Mobile email is big, and getting bigger. By 2015, more US internet users will access the web
through mobile devices than through PCs. 

The mobile email numbers are even more indicative of a seismic shift in
web behavior. comScore
found that while web-based email declined significantly throughout 2010, mobile
email surged 36% from the prior year.

As consumers are increasingly browsing, shopping, and
interacting with brands on the go, mobile commerce presents a powerful

Mobile consumers typically represent
a desirable demographic for retailers and brands, as they have the latest
technology, a pricey data plan, and can be more likely to spend a lot of money.

However, any new opportunity brings its own set of
challenges. Mobile users have specific needs and biases that you have to
consider in your email marketing.

Tiny text, graphics that won’t load,
convoluted layouts that require mobile users to scroll left, down, up, and
right… any of these problems can quickly derail your attempt to reach mobile

After helping a diverse group of brands boost their mobile presence, we’ve seen
firsthand what works and doesn’t work when it comes to the mobile web. Here are
some ways you can improve the success of your email campaigns in an
increasingly mobile world:

Subject and sender name matter

Too often marketing teams labour over
each word in the body of the email, only to leave the subject and sender fields
as afterthoughts. Each element of the email is a small conversion opportunity!

Desktop and web-based email may treat the three elements of
an email message (body, sender, subject) with equal weight, but not so in the
mobile world. iPhones show the sender name most prominently, while most Android
devices focus on the subject. In both cases, there is little to no preview pane
to see the message body.

Consequently, you’ve got to use a recognisable name or brand
in the From field. And use your
subject line as effectively as possible. Keeping it under 30 characters
(including spaces) is best and phrase your subject as a promise of what can be
found when the recipient opens the email.

Simple beats

As marketers, we want to make things
pretty. And in email marketing, that usually means HTML email. But this
practice will fall flat in many situations on mobile devices.

With limits and
caps on mobile data plans, many users choose not to download images as a
default setting or as a selection in each email. Graphics often can fail to
load, leaving the recipient with an incomplete message or a hole in their email

Furthermore, graphics at the top of an email push the
message out of sight, making it tough for people to get the point of your
message, providing they can see your graphic in the first place. Standards are
evolving in mobile email software but not settled yet in any comfortable,
normalised way.

So consider sending plain text emails. In particular,
consider plain text emails for system messages, such as account activations,
password retrievals, alerts, or anything else that you need to be sure gets
into people’s hands.

Be brief

Short wins. On mobile devices, displays are small so each line
is precious real estate. Get your message as high up in the email as possible
even if it means forgoing fancy graphics.

The same goes for sentences and paragraphs. Keep them short,
crisp and active. The job of nearly every sentence in your email is to get the
recipient to read the following sentence. So get out of their way with all the

4. Early birds catch worms

Email is often checked first thing in the
morning, usually from a mobile device. I, for one, am guilty of responding to
emails while still in bed. Sending your emails overnight or early in the
morning can help you reach your audience before the day has started and they’re
hit with countless distractions.

Emails are also often accessed on mobile while recipients
are commuting, though hopefully not while driving. So take into account
actions of the distracted commuter with a few minutes to kill: make it easy for
people to follow up, forward emails on to themselves and others and save them
for later.

Create a sense of urgency

Email often brings exclusive and
time-sensitive promotions. We’ve found that mobile shoppers are typically
focused on purchasing or researching a specific item. If something is on sale
and limited in quantity, mobile consumers will want to take advantage and will
want to share the opportunity with others.

Optimise the site behind the email.

At the heart of most email campaigns is
a desire to drive some kind of user action: buy, register, request more
information, etc.

When your email succeeds and the recipient clicks through
with their mobile device, what do they find on your website? How easy is it for
them to take those critical next steps while still on a mobile device?

As a marketer, you know you worked hard to get that first
click. Now there’s no reason to lose the conversion on the second click by
requiring the recipient to revisit your email at a later time from their
computer because your website is not mobile optimised.

As data shows the rapid increase in mobile browsing and email,
brands should expect their emails to be opened more frequently on mobile
devices. Taking the right steps to make your emails and website mobile friendly
will ensure success with this vital touch point.