There is an expression used in sports that coaches sometimes employ when they’re trying to fire up their team. They talk about “imposing our will” on the other side. It’s a catchphrase that hints at a physical beating – being faster and stronger – as opposed to being smarter. It’s often a good thing to impose one’s will when it refers to mental toughness and not so good when it refers to taking advantage of someone who is incapable of fighting back.
I got to thinking about this while I was reading a study on, of all things, email. Hopefully if you’re a regular here on the screed you’re used to these little jumps in logic, but let me explain what prompted the thought. The study came out a few weeks ago from the folks at Yesmail Interactive. It is all about the way marketers send email and how recipients interact with it. There’s a bit of a disconnect:
The report reveals that marketers have failed to account for the shift to mobile by not optimizing emails read on a mobile device. While 49 percent of all email opens happen on a mobile device, the click-to-open rate (how many consumers clicked after opening an email) is significantly lower for mobile. Twice as many people click on an email after opening it on a desktop (23 percent) than a mobile device (11 percent)…The study finds that 61 percent of consumers now read at least some of their emails on a mobile device, with 30 percent reading email exclusively on mobile devices.
In other words, the differences in those click-through rates show that mail not optimally formatted for the device gets tossed, and with it, your opportunity for engagement or a sale. That’s what prompted my thought. Our job as marketers isn’t to impose our will, it’s to satisfy the desires of our customers. Sending out mail and demanding that the reader struggle through a communication that is better read on a different device is dumb. Wondering why the email channel isn’t performing is dumber. We need to spend the time and resources to bend to the customer’s will – a desire to read on a mobile device in this case – and not demand that they change their habits.
We can’t impose our will on our customers. It’s quite the opposite. Make sense?