With around 15% to 20% of email opened on a mobile device, marketers need to ensure that their email campaigns cater to this growing trend. 

However, our recent Email Marketing Census found that 39% of companies had no strategy for mobile email, while 48% were unaware how many of their emails were opened on phones.

To find out more about the challenges involved in optimising email campaigns for mobile, including the level of investment required and the ROI, I spoke to dotMailer MD Tink Taylor...

One of the key challenges with email is getting consumers to open them in the first place. How do techniques for boosting open rates differ on mobile?

Actually the techniques aren’t too different when it comes to mobile. Traditional desktop best practices still apply. Think about the importance of subject lines and friendly from addresses for example; those first impressions don’t change.

In the same way, if you want to boost open rates on mobile, one of the most powerful tools is testing different variations. 

At the end of the day, mobile or not, your audience will be different to mine and the most advanced marketers are starting to build their strategies based on the feedback they receive from their testing strategies.

Once consumers have opened the email, how can marketers encourage users to click on a link?

The secret is to have templates that are mobile friendly and render differently for each device using media queries. 

On mobile, you may want bigger font sizes, more prominent links and a different placement of those links. 

Having the most important call-to-action at the top of the email is doubly important on mobile as recipients will be less inclined to scroll.

Is there any point in optimising mobile email if you don't have a mobile optimised site to 
link customers to?

This is an absolutely essential question for marketers to be asking. 

Looking at the stats; B2C organisations may see mobile open rates as high as 70% from mobile-optimised email campaigns - a stat that would put a smile on any marketer’s face. 

But if you aren’t continuing the mobile-optimised experience through the buying experience, they may never convert and the value is minimal.

By contrast, if you’re in B2B where the open rates on mobile may be closer to 6% to 10% or so, maybe only certain parts of your site or landing pages need this kind of attention.

Should marketers use images in mobile email?

Without a doubt.  Using media queries you can serve images that are optimised both in terms of dimension and file size. 

The iPhone renders images by default so you can even make some big and bold image-based calls-to-action, which you may avoid doing in the traditional inbox. At the end of the day images can make a massive impact when they are seen, therefore email marketers should be embracing Apple’s decision to display images by default.

If you’re pursuing this policy, the rest of your formatting also becomes really important- for example, think vertically, not widescreen.

How many topics/offers should each mobile email describe? How many is too many?

This is where testing comes in again - only you can know the real behaviour of your audience and what they will tolerate. 

Instead of cramming too many topics into one email, it’s better to up your frequency and split your messages out. 

Then simply test the performance of these mailings and develop a picture of which subjects make a difference to your recipients.

You’re more likely to catch someone 50% of the time with bi-weekly emails than every single month with a monthly message where it might hit them at an inconvenient time and be ignored.

What processes are involved with optimising email for mobile? Is it easy to convert desktop email for mobile?

It’s important to be clear that you wouldn’t make another template just for mobile - everything comes from a single piece of HTML that contains media queries embedded in this email campaign. 

The media queries dictate how the campaign renders (what images and content to be displayed etc.) on each device. 

Responsive design is a fantastic tool and there is an opportunity in this area not only for mobile template design but also for websites and web apps alike.

What level of investment is needed to optimise mobile email?

To generate this more sophisticated single HTML email, you need more skilled technical input than before. 

You may need people with experience and expertise, or take some time to familiarise yourself with the coding standards surrounding responsive design. To do it properly, it can take roughly twice as much investment in time and budget.

But bear in mind, if you’re finding from your testing and reports that previous campaigns are showing huge open rates on mobile, then it is worth your investment. 

The extent of your ROI will always revolve around this relationship.

And what level of investment is required to optimise the entire consumer journeys for mobile (i.e. including mobile landing pages and sites)?

To be honest, the sky’s the limit. Depending on the size of your site and the nature of your company and customers, you’ll require different degrees of investment to embrace mobile optimisation.

If you’re a B2C retailer, you’ll ultimately want to do the most comprehensive job but there are plenty of technologies out there that will take your product feeds and churn out mobile equivalents based on templates with maximum efficiency.

By contrast, if you’re B2B, it may be more a case of thinking what context your contacts find themselves in when trying to get some information from your mobile site. 

Are they trying to head for a meeting in your office? Perhaps contact details and a simple way to map their journey when they are in the taxi on the way over will be most important. In which case, the cost will be greatly reduced.

What ROI should marketers expect to see in terms of increased conversions and engagement?

It’s all about standing out - if you’re a retailer and your competition beats you to a superior mobile experience, you will lose those customers. 

Scrutinise your open rates on the platform and really assess if this is a significant and growing way that your audience want to interact with you.

Understanding the data is also really important to making the right informed decision. 

I’ve mentioned that B2B open rates will likely be lower but this could be because there are a large number of Blackberries in your audience that have images not rendering by default. 

Really get stuck in and do everything you can to map a true picture of who you are talking to.

David Moth

Published 23 July, 2012 by David Moth

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

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Comments (5)


Jordie van Rijn - emailmarketing consultant

Hi David,

It looks like the number for mobile email opens you state in your first paragraph (15 to 20%) is a bit on the low side. Thanks to the recent BOOM in mobile email readership, it is more like 15 to 45%.

Litmus recorded anaAverage of 36% mobile email openers. Yes almost double of the number you state, and that is just an average.

Have a look at the mobile email stats here for more reference:


about 6 years ago


Jody Gibbons

I hope Tink Taylor introduces more mobile support in dotMailers Esay-Editor application. Currently you cannot add any CSS styles which makes adding media queries impossible. They are obviously noting an increase in demand on mobile email, so they now need to develop a system to reflect this.

about 6 years ago



Hi Jody, I am currently creating mobile optimized responsive editable email templates (moreet's) which work within the Easy Editor. Essentially it is an Easy Editor mobile toolkit which you can add new images or copy as required. It contains branded deletable, repeatable, movable, header, footer and multi-column elements which render normally in the desktop or online email clients; but when viewed within mobile it will optimize as 1 column etc. I'm also working closely with the development team on some fantastic new Easy Editor tools to easily create and manipulate your own beautiful (moreet's) directly in the editor. If you are interested in this, please give the dotMailer team a call and mention ' mobile email, this blog & my name'.

In answer to your editor CSS query. This can be added easily via the Html window within the editor. Hope this helps, kind regards.

Ger Ashby - Senior Designer.

about 6 years ago


Jody Gibbons

Good afternoon Ger,

Thank you for your response - this is exactly what I'm after and would be very much be interested in this. I'll be sure to give dotMailer a call today and voice my support to be included.

Also thank you for sorting out my CSS media query issue too. I have just tried this on a test and it works! I'll look to use this method until the moreets are finalised. But keep up the good work guys!

Many Thanks
Jody Gibbons

about 6 years ago


sufalam technologies

Great tips. Particularly liked the one about the links being too close together. You mentioned sites that allow you to see how various devices display your email. Can you recommend
any specific ones?

over 5 years ago

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