How Email Could Turn Out To Be Mobile Advertising’s Secret Weapon In 2013

Gmail iPhone App

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We’ve  been hearing for the last three or four years that this is the year of mobile. Will 2013 finally be that year? What will it take to finally get there? It might just be email.It seems to me that trends in digital advertising tend to be led by consumer habits and technology.  Marketers then race to catch up. We’ve seen this play out many times. Some marketers are fast followers. They are the ones most willing to embrace new technologies.

Email was one of the earliest forms of digital advertising and in its heyday was the talk of the town. Direct marketers flocked to it, finding it to be an easy transition from direct mail. The pricing was similar and the existing data and analysis could easily be applied. Then, display took over as the new and growing format. Direct marketers again led the way with risk-free pricing models (CPA and CPC).  We soon witnessed the introduction of rich media and video. These formats struggled initially because the direct marketers faced challenges in making the CPM pricing model work. We went through a period where growth stalled and single digit industry growth became the new normal — a significant change from the double digit growth we had become accustomed to. 

Now, thanks to Apple, Samsung and Microsoft, we have seen a massive shift in consumer behaviour toward such mobile devices  as phones, mp3 players and tablets. Many folks in our industry want them all to be companion devices to TV. This is a cool idea but significant challenges to executing  reliably and at scale remain.  Surprisingly, I think 2013 could be shaping up to be a big comeback year for email. A recent study by ReturnPath showed that nearly half of all paid emails are opened on mobile devices and that the key categories driving open rates are Real Estate, Retail and Consumer Products. This creates an interesting opportunity to reach customers in an environment  that is most likely to impact a future purchase or reinforce a recent one.  I gotta say, I love getting my receipt for an in-store purchase emailed to me. What a great opportunity for a brand to capture data, provide me additional information about my purchase, and perhaps provide a discount for my next one.  What do you think? 

The views expressed here reflect the views of the author alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of 24/7 Media, its affiliates, subsidiaries or its parent company, WPP plc.