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.