the rewards.

If marketers identify simple ways to make email and mobile work together, they will win customers, drive sales and keep customers coming back – even now that the busy holiday season has wrapped.

Following the successful 2014 holiday shopping season, here are four tips to start testing and tweaking so you’ve got your program optimized and ready for the 2015 holiday season:

Educate Smartphone Users

Start the season off right with (mobile-friendly) educational emails. Smart retailers start their pre-holiday season prep with an educational introduction email, which offers consumers important information up front, such as an overview of digital shopping tools available, return policies, and shipping guidelines.

Be Responsive

When you develop these emails – and other emails throughout the year – use mobile-friendly or responsive design techniques to make sure your emails are easy to engage with and act on via small, touch screen.

Responsive design, for example, can simplify your message to only showcase the most important content – with fewer offers, bigger icons and call-to-action buttons, larger images and fonts and less copy. Clunky designs look even clunkier on a mobile device and will not inspire your customer to click ‘buy’ – and with a sea of competitors, retailers need to make sure their emails stand out from the pack.

Make Payments Simple

Mobile users are often on the go and frequently browse retail sites in short bursts – like when they are waiting in line in the coffee shop. That context doesn’t always lend itself to pulling a credit card out – and even if it did, customers don’t always have the time to complete the purchase. Marketers should leverage email to educate subscribers on how they can make their mobile purchase experience quicker and easier. Let you customers know if you offer in-app payments, or if you offer a stored payment solution such as PayPal or Amazon Payments.

Catch Them Later

Adding a ‘remind me later’ button to emails adds convenience for customers who are pressed for time – an engaging touch that will improve their browsing experience. This ‘remind me later button’ asks for their email address, and will send an email with product information and a link back to the product page. Send a soft, service-oriented reminder email to those who haven’t clicked or converted in a set time.

With the holiday shopping season in the rearview mirror, retailers are taking a look back at their successes and translating lessons learned into improvements for 2015. One takeaway from the holiday season is the potential for email to boost mobile marketing efforts.  In 2015, marketers should look beyond making their website mobile friendly, but also ensure their marketing emails are mobile ready. By leveraging tactics like responsive design, remind me later buttons and other convenient mobile touches, marketers can help close the dreaded browse-to-buy gap. Mobile is where marketers should be ready to meet their consumers – and customers expect to be greeted with a seamless mobile customer experience.

Loren McDonald is Vice President of Industry Relations at Silverpop, an IBM Company.

  • Eddy Swindell

    Love to see some examples, especially of “catch them later” emails. I haven’t seen this much in a mobile site / app and I’d like to. We also think it’s important to be able to tie mobile and desktop browse behaviour together in order to provide a joined up experience with personalised communications.
    Eddy Swindell

  • daisy

    By clicking from a versatile well disposed email to a non-portable site or point of arrival, diversions and multitasking by the portable customer, or tedious enlistment and installment transform on a little screen can all keep programs from transforming into purchasers.We also serve email marketing via email campaigns and this help in transferring telemarketing data.