Email Massacre – Preventing the Mass Deletion of Email Marketing Messages

You’ve seen the statistics about emails being opened on mobile devices and you are scared. If you are not worried then you should be. You see people opening their emails on crowded trains and buses and immediately deleting most of them.

You do it yourself. Scan email inbox – check for anything interesting; delete every one. There are ways to prevent this email massacre.

We all know that email use on phones is increasing, but the oft-quoted figures relate to users: Figures on how effective mobile email is for marketers are harder to find. When you do look at the numbers there is a lot of actionable data available.

1. Global Figures for Email Deletion

Most emails are deleted without opening. That’s a fact. The exact figures vary by industry as shown in the chart below.


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A 25% open rate equals a 75% ignored/deleted rate. Open rates on mobile devices are lower than on desktops. Or in plain English, your emails are more likely to be deleted if the user first sees them on a phone or tablet.


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The chart above shows the number of emails opened on mobile and desktop devices by sector.


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When you look at the much-lower conversions for email opened on a mobile device you can see the need to avoid your emails being opened on phones and tablets.


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The chart above shows peak times for email opening on different types of devices. This demonstrates the necessity of segmenting your list by time-zone and staggering your emails to maximize the chance of a subscriber opening them on a desktop or laptop computer.

2. Knowing YOUR Mobile Email Statistics

Knowing global or industry averages is not enough. Your email service provider (ESP) analytics will enable you to understand your own subscribers’ behavior.


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The screenshot above shows the email analytics feature from GetResponse. You can segment on the basis of time zone or IP address to avoid commuting times when office workers would first see your emails on their phones and delete it or never open it again on a bigger screen.

3. Reducing Your Email Deletion Rate

Use responsive email designs, that way if your email is opened on a phone your mobile subscriber is more likely to read it.


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Responsive email design will not make up for all the distractions that mobile users are subject to, but it removes some annoyances. A large number of subscribers say that they use mobile devices to pre-screen their emails for later opening on a larger screen.


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This underlines the importance of responsive email design, even if your target user will eventually open your messages on a 27 inch desktop monitor.

4. Improving Your Click to Open Ratio

Clicks to open on mobile fell by 15% in 2013.


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The chart above is more evidence against encouraging mobile opens of your emails. Opens are only the start – Most opened email is deleted after 2 seconds – But an opened email is at least a chance to engage the reader.

Increase clicks by segmenting to keep your emails relevant. Use US$ prices for US subscribers, Euro prices for Eurozone subscribers and GB pounds for UK subscribers. Avoid talking about local issues that do not affect your entire list.

5. Tips to Avoid the Mobile Email Massacre

  • Try to avoid mobile openings. People using mobiles are often multi-tasking, so do not give your email the attention it deserves.
  • Know your list. Everyone’s subscribers are different. They live in different countries, different work habits and different mobile device usage habits. It is only when you really analyze and understand your own subscribers that you can maximize your email open rate.
  • Segment your list. It is no longer just an option. When you look at the effect of timing on email open rates you realize that MUST segment your list based on subscribers’ locations.
  • Use responsive designs. Some users will open your messages on phones and tablets. You can reduce the number of deletions by designing your email for their screen. Use large fonts and big call to action buttons, keep word count to the absolute minimum and link to a blog post giving more details.
  • Make your list love you. If your subscribers love you then they are less likely to delete your emails. Love your list and they will love you back.
  • Use killer headlines.One in three subscribers make a decision to open your email based purely on the subject line.

One Word of Warning

Test, test and keep testing. It is not a good idea to rely on generalizations and global statistics when you are dealing with a narrow group of self-selected individuals like a list of email subscribers.

Any good email service provider will include A/B testing as part of their service. Use it, because it can make the difference between success and failure. If you run 50 successive A/B tests and each gives you a 5% improvement in click through rate you might expect your overall click through rate to go up by a factor of 2.5 (5% x 50 = 250%). It actually goes up by a factor of 11.47 (1.0550).

Your Findings?

Is there anything in this article that you strongly agree or disagree with? Please share in the comment box below.

Thumb & Social Image Source: Email Marketing via Shutterstock.

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