Hello, my name is Litsa and I am the Lead User Experience Designer on the Mobile team at Bazaarvoice.
In my fifteen minutes, I am going to talk about email optimization, the most exciting topic on earth. Actually, it really is. In 2007 email got cool. Email is a cool kid now.
So I'll explain that, and I'll also tell you what my team and I figured out about email that lead us to bump up email campaign conversion 146%!But, really quick, before I do that, allow me to explain what my company does. Bazaarvoice is a UGC platform and data network.
Bazaarvoice helps retailers and brands get product reviews, Q&A widgets, comments, and that sort of thing on their websites and mobile apps.
Okay, now we have some context. On to the story! Our email epiphany happened last summer when we were helping Buckle, an apparel retailer, test different versions their "please review the product you just purchased" email.
We define conversion as the number of product reviews successfully submitted over the number of emails sent. For the past year, Buckle had been using what we called their "default" template, and it had a 1% conversion rate. So 1 out of 100 people that received at email ended up writing a review. Not bad.
For the test, Buckle's marketing department supplied us with various designs to try out, and we did the analytics for them. Buckle's designs were heavily branded, had stock photography, really nice copy -- basically they were doing what most all Marketing departments do, and were applying traditional print design principles to a digital medium. If you think about it, marketing email looks a lot like direct mail.
So we could have stopped with the fourth template and called it a day. Or we could have continued to finesse the copy and visual design. But it had been a whole summer, and as you may have heard, insanity means doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. After three months of hitting a ceiling, we needed to challenge ourselves to think of something new.So with Buckle’s blessing, we decided to take a risk and test an idea that would make many cringe.Can you guess what that was?
We decided to completely disregard all the old email best practices and start from scratch. More specifically, we wanted to invent an email template for smartphone users, not desktop users. Screw desktop. Desktop had its day. Let's prioritize the smartphone user and see what happens.
So we developed one overarching guideline for ourselves when were designing the smartphone-optimized template, and that was, "Make it readable!" End users shouldn't have to take any action whatsoever in order to read the email. They shouldn't have to download images. They shouldn't have to scroll to see the call-to-action. They shouldn't have to pan to read a sentence from beginning to end. We didn't put a logo at the top because that would push down the call-to-action. We didn't put "Click here to view in a browser" because if people have to do that, our design is a fail.
And, we made sure that 100% of the user experience was designed for mobile, meaning the review submission form too.
So it’s not that desktop users had a bad experience, we just designed for smartphone users first. Then we styled the layouts so that they would adapt to wider screens. This technique, as you probably know, is called responsive design.
And then this happened.Our best mobile template more than doubled the amount of reviews Buckle received each day.
Here are the averages. As you can see, more people opened the mobile templates. More people clicked them. And more people successfully submitted a review.
We put analytics on the landing page, and we found that 56% of the users clicking through on the email were using a smartphone, mostly iphones and androids, in that order.
Also, significantly, the mobile-oriented design did not deter desktop users. In fact, desktop users were just as unimpressed with the mobile-oriented design as they were with the beautiful marketing designs.Buckle’s old, desktop-oriented email got in 17 reviews per day. When we switched them to the mobile-oriented templates, the number of reviews written on desktops and laptops only went up by 3 reviews per day. That means most of that net-new review volume was coming from smartphone users.
Ironically, all those email best practices that guide you in producing these lovely, print-ad-looking HTML templates introduce usability barriers that prevent your majority audience from converting.
I say that email got cool in 2007 because in 2007, Apple released the first iPhone, and ever since then, email has been a mobile app just like Facebook and Twitter and Messaging and etcetera. Email the app gives us push notifications that say, "Look at me!" Email the app is something we constantly check throughout the day. We check email on our phones even while we're sitting at our laptops because... laptops are for work and phones are for communicating.Email is a mobile thing, which is why we must adapt email design to the new majority user.
- I have a thought for you.- Buckle is a pretty average retailer with a pretty average apparent mobile audience. They have a mobile website, and I think it would be hard for them (or anybody) to take mobile investment much further than that without some rising activity to justify it.- Well, one thing our experiment taught me is that not all pages are created equal. Maybe overall only 18% of Buckle's audience is mobile, but are there mobile hotspots in the ecommerce experience that we are all overlooking? Email campaign landing pages are one example, but are there others? - If so, I'd say optimize those pages. Redesign those pages so they're responsive. As SEOs you know Google's recommendation to go responsive, and hopefully you understand their reasons. But you don't have to persuade your entire company to undergo this big, expensive, monolithic re-design. - Instead, maybe you can identify and prioritize the mobile hotspots for redesign.- Then your mobile website, if you have one, is just training wheels. One day you won't need it anymore, but there's no shame in keeping it around while you and your customers work your way up to the big kid bike.
-Here's another thought.- Email is a mobile thing, so campaign landing pages are a mobile thing.- Well guess what? Facebook is 53% mobile and Twitter is 60% mobile. What hotspots on your website are they creating?
Do you think there could be some correlation between Social Media campaigns and mobile traffic hotspots? I don’t have access to the Site Analytics accounts for our clients – I I can see is their reviews data, so my curiosity is intense and unrequited and I was hoping maybe you could tell me if you’ve observed this phenomenon.
Anyway, it's something to think and talk about. And, I am exploring this subject in my book. You can view my work in progress here: mobile.bazaarvoice.com.Q&A time!
Throw out best practices, double email conversion