The 6 Golden Rules of Mobile Email

  |  February 21, 2013   |  Comments

The rules of mobile email are ever-changing, so don't forget to add these to your list.

Let's jump right in, shall we?

  1. Smartphone owners more likely to read emails than make calls. Smartphones are largely email computing devices for many busy consumers and professionals. In fact, the 2013 Digital Publisher Report from Adobe reported that among 18-to-54-year-olds, 79 percent of smartphone owners used their device for email a higher percentage than those who used it for making calls. It should also be noted that email is the number one activity for tablet owners as well.


    So what's the takeaway here? Email is only getting more important and your email program better be adapting to this new future. Pretty soon, half or more of most email databases will be reading your emails on a smartphone. Time to get mobilized.
  2. Consumers read more emails on mobile devices than a browser or desktop. Most data is showing continued growth in how emails are being read - primarily mobile as opposed to the more "traditional" methods of desktop and webmail. This means your emails look different to many consumers, which leads us to number three.
  3. How your email looks on smartphones matters to consumers. BlueHornet and Forrester's recent research showed 70 percent of consumers delete a mobile email when it doesn't look good and 18 percent unsubscribe. That means almost nine out of every 10 subscribers are having some kind of negative action based on an appearance. In the email world, unsubscribes and deletes are about as negative as you can go. Combine this with previous research from Merkle and BlueHornet that ties bad emails to negative perceptions of the brand and most marketers should have serious ammunition to invest in their email to ensure it doesn't look "bad."
  4. Understanding where your subscribers read your email to determine the right approach. This might seem like step number one but I believe you must understand the macro picture before dialing into the correct approach for your brand. You should be able to get subscriber logs from your email partner or vendors like Litmus or Return Path. Understanding how many subscribers are reading your emails on smartphones and tablets and equally important, what operating systems, lets you define your next steps.
  5. What you are trying to accomplish in your mobile email impacts your approach. Some great mobile emails that build awareness would be horrible communications where the goal is to drive sales. Building these emails must be driven by your business goal, not any best practices you may have read about (even here). Speaking of mobile commerce, every marketer must be aware of this metric from Adobe: "Mobile purchasing decisions are most influenced by emails from companies (71%) only surpassed by the influence of Friends (87%)."
  6. Device matters and behavior varies. Responsive design, where media queries help an email (or web page) adapt its layout to its viewing environment (which in the mobile email world is predominantly iOS or Android), does some nice things, but it doesn't help deliver the right email to the right device the way some new technology can. My firm (as well as Movable Ink) has developed unique technology that allows a brand to serve up multiple versions of an email and have the "right" version display on your mobile device. This is a possible game-changer within a game-changer.


Another takeaway tied to number four is don't just bet on the iPhone/iOS. Do your homework on your own database and ignore Droid subscribers at your own risk. To illustrate this point, the talented creative folks at my company developed an infographic to shed more light on this subject.

click to enlarge

Since the rules of mobile email are ever-changing, what would you add to the list?



Simms Jenkins

Simms Jenkins is CEO of BrightWave Marketing, North America's leading email marketing-focused digital agency. The award-winning firm specializes in elevating email marketing and digital messaging programs that drive revenue, cut costs, and build relationships. Jenkins has led BrightWave Marketing in establishing a world-class client list including Affiliated Computer Service (A Xerox Company), Chick-fil-A, Cox Business, Phillips66, Porsche, and Southern Company. The agency was recently ranked among the fastest growing private companies by Inc. Magazine.

Jenkins was awarded the prestigious AMY 2010 Marketer of the Year from the American Marketing Association for being the top agency marketer and the Email Marketer of the Year at the Tech Marketing Awards held by the Technology Association of Georgia. Jenkins is regarded as one of the leading experts in the email marketing industry and is regularly cited by the media as such and called upon by the financial community to provide market insight and consulting.

Jenkins is the author of two definitive and highly regarded books on email marketing; The New Inbox (published in April 2013 by ClickZ/Incisive Media) and The Truth About Email Marketing (published by Pearson's Financial Times Press in 2008). Jenkins is currently the Email Marketing Best Practices Columnist for ClickZ, the largest resource of interactive marketing news and commentary in the world, online or off. His industry articles have been called one of the top 21 information sources for email marketers.

He has been featured in Fortune Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Adweek, Bloomberg TV, Wired Magazine, and scores of other leading publications and media outlets. Jenkins is a regular speaker at major digital industry and general business conferences.

Additionally, Jenkins is the creator of and, the leading authorities on email and social media metrics. Prior to founding BrightWave Marketing, Jenkins headed the CRM group at Cox Interactive Media.

Jenkins serves on the eMarketing Association's Board of Advisors among other civic and professional boards. He is also a mentor at Flashpoint, a Georgia Tech-based startup accelerator program. Jenkins is a graduate of Denison University in Granville, Ohio and resides in Atlanta's Buckhead neighborhood with his wife and three children.

Follow and connect with Simms on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, The BrightWave Blog, and his book websites at and

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

ClickZ Today is our #1 newsletter.
Get a daily dose of digital marketing.



Featured White Papers

2015 Holiday Email Guide

2015 Holiday Email Guide
The holidays are just around the corner. Download this whitepaper to find out how to create successful holiday email campaigns that drive engagement and revenue.

Three Ways to Make Your Big Data More Valuable

Three Ways to Make Your Big Data More Valuable
Big data holds a lot of promise for marketers, but are marketers ready to make the most of it to drive better business decisions and improve ROI? This study looks at the hidden challenges modern marketers face when trying to put big data to use.