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7.1m Brits now access the internet via their mobile phone, and that’s actually quite a lot! And, not only are these users generally more affluent, but they are also avid consumers of digital marketing.

The advent of truly mobile internet, and the incredible speed of adoption by the population as a whole, is causing a re-evaluation of web marketing.

Mobile web is the greatest revolution since the invention and adoption of the PC. That might seem like a bold statement to make, but the platform has changed.

Using the internet does not necessarily mean being stuck under a desk sitting at home or in the office. You don’t need to pull a laptop out of a carry case to use it, and you can even choose the size that most suits your needs.

The impact these devices are having, and the tide of change that is following in wake of their adoption is fundamental.

So what does this mean for digital marketers? How will mobile web change email marketing in the near future? What are the challenges this opportunity has created? And how do we ride this wave and grasp the opportunities that are being laid before us?

Game changing technology

It’s the device that’s done it; the truly mobile computer. The only issue is some devices still hold onto that archaic title “phone”.

The challenge with mobile internet has been that to make the most of the medium you need to easily interact with the device. This is what’s made the latest generation of mobile devices so different.

Even with the smaller screens, the superb resolution and usable touch screen makes the internet truly mobile. The apps and software work together with this new technology to make the whole mobile web experience simple and satisfying. This has allowed people new to the concept, to quickly adapt and benefit from the new platform, thereby fuelling high adoption rates.

Look at any of the research available on mobile internet and they are all pointing in one direction. Mobile internet is growing and it’s growing fast.

Game changed for email?

Email has gone mobile. According to the Econsultancy Mobile Statistics Compendium, email is used by 75.4% of British iPhone owners, making it the most popular internet activity on the phone. The same study stated that mobile adoption patterns mirror the early days of the internet, when email dominated usage.

Wait a minute… wasn’t email supposed to be dead (or on its last legs anyway)? Or could it be that mobile internet has taken one of the most powerful online channels to date, and given it legs.

Email is now on the move. You follow the recipient around their daily lives; you engage with them when they are doing lots of other things. They could be watching TV, at a restaurant, with friends.

The mobile experience changes the way users interact with your email as well your website. Arguably, interacting with a PC could be quite a lonely experience. With mobile internet, sharing now includes simply handing your phone to your friends. 

Mobile email looks slightly different too! It not only demands great graphics, but it wants to be super usable on the small screen. One of the best ways to do this is to code the email to fit the screen it is being used on.

From the data I have seen so far and opinion on the web, people seem to use mobile as “one” of the ways that they will be viewing the email, so this needs to be considered when developing the template. Is it possible to develop a template that is going to satisfy both a traditional desktop client as well as the mobile browser? That’s going to be worth quite a bit of testing!  

Another new consideration is the actionable copy (links). Are they touch screen friendly? Or is the recipient forced to expand the screen to click on the link? The same is going to go for putting links close together, as you don’t want to send butter fingers off to the wrong place.   

Although the web has gone mobile, it seems like more people fail to complete a transaction on mobile, than they do on a PC. The figures also seem to suggest a substantial amount of people intend to use more mobile ecommerce in the future. This means basket abandonment emails will be even more important to mobile conversions than it is for normal static web.

Game changed for e-commerce and conversion rate optimisation  

The Mobile Shopping Framework Study” is one in a series of white papers from Yahoo that provides an overview of the mobile landscape. In the report, half of consumers claim they purchase an item after researching on their mobile, and 90% of mobile owners access the web from the retail store floor.

So now price comparison shopping could consist of walking round the shops, handling the products, comparing prices online, and making the buying decision. In fact, the Yahoo mobile study revealed “Almost half of all mobile in-store activity involved transmitting a picture of a product to personal contacts for comment”. 

The adoption of mobile web is gaining pace, and the e-commerce platform will be moving out of the home and into the pocket. One of the key challenges now facing the digital marketer is optimising the conversion process for users of mobile web

As was mentioned before, mobile users fail to complete the transaction more often than other web users and this is an issue that needs to be addressed.

It’s almost as though there is now a third way of doing things, it seems to fit in the middle between the full blown website optimised for the modern PC screen, resolution settings and controls, and the cut down versions developed to cater for the previous generation of mobile devices.

So, will you need three versions of your website? I don’t think so…

The mobile platform for internet is going to become a core part of the way people interact with e-commerce, so people must be able to do things when they want to do them.

