Mobile email users frustrated by formatting

Most email is now opened on mobile devices these days. However a new study shows that we are frustrated by the poor formatting of emails on mobile devices. It appears that email marketing companies are still producing emails that look great on desktop devices, but fail to impress on mobiles.

Chart of mobile emal success

The research was conducted by RealTime Email and it found that the text being too small to read, the message being badly formatted and the resulting link being too difficult to read all contributed to negative feelings about mobile email. Indeed almost 80% of people complained about such issues.

One other important factor in this study is that now people are complaining about receiving too many emails. On desktop email systems the number of emails is not seen so negatively. That is probably due to the fact that managing them – or ignoring them – is much easier. However, on mobile devices the management of unwanted email messages is more complex. Email apps are not as feature-rich as desktop ones, filtering is less capable and so on. As a result we are more aware of more emails on our mobile devices – and that is beginning to annoy us.

In a similar way to desktop email, though, lack of relevance is a significant issue. Far too many companies are sending out emails to people who are not ideal recipients. That suggests lack of segmentation and lack of effective database management by firms.

One other interesting aspect in terms of relevance was the annoyance some people complained about because they owned an app from the company. They believed that sending messages via the app was more relevant than sending an email. So companies need to be aware of who has their app and who does not – the people who have the app should receive messages through that, with the non-app owners getting the email instead.

What this study shows is that in spite of years of knowledge about email marketing, many businesses are still getting it badly wrong.

Don’t fall into their camp. Here’s what to do if you want your email marketing to succeed for mobile device users.

  • Know who reads your emails on mobiles and who reads your emails on desktops and send them different versions targeted at their preferred kind of device
  • Segment your mailing lists into much narrower niches and only send email messages specific to those people
  • Know who uses your app and communicate with them via that, rather than email
  • Do some market testing to discover how often is too often for emails to your segments – then produce an appropriate mailing schedule
  • Design landing pages from mobile email links specifically for mobile devices

In other words, email marketing for mobiles is much more than simply having a “responsive” version of your messages


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Graham Jones
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+
Graham Jones


Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist, professional speaker and author of 32 books who helps businesses understand the online behaviour of their customers
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