Mobile Email – Metrics and Quick Wins

I have two pet peeves when it comes to client requests:

  1. The need to see metrics when common sense should suffice. In the immature field of mobile marketing, those who need to rely on proven methods will not blaze trails.
  2. The desire for “quick wins.” Improvements in your digital marketing program that will really move the needle are not, typically, quick fixes.

But today I have both! Metrics and a quick win, that is, not pet peeves.

We have many clients investing in responsive design for email, but few who have done an A/B split test against the control. These marketers look at the numbers and use common sense: if 30 to 60 percent of my email opens are on mobile devices, my message should look great on screens small and large.

When you see a lovely responsive design, which fluidly adapts to its environment like a chameleon, you don’t feel the need to prove that it’s superior to the cramped, illegible, 600 pixel-wide version. So we were ecstatic to have a customer perform three split tests of responsive versus standard email designs.

The results: a 21 to 25 percent increase in click-through rate and a 15 to 17 percent increase in open rate.

Responsive design is not a quick win, but tell me: what is the last change you made to your digital marketing that gave you these kinds of results?

But I do have a quick win for you: the increase in open rates came from a minor tweak to the pre-header.

The inbox, whether mobile or desktop, will display the first HTML text it finds.


The subject line plus pre-header should deliver a one-two punch: compelling reasons to open that stop readers in their tracks. Note: “View as a web page” is not a compelling reason! I shouldn’t have to add that “Add to Address Book,” “Follow us on Facebook,” and “Click to Unsubscribe” are not compelling reasons either, yet I see them all the time.


Use all 80 characters shown in the mobile inbox to entice your readers. Not all will be visible in the desktop inbox, so front-end load it with the most important content. Give your pre-header language the same care and attention that you apply to your subject line.

Go crazy: test copy and optimize at the time of send with a 10/10/80 approach. Ten percent get version A, 10 percent get version B, and the remaining 80 percent get the winner. This method allows you to apply your results today, rather than learning something you may be able to apply tomorrow. Another quick win!

Responsive email and mobile-optimized websites are no longer cutting-edge techniques. With a large portion of your audience reading on mobile devices, they are a necessity. They are not quick wins; they are investments that yield significant results. Doing it today may give you a competitive advantage, but by this time next year, it will be table stakes.

In the meantime, enjoy a quick win: optimize your pre-header.

Since I wrote this column on St. Patrick’s Day, I wish you good luck!

Mobile Email image on home page via Shutterstock.

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