Smartphones are ubiquitous in today’s society. Most people can’t imagine going more than a few minutes without having their phones nearby. The widespread adoption of these and other mobile devices is good news for marketers who want to reach out to people in an accessible and effective way.

You can send emails that people read and otherwise engage with on their mobile gadgets. That matters because:

  • Many people receive push notifications from their email providers and are alerted to new messages immediately.
  • Individuals often carry their mobile devices wherever they go and may be more likely to read content during downtime, such as while waiting for appointments.
  • More internet traffic comes from mobile devices than desktop computers.
  • Handheld devices let people engage with content during times when computer usage may be unfeasible, such as during road trips and at concerts, festivals and sporting events.
  • Most of the world’s population will solely use smartphones for internet access by 2025.

You cannot ignore the rising popularity of mobile devices and should make creating effective campaigns for people who use them a priority. However, even carefully planned mobile-friendly email campaigns can backfire. Here are six blunders mobile-centric marketers should avoid.

1. Showing Insensitivity to Events

One of the best practices for email marketing is to connect content to well-known events. You could even do it in a broad sense by talking about summer getaways when seasonal changes bring warmer temperatures, for example.

However, trying to connect with people by talking about relatable things can also go wrong. Adidas learned that the hard way in 2017 when it sent out an email with the subject line, “Congrats, you survived the Boston Marathon!”

Ordinarily, that would have been an effective way to reach out to people who trained for the big event and wanted to treat themselves to some new athletic gear. However, Adidas overlooked the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings that killed three people and injured hundreds of others.

Although several years passed between the time of that attack and when Adidas set the message, the brand received flack on Twitter for its choice of words.

Image Source:


Adidas soon posted an apology on the social media platform and recognized the insensitivity shown in the subject line.



Something that’s both good and possibly bad about mobile email campaigns is that they can reach people all over the world in a matter of seconds. That’s why you must be extremely careful to consider the possible ramifications of the words or phrases used, even if that means thinking about the consequences of common expressions.

For example, people often say they survived a tough day at work, a drama-filled dinner with relatives or a marathon. Given what happened at the Boston Marathon in 2013, people were not ready to associate survival with the event — since some people there didn’t live through it.

2. Subject Lines That Are Too Long or Overly Specific

People may receive dozens or even hundreds of emails each day. If someone gets an email and immediately thinks, “That doesn’t apply to me at all,” they’ll likely get frustrated with the sender for cluttering up their inboxes. Sometimes, long or overly broad subject lines also get flagged as spam by email providers.

The subject line above is an email sent to a person who signed up to earn money on the side by carrying out secret shopper assignments at local businesses. However, the requirements for qualified individuals are overly specific here — at least for a subject line. Participants must be within the given age range, plus be taking a trip to Arizona soon. Additionally, on a mobile device, the subject line got cut off after “Help us.”

That means readers don’t get to learn about the type of secret shopping opportunity, or how they could make more money by doing up to 12 assignments in a day, from the subject line alone. This email went to the spam folder even though the recipient signed up for the mailing list, too. It’s difficult to say why that happened, but it could be that the two sentences in a row with exclamation points made the message seem like junk.

You can avoid this mistake by making the subject line as brief and enticing as possible. Choose words to capture attention, and don’t become so long-winded that people don’t see most of the subject line in their email programs.

Also, consider using segmentation to help people receive emails that apply to them. Going back to the screenshot example, a better approach would be to ask people how old they are when they sign up to receive messages from the company. Then, when the sender must recruit people who are a certain age, they could use segmentation to send messages only to people that fall within the desired group.

3. Too Much Data Without Supporting Visualizations

Adding statistics to your emails can be an excellent way to position yourself as an authority or thought leader. However, readability is one of the hallmarks of a fantastic mobile email. Remember, people using smartphones or tablets digest the content on screens that are substantially smaller than what computers have. If they see huge chunks of text in an email, recipients will likely click out of it.

However, data visualizations can make statistics easier on the eyes. In the business world, they support company leaders in making more confident conclusions about how to run their enterprises. Statistics show that 77% of organizations using data visualizations noticed improved decision-making.

