Resources: Getting Started with Your Mobile Email Strategy

Written by Jill Butler, Senior Interactive Marketing Specialist, BlueHornet

As the number of consumers adopting smartphones increases, so will the amount of email they read on mobile devices. According to the Radicati Group, “We expect the mobile email market will increase at an average annual rate of 68% over the next four years, totaling more than 1 billion mailboxes by the end of 2013.” This creates a new opportunity for engagement that most marketers aren’t pursuing today.

The small screen is not to be overlooked when it comes to creating compelling email messages that generate revenue. Research suggests that mobile devices can be a tremendous source of incremental revenue for marketers that can make the message work effectively for the medium and take mobile consumption habits into consideration. In the long term, we anticipate that more email messages will be created specifically for mobile consumption, and email marketers will need to follow a new set of best practices to maximize engagement with mobile subscribers.

How to get started

Many smartphone email clients currently do a poor job of rendering emails, but their web browsers provide better support for HTML, default image viewing, and zooming.  To optimize the mobile email experience for subscribers, email marketers are now incorporating links to mobile-friendly versions of their emails hosted on external URLs. Here are six best practices for formatting your web-hosted emails to ensure that they are well received by smartphone users:

1) Create clear call-to-action text in your pre-header.

It’s important that your users know that they can view the email in a mobile format.  We recommend you call out this functionality immediately in the pre-header by using verbiage such as “View on your mobile device” or “View mobile-friendly version” and linking the call-to-action text to the mobile version of your email.

2) Keep the width to 320 pixels.

The average screen size is around 320 pixels. Re-size your images accordingly to ensure that all content will be viewable without the need for horizontal scrolling or zooming, images will load by default, text will be displayed at the desired size, and load time will be faster. You also have the option of using a 100% width so the content automatically resizes to the user’s screen.

3) Use your space wisely.

Due to limited viewing space on smartphones, we recommend that you slim down pre-header text. It displays above the email in most smartphones and can push the rest of your pertinent content below the fold. Place your branding and call-to-action at the top-left portion of your email for premium visibility, and be sure to include phone numbers and addresses where applicable. Smartphone users can click directly on them to make a call or get directions.


4) Track mobile activity by creating unique links.

By using unique links, you can collect actionable data about who is viewing their emails on a mobile device.

Try this: On any links you place in your mobile-friendly version, add the variable “?v=m” to the end to indicate that the version is mobile. So for example, your link would look something like this:

The added variable shouldn’t affect the link path for your end user, but it will allow you to differentiate your mobile links from your HTML links in your email service provider’s reporting tool.

In addition, consider creating a clicker group that will automatically push clickers from the mobile version into segments within your system. That way, you can determine how many mobile consumers are in your database and identify opportunities to optimize your messages for mobile consumption.

5) Use a 3rd party analytics tool.

A hosted version of your email also has the ability to provide powerful analysis with the use of a 3rd party reporting service such as Google Analytics.

6) Send unique content to mobile viewers.

Rather than making a carbon copy of your HTML version available to mobile viewers, consider serving up content that caters to mobile users’ on-the-go lifestyle. Provide coupons that they can use at point-of-sale and alert them to special local offers.