I’d like to address one of the hottest topics in the industry – mobile email. I’ll start by reviewing the penetration rates in the region and show you why it is important for you to address this point (part 1). We’ll continue from there to user behaviour (part 2), and finally I’ll provide tips that will help you improve your strategy (part 3).

Part 1

The fact that each one of us has at least one mobile phone at hand and many of us have more than one mobile device makes mobile one of the most important communication channels available to marketers across the world.

The reasons for this channel being so lucrative among marketers is affected by two main trends: the first being the explosion of the smartphone and tablet penetration rates, with vast-varying operating systems like iOS, Android, and also Windows mobile (Mango), which started making waves recently with the launch of Nokia Lumia. In APAC, Baidu plans to launch a mobile OS and it is expected that other Chinese and Indian giants will be launching their operating systems as well.

While we’ll be seeing an increase of market share among the international OSes in APAC, remember that old mobile phones are still dominating the market (mostly in fast growing economies). The following chart provides stats from Baidu on the main mobile OSes used in China.

The second trend is the usage of mobile phones in fast growing economies in APAC: China, India, and Indonesia. Due to infrastructure issues that prevent communication and, most specifically, Internet availability in rural areas, many people are using their mobile phones to browse the web, receive emails, and socialize with friends on social network sites (SNS).

According to MIIT statistics, China added 43 million new mobile users in the first quarter of 2012, making the total number of users amounting to about 1,030,052,000.

According to Wikipedia, India has 919 million users with 76 percent penetration rate, and Indonesia has 250 million and a penetration rate of 105 percent. These economies are among the top 10 globally when it comes to the number of mobile users.

Part 2

For those of you who are already running email marketing programs, part 1 may make sense and reinforce the importance of mobile technology as a channel. If you are not yet engaged in email marketing while considering the sheer size of the market, look at how it can become a part of your digital marketing mix.

Now, when it comes to email, let’s view users’ behaviour on mobile. I’ll base the stats on the report made by Knotice, available for download. Although the report is from the U.S., we see similar behaviour across the board with our clients.

In the table below, we can see email open rates – it soared to almost 30 percent. It means that almost 30 percent of your customers will be opening your email on mobile devices.


 [via Knotice: Mobile Email Opens Report for Second Half of 2011]

Further, you’ll find that across all industries open and click rates are taking place on mobile phones. I’d like to draw your attention to an interesting phenomenon in this report and that is that the larger the physical size of the device is, the higher the conversions rates are, e.g., desktop vs. tablets vs. smartphones.


  [via Knotice: Mobile Email Opens Report for Second Half of 2011]

Part 3

Finally, the part you’re probably waiting for – “when is he going to cut to the chase and give the tips?” – has finally arrived.

My colleague Wendy Yung has written a good piece with very detailed instructions for optimizing emails in mobile. It is available on our company blog.


Start with measuring mobile clicks and opens of different mobile OSes. Draw conclusions on the clicks and open rates each mobile OS is providing you.

Optimize for Viewing

If there is a way for you to automate your template, in a way that it optimizes itself automatically to each mobile OS, perfect. Enable it.

If this is not the case, test your HTML in different mobile OSes. Your options are to come up with one version that will look good on desktops and mobile, or create one version for desktops and for mobile OSes. A common practice is to add a mobile-friendly link in the header of your campaign. Ensure that if you have this link, it is not just a text version. It has to be as engaging as the original campaign in terms of visuals.

Take into account: photo sizes, screen size, scrolling, and buttons sizes.


The main question is where the conversions are happening. If your customers are converting on their mobile devices, ensure that your call to action buttons are located in a clear place, and have a large enough size that will allow users with large fingers to click them.

Your job does not end here. Most customers surfing on mobile phones are doing so on mobile browsers and not in an app, so be sure to have mobile versions of your business website ready. Similar to mobile emails, your optimized mobile site will need to have large buttons and efficient purchase processes (or any other processes like event registration, user registration, etc.).