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Zeta Interactive

Guest Blog, Rupert Harrison: Moving mobile for email marketing…

In a prevalent ‘mobile first’ society, Rupert Harrison, planning director at Zeta Interactive, explains the rise of its incorporation into email marketing, and how marketers and brands should be cautious in monitoring its engagement level, the design and how it will fit into the overall ‘marketing mix’.

We live in a ‘mobile first’ world. Take a look at any bus stop or queue for the bank and the majority of people will have their mobile phone in hand. It’s no surprise that 50 per cent of consumers use email ‘on-the-go’, according to the DMA Email Tracking Study 2015. That means that half of brands’ email interactions with consumers are on mobile, so it’s important to get it right.

But the hype around ‘mobile first’ has led many brands to oversimplify their thinking when it comes to mobile engagement. Yes, mobile creates the opportunity for brands to target customers in any place, at any time – but email marketing via mobile is so much more than a one-way route into consumers’ pockets.

It goes without saying that email design must be responsive to mobile devices, so that the customer experience is as good as possible when the message is viewed on mobile. However, it is also critical that marketers make good use of the data available to them to understand the context within which content is consumed, and deliver the right messages accordingly.

Striking the right tone

Mobile takes the relationship between brands and consumers to a new level of intimacy. Email marketing is already a very personal medium: as a means of delivering highly personalised content, it is the real definition of one-to-one marketing. But brands can derive powerful insights by looking at location and device type, as well as time of day, dwell times and interaction rates – allowing them to make their communications hyper-relevant to every customer.

Of course, this is a good thing. But such intimacy can quickly turn invasive if it misses the mark, and marketing that is poorly targeted or overbearing can feel particularly intrusive for customers. True personalisation is speaking softly to an audience, not yelling in their ear.

Over half (51 per cent) of consumers believe that just one-30 per cent of emails are relevant or interesting, according to the DMA; a figure that has risen steadily over the past four years. And consumers do unsubscribe from brands that no longer interest them, or if their content is inappropriate or uninspiring. By smarter targeting and better understanding of the customer mind-set and situation when they are engaging on mobile devices, marketers can improve engagement and reduce the cost of getting it wrong.

Moments of insight

But mobile gives brands the opportunity to go further and use the channel as an ‘early alert system’ providing insights for a wider marketing campaign.  Think of mobiles as mini ‘vote now’ devices and you get the picture.  The ‘moments of insight’ afforded by these interactions can be fed into a segmentation engine that allows brands to target their customers in a more intimate way.

So, businesses need to be wary of placing too much emphasis on ‘mobile first’, take a step back and think smartly about where mobile engagement fits into the overall marketing mix. Only by thinking in more holistic terms can brands ensure they make the most of the “moving target” opportunity.


Rupert Harrison is the planning director at Zeta Interactive. He has extensive experience of data driven communications and customer journey planning across direct, digital, social and offline and has worked at a wide range of companies, including POSSIBLE, News UK and most recently as head of comms planning at VCCPme.

Zeta Interactive is a digital marketing and smart data company working with over 250 brands worldwide.  It was recognised as one of the 50 most promising private companies by Forbes in 2014 and has featured twice in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Marketing Hubs.