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Liz Jaques 

One third of Brits now read marketing emails on mobiles

The increasing impact of smartphones on how consumers interact with companies looking to market their products and services is revealed today by a report showing that over one third (36%) of UK consumers now read marketing emails on their mobile devices. This rises significantly to over half (55%) of 18-34 year olds.

A crucial finding in terms of the implications for the marketing industry is that one third of people who read marketing emails on their mobile do so to screen them, to read later on a PC or laptop.

Consequently, the report, published by digital agency STEEL London, highlights how brands need to rethink their email marketing strategies to find the 'sweet-spot' that maximises consumer interest across both types of screens - mobile and computer.

Andy Hinder, STEEL's CEO, said: "Consumers are increasingly using their mobile as their preferred media and communication device. Because of this, the mobile has become the gatekeeper for further action and engagement with emails. With better targeted marketing emails, and the growth in mobile commerce, it is essential for brands to look at how they further adapt their email marketing strategies for mobile."

The power of mobile is highlighted by the fact that over two thirds (69%) of people who read marketing emails on their mobile have immediately acted on it in some way. The most common action being clicking through to a website (42%) followed by making a purchase (30%). Again, 18-34 year olds are the most likely to do these activities; over half (52%) of them who read emails on mobiles have clicked through to a website while over one third (35%) have made a purchase.

However, there is a large degree of consumer dissatisfaction about reading emails on mobiles. Consumers' pet hate is that there is "too much scrolling", cited by 42% of all consumers - jumping significantly to 89% of consumers over 55 years old. Emails having the "wrong layout for mobiles" are the next strongest area of dissatisfaction, cited by 29% of all consumers - jumping to 45% of 18-34 year olds - followed by "too much content" (27%).

Hinder added: "Marketers must also bear in mind when and where the consumer is receiving their communication. This has massive implications for how they create the right messages for a highly personal device, and how they want consumers to react to, and interact with those messages."

As a result of the findings, Hinder recommends five simple steps for marketers to find where emails work on mobiles, laptops and PCs:

  • Simplify the emails: reduce the number of categories, sub-headings, links and images
  • Limit calls to action and make them obvious: use a small number of obvious buttons instead of numerous links. Clickable areas should be no smaller than a fingertip (44x44 pixels)
  • Use a clear, methodical hierarchy and keep it short: create a clear headline, followed by secondary messaging with smaller tertiary content towards the bottom. Keep the length of the email as short as possible
  • Use capitals in titles to distinguish text and content areas
  • Stick to one or two columns of content: if using more than one column centre the text in each column to maximise the visual space between them and improve legibility.

The full report - based on a nationally representative sample of consumers recruited and surveyed via a Toluna online panel as well as STEEL's work with clients such as Debenhams, Betfair and TalkTalk - is available here.

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