More than a third of consumers (36%) read marketing emails on mobile, according to new research .

According to digital agency Steel, this rises to 55% among 18-34 year olds, highlighting the fact that brands need to optimise their email marketing for mobile devices.

The stats are supported by a Knotice study we reported in April which found that 27% of emails are opened on mobile devices.

Steel’s report found that almost 40% of those who read emails on mobile said they did so if the subject line sounded interesting.

The basic rules of email marketing still apply on mobile, “but we need to be smart in how this translates to a mobile version of an email - fewer characters on a far more personal device”.

A third of respondents (33%) said that they use their mobile to screen emails, before reading them later on a desktop, though this does contradict the Knotice stats, which found that in 95% of the cases,  the email open is occurring on only one type of device, which removes one excuse not to optimise for mobile.

Data included in an infographic from Return Path shows that 41% of Europeans would either close or delete an email not optimised for mobile.

However, stats from our Email Marketing Census 2012 found that with 39% of companies said their mobile email strategy was “non-existent”, and 37% said their strategy was “basic”.

Therefore it seems a huge number of brands are wasting a lot of effort and missing out on conversions simply because they haven’t optimised their emails for mobile.

The importance of an effective mobile email campaign is further underlined by engagement statistics form Steel’s report. Among those who open emails on a mobile, 42% of respondents have clicked through to a website and 30% claim to have made a purchase from a mobile email.

In reality 30% seems quite high, but it does suggest that a significant proportion of consumers are encouraged to make purchase decisions from mobile marketing.

Steel recommends the following five steps to improve your mobile email messages:

  • Simplify your emails: reduce the number of categories, sub-headings, links and images.
  • Limit your calls to action and make them obvious: use a small number of obvious call-to-actions, ensuring clickable areas are no bigger than a fingertip (44x44 pixels).
  • Use a clear, methodical hierarchy and keep it short: create a clear headline followed by secondary messaging, and keep it as brief as possible.
  • Use capitals in titles to distinguish text and content areas.
  • Stick to one or two columns of content: if using more than one column, centre the text in each column to maximise the visual space between them and improve legibility.

The data in Steel’s report came from a nationally representative survey of 500 respondents.

David Moth

Published 18 May, 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 (4)

Dawn McKeag

Dawn McKeag, Director, Digital Marketing at Live Events Management, Inc.

Are there any visual examples of emails that effectively optimize for mobile? It would be great to see examples.

over 6 years ago


Bryce Mashall

Since this article cites our recent Mobile Email Engagement report, I think it is worth clarifying the nature of the (apparently) contradictory findings of Knotice and Steel, on what number of consumers are viewing an email first on mobile, and returning later on desktop.

The information in Knotice's report is based on hard data from the hundreds of millions of marketing emails sent over our platform, spanning B2C and B2B, across dozens of verticals and industries. When we say fewer than 5% of users exhibit this behavior - viewing an email first on mobile, then the same email again later on desktop - it is based on direct observation of actual behavior from a very significant sample.

This article indicates that Steel's report is based on survey/interview of 500 consumers. This provides very valuable insights but the data is gathered in a far different manner.

One thing we know is there can be a gap between what consumers/humans say they do, and what they actually do. We were as surprised as anyone to see that the hard data indicated such a low share of users viewing the same email on both mobile and desktop. Subjectively, prior to analyzing this data, many of us at Knotice assumed it was fairly common behavior - and Steel's report would support this. However our data just doesn't support the same conclusion. While many of us may intend to return later to an email from our desktop computers, our data shows that our intentions and our actual behavior are very far apart in this case. And we will stand behind that hard data gathered from a sample of hundreds of millions of email interactions as the more insightful measure. And our conclusion is that as an email marketer, you have one shot to make your pitch to the consumer. If you are not optimizing email for mobile users you are likely missing that opportunity.

Bryce Marshall
Director Strategic Services

over 6 years ago


Stephen Sharp

The optimization best practices you mentioned above are great. Why not take them a step further and use Media Query to automatically reformat the email per the device it's being viewed on. Same code base, same images, just a different, more customized viewing experience depending on whether the user views the email on their laptop or mobile device. Several of my clients experienced a 5-10% lift in CTR just but adding media query to their campaigns.

over 6 years ago


Steve F

Stephen, great tip about Media Query for device specific regformats.

Steel's report highlights somehing that is important no matter if you're writing an email, blog post, or sales copy; make the subject line or title compelling.

Too many people either give little strategic thought to the subject line (Think about it, it's really a headline) at all, or they kewword stuff it to death in an attempt to get better SEO.

1)Write it for readers
2)make it compelling
3)work in the appropriate keywords without compromising the first 2 rules.

about 6 years ago

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