Visualizations apply to email marketing, too. If you’re thinking about sending a data-heavy email, you might improve it by:

  • Inserting an infographic that pulls the key points from a larger study
  • Creating a pie chart that shows the top benefits people get from a product you sell based on a poll
  • Including a line graph that illustrates the shifts in a trend over time

Making a bar graph and using contrasting colors is another worthwhile method for email. Check out this example of a visualization that backs up the earlier information about how more people use mobile devices than desktops. It shows the email open rates for people on mobile or desktop platforms.


The company put this image in a blog post rather than an email, but you can immediately notice the eye-popping effects of selecting a red-and-blue color scheme. Visualizations make data easier to understand in most cases. However, for mobile specifically, long paragraphs full of statistics could overwhelm people as they read their emails.

Think about using visualizations in an email to give a teaser of more available content. For example, you might provide a chart or two, followed by a link where people can download the full research paper containing the statistics cited in the email.

4. Using Clickbait Headlines

Clickbait is headline content intended to get people’s attention enough that they open the content and read further. Here are some examples of typical clickbait phrases and structures:

  • This one food helped her lose 10 pounds in a month
  • You’ll never believe how much he saved on airfare with this trick
  • The tax secret that led to a giant refund
  • This common ingredient could help you fight diabetes
  • The gadget that has everyone in the country talking
  • Fight aging with this mind-blowing ancient remedy

Clickbait headlines are familiar sights around the internet, but research shows they could decrease your email open rates. Using “shocking” and “secret of” in subject lines made people less likely to open them.

It’s also easier than you may think to emphasize shock value so much that it makes recipients feel frightened, then angry. See the email message below that BuzzFeed used to drive traffic to an article about people making mistakes on the job.


The “Hi, You’re Fired” subject line is enough to make anyone’s stomach lurch with sudden dread. The BuzzFeed representative responsible for it confirmed that the message was one of the most-opened emails BuzzFeed had ever sent at the time. However, it’s not difficult to see how using such a fear-inducing subject line could make people upset. They may even conclude that BuzzFeed betrayed their trust.

Since distributing that email, BuzzFeed established a policy that focused on delighting readers first and foremost. It’s best to steer clear of clickbait altogether in your mobile marketing campaigns. People are now so accustomed to it that it makes them weary. Moreover, the research above suggests it could make people less likely to open emails.

If you do choose to use it, never use a strategy that makes you seem callous or out of touch with your users. It’s OK to use urgency when warranted, such as when promoting limited-time offers. Just don’t structure your headline to make people click out of anxiety or desperation.

5. Incomplete Content

If you’re working on a tight schedule or don’t have enough team members to check emails before they go out, embarrassing oversights are more likely to happen. Recipients may think you’re unprofessional or confusing.

Take a look at this subject line from a band that sent out a message to tell fans about its upcoming tour. However, it falls short of the intended emphasis by merely saying, “We are excited to get back on the.”

The “We are excited” part might make some people interested enough to click inside and read more. However, that’ll likely only happen if they’re devoted fans of the group who care about what happens in their career. If the subject line was complete, there’s a strong chance it’d make even more casual fans click to read more about the stops on the tour.

Because this subject line example is not very long, this mistake was probably an oversight. Similar errors can happen if you include an image that should have an embedded link but doesn’t. Humans always play a part in email distribution, which makes it impossible to avoid missing content altogether. However, you can substantially cut down on it by having a thorough quality control process.

6. Image-Heavy Emails

Many people who receive emails on their mobile devices want to restrict the data used. Depending on the plans they have, using too much could result in them receiving surprisingly high bills. That’s not to say you should avoid using images, but think about whether you could convey your message without them.

Until now, we’ve seen examples of what not to do. Here’s how you can create an attractive email without the images that could eat up a person’s internet data allotment.


The branded header is the primary graphic element. Plus, several characteristics help this email stand out without lots of pictures:

  • The email was sent shortly before weather experts forecasted a hurricane to hit the recipient’s area.
  • It had short, scannable paragraphs.
  • A bulleted list breaks down the benefits of hiring Roto-Rooter.
  • The Schedule Service button follows a call-to-action to encourage readers.

See how you could craft an impactful email without letting large images do the talking? An approach like the one above is ideal when addressing mobile users. You tell them what they need to know without making them download pictures first.

Making a Mobile-Friendly Email Campaign That Resonates

The six mistakes mentioned here happen more often than people think, but you don’t need to make them too. Use this list as a guide while creating and implementing a mobile-friendly email strategy people will love.