Consumers are adopting innovations in mobile technology so rapidly that statistics about Internet usage are out of date almost as soon as they’re printed.

That said, at least 35% of all American adults own a smartphone, and at a minimum 16% of all emails are now being read on mobile devices.

Clearly, marketers need to make sure that their emails are optimized so that they can be viewed properly, no matter what device the consumer is using.


Mobile readers will be frustrated if they touch through from an email to a website that hasn't been adapted for mobile browser access.

Even if the site functions properly and loads in a reasonable time, navigation will be difficult, and many visitors will not have the patience to complete a purchase or other desired action.

51% of smartphone users are more likely to purchase from retailers with a mobile specific website, but despite this, 79% of the largest advertisers still do not have mobile sites. [Google Adweek Presentation]

Vendors who are not prepared with a mobile web strategy are quite literally leaving money on the table.

For more on building mobile-ready sites, read the Econsultancy Mobile Websites and Apps Best Practice Guide


There are no rules for what to do - but keep the small screen form-factor of emails in mind at all times.

The arts blog Hyperallergic attempts to address this problem by formatting its rich-format newsletter as a single vertical column with discretely blocked niches. There's a big eye-catching logo leader, a photo, some text, and an ad.

Unfortunately, when the width of the single column is zoomed in upon, the text can't be easily read. Holding the phone horizontally makes it legible, but rapid on-the-go browsing is difficult.

Compare Hyperallergic to Ad Age, which has shrunk the primary column, and added a smaller, secondary one for advertisements.

The advantage of Ad Age's narrower primary column is that when the iPhone/Android snaps to a resize of primary column, the text is displayed at a legible size.

One downside of the primary/secondary column approach is that to a quick, hurried glance it can appear cluttered.

Also, because of its large size, the entirety of the Ad Age email isn't downloaded automatically (at least, not by the iPhone).


Small screens mean a small window of opportunity through which to grab interest. 

If you've got one big thing you want to get across - say, a product that you want people to race out and purchase - go big.

Wendy's Wendymail literally stops its viewers with "HEY," next to a big cheesy burger and a number of subtle-but-persistent brand marks.

It doesn't get much clearer than that.

Note how the content is balanced away from the upper-middle, where the thumb of a right-handed person would overhang.

Another way to approach mobile email is to consider what's vital, and what's nice to have. Repeated studies have shown that the more action items in a newsletter, the less response each one receives. In mobile email, the logistics further support having a tight focus on a primary call to action at the top left of the email, with "nice to have" elements diminished or cut entirely.


Careful scrutiny of the Wendymail reveals that there are three separate links to their Facebook page (the third is barely visible at bottom).

78% of mobile email users are also regular users of social networking sites, and the rewards for integration that generates engagement across multiple touchpoints are steep. Though not specific to email marketing, studies have shown that audiences who are exposed to both a TV-ad and an online ad have an 18% higher general recall.

Integration doesn't just mean creating links between properties- it also means designing compelling multi-channel campaigns.

Email, social, print, television - each media form has specific attributes that need to be leveraged accordingly.

It isn't enough to provide an audience the option to socially participate - marketers must inspire their audiences to actively seek out brand properties across multiple media forms.


Setting up analytics for your emails will allow you to see what percentage of your emails are opened, when, and even what gets clicked on within the email.

Many email marketing solution vendors integrate analytics right into their product. This can be easier than manually rigging every email blast you send.

However, what these products may not do is differentiate between the individual links within an email. Tagging every individual link within an email can be time consuming, but the insights generated by specified link tracking are valuable. 

When it comes to analytics, the advice to marketers is to think like an early 1970's demolitions expert tackling the modernist Pruitt-Igoe housing project - wire that ugly sucker up real good.


Published 11 October, 2011 by Sam Dwyer

Sam Dwyer is an Analyst based in Econsultancy's New York office. He can be followed on Twitter @sammydwyer.

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Comments (1)


Leonard Stevens

There are some great tips in this article about email marketing because there are a lot of misconceptions about the success rate of email marketing. Make sure that you are adding value to your recipients in your emails.

over 5 years ago

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