For better or for worse, our smartphones have become an extension of us. We check our phones dozens—even hundreds—of times per day, and open most of our emails (53%) on mobile devices.

So, for marketers, having a comprehensive mobile email strategy isn't just a best-practice, it's table stakes.

When your emails are created with mobile readers in mind, they can grab subscribers' attention—whether they're running errands or sitting in the back seat of an Uber.

Here are five ways marketers can use consumers' mobile addiction to better reach their customers.

1. Enhance the buyers' overall journey, not just their email experience

It's easy for marketers to think of customers in terms of single interactions, but that approach loses sight of the high-quality experience overall that customers expect (and which results in their making the decision to purchase).

Your relationship with a customer is like a relationship with an old friend: It's a series of interactions, full of history, that shouldn't be taken for granted. Marketers need to make sure the experience throughout the customer journey is consistent across all marketing channels, from emails to landing pages to shopping carts.

After all, an email that looks gorgeous on a phone doesn't do much good if it leads to a landing page with a broken design and copy that takes a microscope to read.

2. Make it relevant, personal, and on time—every time

Personalization has gone far beyond simply inserting a subscriber's first name in an email. For truly personalized content, it's critical to understand your audience's likes and dislikes, and to then customize messaging to meet their needs at a specific point in time.

If you want to tailor your messages, forget about the general statistics you've seen about optimizing email. Your audience is unique, so use your own subscriber data to track when your mobile subscribers open emails, how much time is spent viewing them, and what content is being clicking on. Then, use those insights to continually adjust your strategy and test new ideas.

Your subscribers will appreciate the more personal approach, and you'll appreciate the positive results.

3. Keep mobile design trends top of mind

Designing emails for mobile poses a lot of challenges that marketers don't face when creating emails for desktops. Design for the small screen first: If it looks good on mobile, it'll also look good on desktop.

Here are a few quick tips:

  • Make your font size at least 16 px for easy scanning.
  • Embrace the scroll. Design in a single column and break content into chunks with clear headlines.
  • Make call-to-action buttons large enough to be easily tapped (at least 44 square px).
  • Customize the preview text. It's valuable real estate in the mobile inbox.

4. Go big and bold (but clean and simple)

Humans process images much faster than they do text, which means that even the most compelling and targeted copy can't measure up to an attention-grabbing image or video. And don't forget about GIFs; they can boost conversion rates by up to 130%, according to MarketingSherpa.

And most important, almost every successful mobile email campaign has something in common: The messages are clean and simple.

We marketers have a lot to say, so it's tempting to cram as much as possible into every email we send. But 80% of people only scan your email, so a cluttered, overstuffed email is a one-way ticket to the trash bin.

The iPhone's Peek and Pop capability allows users to open the thumbnail of an email before loading the full content, making at-a-glance readability even more important.

Focus on a single goal, keep it valuable, and you'll score much better results.

5. Get creative with content

Brands are always looking for new ways to engage with customers, but there's a fine line between sharing content for the sake of sharing it, and sharing content in a way that surprises and delights your audience.

Some brands are testing new email content that mobile users can reveal only by tilting or shaking the phone. Other brands are taking advantage of user-generated content, such as social media posts; these Instagram and Twitter posts can easily be dropped into emails to share real customer recommendations that instantly add credibility to whatever you're promoting.

As technology becomes more innovative, brands can take advantage to deliver unique and engaging mobile experiences to customers, so stay on top of the latest trends to keep subscribers opening, and clicking.

* * *

Marketers who aren't doing everything they can to optimize their mobile strategy are missing out on a huge opportunity: An email inbox now lives in the pockets of 186 million people in the US. Follow the tips in this article, and you'll turn that mobile dependence into the kind of brand loyalty that keeps subscribers coming back again and again.

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image of Cynthia Price

Cynthia Price is the VP of marketing at Litmus. Her team grows and supports the Litmus and email community through content marketing, demand generation, and events. She has a passion for authentic communications and the power of email.