This means the web will need to be designed for the mobile. It’s surely not unrealistic to expect some businesses to achieve 50% of web sales via mobile. If the consumer wants to order their daily shopping while watching the telly, or sitting on the train, then that’s what they are going to do.

So, whichever website allows them to achieve this simply, with the best user experience, will most likely get the business.

User experience and conversion rate optimisation will become even more vital for achieving good results from mobile internet. Mobile device and software developers have given consumers the means to use the web whenever convenient.

The e-commerce winners will be those that make it easy to shop, whether the customer is behind a desk or on the move. 

Tim Roe

Published 3 May, 2011 by Tim Roe

Tim Roe is Director of Data and Deliverability at Redeye International and a contributor to Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter, Google+ or connect via LinkedIn

22 more posts from this author

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John Courtney

John Courtney, CEO and Executive Chairman at Pay on Results SEO, Content Marketing, Social Media, Digital PR, PPC & CRO from Strategy Digital

There are improvements at so many levels that e-commerce companies can make, perhaps starting with the very basic of making the site friendly to view on smart phones. Some fall at this first hurdle.

over 5 years ago

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Michelle Carvill

I remember a few years ago working with our design team on a website design that pretty much has a touch screen interface (not dissimilar) to a mobile operating system. The client though it was just too out there - and didn't believe that users would be accessing websites via their mobile phone as it was just too slow and cumbersome (fair point at the time). The design was a very simple series of relevant icons that enabled users to explore at the 'click' rather than at a touch. I can see this design theme becoming more relevant in website layout as mobile web grows. Users are clearly comfortable with accessing services and info that way. Therefore, not only will it be about making websites 'mobile friendly' - but I predict that it will impact user focused design themes considerably.

over 5 years ago

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Michelle Carvill

I remember a few years ago working with our design team on a website design that pretty much had a touch screen interface (not dissimilar to a mobile operating system). The client thought it was just too out there - and didn't believe that users would be accessing websites via their mobile phone as it was just too slow and cumbersome a process (fair point at the time). The design was a very simple series of relevant icons that enabled users to explore at the 'click' rather than at a touch. I can see this design theme becoming more relevant in website layout as mobile web grows. Users are clearly comfortable with accessing services and info that way. Therefore, not only will it be about making websites 'mobile friendly' - but I predict that it will impact user focused design themes considerably.

over 5 years ago

Tim Roe

Tim Roe, Deliverability and Compliance Director at RedEyeEnterprise

The touch screen technology does seem to offer a compelling and usable alternative to the mouse and keyboard. It’s also possible to question whether or not some of the fast adoption rate is as due to the touch screen interface, as it is to being a mobile device.
I find it a very different experience, with the touch screen seeming more tangible and tactile than the keyboard and mouse.
How will the future look, will the display screen(s) in the home and work also be touch screen, with any remote control being managed via your mobile device.
If this is the case, web design will need to change to meet these needs and in agreeing with Michelle’s comments; I believe the future web is going to look very different.

over 5 years ago

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Scott B

In my opinion, the reason for high rates of transaction "non-completion" is that when one reaches the checkout page, the amount of information one must enter vs the cumbersome interface is discouraging.

I love shopping on Amazon mobile because with their app it is incredibly easy, in contrast to many other sites.

over 5 years ago

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Hugh Gage

...or maybe the mobile interface will change again, witness Motorola Atrix with its laptop doc for a full screen + qwerty keyboard mobile experience. Also, although it's currently not fashionable to talk about Nokia / MS, there may be some surprises there with the next version of Windows being developed to run on Arm chips - the ones used to power most of todays smartphones. Imagine Windows desktop on your mobile phone with a docking station which turns it into a laptop. Given what's aready happening its not totally out of bounds. That means the web experience could go a full revolution back to the 10" screen plus keyboard and track pad.

over 5 years ago

Tim Roe

Tim Roe, Deliverability and Compliance Director at RedEyeEnterprise

True, the devices are always going to develop into different iterations, but the Internet does seem to be developing into the cloud. This would mean that the personal technology becomes no more than whatever human interface device is most appropriate for the task in hand. The mobile device would seem to be the most appropriate internet access hub, although I would see "docking" being more proximity based.

over 5 years ago

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Biruk

It is excellent, thats what just say. Excellent

about 5 years ago

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Womens Health

I believe you are right completely!!!

almost 5 years ago

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