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Tips to Drive Sales From Mobile Email Campaigns

December 12, 2012 By Larry Kavanagh
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There's no question that making it easier to read email on a mobile device is a good idea. The numbers on smartphone browsing continue to rise. With email such an important driver of e-commerce sales, it's only natural to think about the experience of a consumer reading your message on a smartphone.

So how do you execute a mobile-friendly email campaign in a way that actually improves sales? I've seen many "good ideas" produce unimpressive and even disastrous results. The best way to make sure you achieve your objective is to split test an email campaign that you've optimized for a smartphone against your standard creative.

To get ideas for your test, start by reviewing the smartphone performance of your last five to 10 email campaigns. Best practices are great to use as a starting point, but each audience is slightly different. Your own results will give you an idea of how to tweak best practices to fit your situation. If your email service provider doesn't have the data you need broken out by device, here are three steps to get the information via Google Analytics:

  1. Use utm coding in your email links to identify specific email campaigns/creative (e.g., utm_medium=email&utm_source=bulk&utm_campaign=BlackFridaySale).
  2. Create an advanced segment for smartphones. The segment should include mobile equal to "yes," and exclude "mobile device model" containing iPad and "mobile device marketing name" containing "Tablet" and "Tab."
  3. If you have a mobile-optimized site (and you should!), code clicks on your phone number as an event; give the event some monetary value for producing a call that's likely an order.

You'll likely see that some email creative produced a higher than average percentage of total clicks, transactions and sales (including a "click to call" event) on mobile devices, while other creative haven't produced a dime on smartphones.

Use the tips below in combination with your historical results to build a mobile-friendly creative that you can test against:

  • Reduce the number of links in the email. In general, emails with fewer links perform better on a smartphone.
  • Put top performing/most clicked on links at the top of the email.
  • Consider button size and link density. That small screen is very small — particularly for us older folks who buy your stuff — and consumers have big fingers. Recipients like big buttons and enough room between links so that they don't click on the wrong one.
  • Place your phone number at the top of your email. Many smartphones (e.g., iPhone) will treat this as a click-to-call link. Track calls by either using a unique phone number or coding it as a "link" in your email. Give these clicks an order value since most of these calls will result in call-center orders.
  • Include information in the alt image tag to describe your image in case it's block by the mobile email reader. And don't just give the product name. Instead of "Movado Watches," use something like "these sharp-looking, silver-banded Movado watches give you a professional look."
  • Because images can be blocked, make sure you that have enough text to describe your products and offer.

Before you test your mobile-friendly creative against your tried-and-true template, check how both look on an iPhone, other smartphone devices and several desktop browsers. You don't want a biased result because of a simple coding error that prevents one side of the test from rendering at all.


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