Last week I was lucky enough to attend Marketing Week Live in London, and picked up some great insights on a number of different topics from some of the leading authorities in online marketing.

We haven’t covered it on the blog in a while, so I wanted to share a few of the points that I thought were especially salient on the subject of email marketing, along with a couple of my own thoughts of how this particular medium has changed in the last year or so.

The Mobile Revolution

Those of you who have used analytics to look at what devices are used to view your websites and emails will probably have noticed a considerably higher proportion of mobile browsers being used to view the emails than are used to view your site.


There seems to be a general trend currently of people using smart phones for emails and social media, but leaving the more involving business of browsing the web and making purchases for their laptop or desktop PC. Like its predecessor the PDA, the smartphone is handy for doing quick jobs on the go, but until the mobile web experience becomes much faster and more user friendly, it is isn’t going to go much further than that.

What this means is that you probably need to put a bit more thought into optimising your emails for mobile than you do for your website for the time being.

How to do that really requires a blog post of its own to explain properly, but it essentially means thinking carefully about how your email will render on a small screen, and making sure it is simple, clear and easily accessible.

A lot of this is common sense stuff really – for example keeping the amount of scrolling or zooming required by the user to a minimum, and ensuring that no two call-to-action buttons are close enough together that someone might accidently press the wrong one.

Think also about what content is most valuable to a mobile audience. Studies have shown that 40% of mobile users want offers and coupons in emails, not news and tips. This makes sense because they’re likely to be out and about, maybe reading their emails on a bus or a train, and while they might be able to make use of a coupon or an offer, they may not have the time or inclination to read a long email about what your company is up to at the moment.

Long Copy or Short Copy?

This leads me nicely onto the tricky subject of copy length. The long copy or short copy debate is one that long predates mobile, but the near ubiquitous usage of smartphones nowadays has certainly added weight to the argument for making your copy as concise as possible.

For a good example take a look at the Harrods and John Lewis eshots. Both tend to be under 100 words in length, and sometimes under 50.


But don’t be fooled into thinking that you will save time by writing less copy. You should spend just as much (if not more) time over a 100 word email as you should on a 500 word one.

Mark Twain once said “If I had more time, I’d write shorter”. His point was that getting an idea across in as few words as possible is difficult, takes time and involves careful crafting. It might not take long to write 50 words, but it does take long to find the right 50 words.