The 6 Golden Rules of Mobile Email

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?

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Flat business devices communication with cloud services isolated on the light blue background.
Vector illustration with a magnifying glass focusing on a pie chart, a graph line trending upwards, and other metrics symbols.