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Optimized emails ineffective without pre, post engagements

NEW YORK ? Optimized emails alone will do little to engage and attract consumers to retail and mobile commerce spaces if they lack pre and post interactions with consumers, according to executives at Mobile Marketer?s Mobile FirstLook: Strategy 2014 conference.

For email to be effective, retailers must reach out to consumers regularly and repeatedly to establish and maintain connections. At the same time, they are trying to create one platform that can handle all the methods and ways they can communicate to consumers, according to Steve Rowen, Chicago-based managing partner of RSR Research.

"The problem is no one is really there yet," Mr. Rowen said. "It's a logistical problem of the way retailers race to play catch up to consumers because [mobile] is a consumer technology. 

"That's where it started," he said. "So brands are in this catch-up mode and until they have a technology platform where they can push one consistent message out across all the different ways they communicate with consumers, it's going to be choose your little bits of the battle that you're going to try to win." 

Mr. Rowen was a panelist on the "Email: Optimization for Smartphone Screens is Key to Retaining Consumer Interest" breakout session.

Being effective
Checking and sending emails are among consumers' top activities on smartphones. 

With that in mind, merchants, brands and retailers are looking at ways to optimize their emails for mobile devices small screens.

Those who do not optimize emails, risk lower open and click-through rates and also lost business from shifting loyalty. 

Mr. Rowen attended the NRF 103rd Annual Convention & Expo earlier this week.

"It's mind blowing when you walk around and see all the different technology [retailers are] using," Mr. Rowen said.

Now more than ever it is imperative that retailers use and understand analytics, Mr. Rowen said.

When communicating with consumers via email on mobile, it is important to take consumer-first and mobile-first perspectives.

"We're in the age of the customer and the customer-obsessed," said Matthew Witt, executive vice president and director of digital innovation at Tris3ct, Chicago.

Target is an example of a retailer that does a significant job and has a unified brand image, according to Mr. Witt.

"They are offering Walmart-type prices to people who would not be caught dead in a Walmart," Mr. Witt said.

When sending mobile emails, marketers need to move beyond bland formats by incorporating multimedia into their campaigns to engage consumers.

Using rich media and videos can entice consumers to open the emails and include calls-to-action that direct them to retailers' Web sites or apps (see story).

"The key takeaway is understanding the greater context of usage," Mr. Witt said. "And how your brand and how your business objectives can translate down into a way that is conducive and resonates with those usage parameters of the consumer.

"Basically at the end of the day, you want to provide value for the consumer and resonates with they way in which they behave and act out their life," he said. 

Final Take
Steve Rowen is Chicago-based managing partner of RSR Research and Matthew Witt is executive vice president and director of digital innovation at Tris3ct, Chicago
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