6 Reasons Why Mobile Messaging Is Not Like Email

While email can be good for longer, time-insensitive messages that go to large groups of people, mobile messaging is about timeliness, relevance, personalization and action. Here are some ways that you need to look at mobile messaging differently if you want to be successful with it.

1. “Mobile messaging” isn’t a channel.

Email marketing is a single way of communicating. Some users might use Gmail and others might use Outlook, but all email messages are experienced pretty much the same way: images, text and links, accessed through an email app when it’s convenient for the user.

But mobile messaging isn’t just one channel or one technology. It comprises every way you can reach your customers on their mobile devices, including push notifications, in-app messages, wallet passes and message center messages. Your users will respond to each in a different way, and each channel offers unique possibilities for interactivity, timeliness, and content.

2. You have the user’s attention.

Email open rates are around 25%, on average. But engagement is much higher on mobile: for push notifications, for example, open rates can be over 90%. Why is that?

One reason is that you’re not fighting with hundreds or thousands of other voices for your user’s attention. Most email inboxes are vast junkyards of poorly-targeted promotions, with just a few messages that the user is prepared to act on. A user may not see an email at all, but even if they do, it’ll be buried among many other emails trying to get their attention.

With mobile messaging, on the other hand, users are usually much more careful about what they agree to receive. If you can get a user to install your app, you’ve made it easier to send messages they’ll actually see. Not to mention that your user is carrying their phone around in their pocket all day. That means you have a constant line of connection to offer them relevant information and experiences.

3. It’s easier to send relevant content.

What’s the key to great content? Relevance. Giving the user information they’re looking for in that moment.

On mobile, achieving relevance is easier. For example, your user is on their way to the airport for a flight, and you can update their boarding pass in real-time with the correct information. Or your user wants to know the score of the big game, and you can send that to them as soon as the game is over. If there’s a sale happening in one of your nearby retail locations, you can let them know that, too.

4. Mobile messaging is meant for interaction.

Sending an email is a shot in the dark. Tracking can be unreliable, you don’t have full control over how your email looks and you’re limited in what you can include. And when you want your user to act, all you can provide them is a link to your website. That’s assuming, of course, that  you can get your voice heard over all the other email your customer is receiving.

Mobile messaging isn’t like that. An interactive notification can let your users take complex actions, like voting or sharing content, with a single tap from the homescreen. A Wallet coupon can pop up at the right time and place, like when your user is heading out for a cup of coffee. Users don’t have to be “checking their email” to see your message; instead, it’ll pop up on their homescreen or when they’re already in your app, ready to hear what you have to say.

Analytics work better, too; you can more reliably see who’s received your messages, who’s opened them, and exactly what action they’ve taken in response. This lets you get a better sense of what’s working and what isn’t so you can refine accordingly.

5. With great power comes great responsibility.

Have you ever received an email that wasn’t relevant to you? We all have. But do you actually do anything about it? If a sender is particularly annoying or you happen to think of it, you might hit the unsubscribe button. But most of the time, you’ll just ignore it.

But if someone sends you an irrelevant push notification, you’ll probably be irritated enough to turn those notifications off, right then and there. So as a marketer, you have to be careful to send messages that provide real value to the user, and further the relationship. Otherwise, you risk getting your messages blocked, and possibly even having your app uninstalled. Mobile messaging is more engaging and powerful, but it carries more risk.

6. It’s important to understand the technology.

Email marketing has been around for decades, and the technology, and what you can do with it, is pretty well understood and doesn’t change much.

Mobile isn’t like that. Every year brings a new set of devices and capabilities. A year ago, the Apple Watch didn’t exist, but now it’s opened a whole new channel to communicate with users.

You’ll have to get smart on how these things work in order to market effectively over mobile.

Want to learn more?

This is just a quick overview on how mobile engagement is different from email. If you really want to improve your mobile messaging game, check out our guide to the mobile surface area, which explores when to use all the different engagement channels available to you.