Official figures vary…

But somewhere between 55% and 75% of all email is now read on mobile.

One report predicts by end of 2018…

80% of people will read their email on a mobile device.

That’s huge.

And as a copywriter, it’s something you must be aware of.

Indeed, sat at a little wooden table in the corner of one of the few old-fashioned pubs still left in Shoreditch…

I sip my pint and wonder what to write about for this week’s piece.

Mobile in hand, I open my inbox and scan for some inspiration.

There’s not much there.

A couple of half-arsed marketing emails with subject lines that run off the screen and make little sense…

Emails that look to be from actual people I know but whose intentions are betrayed because of the subject line and preview text, which obviously aren’t personal…

And some unread content emails that are very obviously content emails and I’ve subconsciously left unread to ‘read later’ when I have more time, or am not drinking and thinking about insight I can share with you.

Then it hits me.

Copywriters just aren’t thinking about mobile.

Not properly, at least.

I quickly realise this subject has been on my mind for a while…

In fact, I’ve been skirting around it for years. I wrote a long time ago in this very email about how important writing for mobile will become.

But now it is become.

That’s a weird sentence.

Anyway, examples…

Just today I spoke to a copywriter about including earlier links in email copy to prevent people having to scroll on mobile…

This thought was on the back of the copy call I had with Dennis Murphy who explained this was one of the techniques they used widely at Digital Marketer…

And this on the back of a copy call with a good friend, Grant Perry, an internet marketer who confirmed that it’s all about mobile these days and everyone needs to get with dat.

(Grant didn’t say ‘dat’. Sometimes I say ‘dat’ because I’m getting old and I like to be embarrassing as though I’m down with the kids.)

But look…

That’s enough indulgent exposition for this piece…

Let’s get to the nit und the grit…

If your new sales letter isn’t converting as well as you hoped…

I’ve put together a simple to follow guide that outlines more than twenty ways to boost the conversion of your current copy. I guarantee these will help improve your sales letter – or your money back.

You can get hold of a copy here.

Keep your subject lines short

A really simple thing to do to immediately improve your writing for mobile is to remember to keep your subject lines short.

On mobile devices many subject lines run off the screen and can therefore make any cleverly crafted sentences meaningless.

Aside from run-off, some mail applications now cut the middle of an email subject line and replace with an ellipsis…

A crude example:

Really glad I don’t hate this thing, could become:

Really glad I…hate this thing.

The meaning is completely changed.

As a general rule of thumb, I would look to keep subject lines between 50-70 characters, which usually equates to around 10-15 words.

Also, where possible, try to ‘front load’ your subject lines so that if words do get chopped off at the end, the reader can still get the gist of the message from the start of the subject line.

Otherwise, normal rules apply to the content… you can use intrigue, scarcity, a benefit, a topical news reference… the list is almost endless.

Follow though on the personal touch

As someone who likely receives a lot of marketing material, you’re probably used to seeing the old inbox disruption technique of replacing a brand name with a person’s name i.e. your email from Tesco Mobile suddenly comes from Simon McSimon.

Whether it’s a person you know or not, a real person’s name has a naturally more engaging effect in your inbox, particularly when you’re reading something on such a personal device as a mobile phone.

It’s a good technique for increasing open rate.

But there’s a problem people tend to forget about…

On most mobile mail apps, as well as seeing the ‘from address’, a reader can see the subject line and a preview pane.

And too many times I see these two secondary elements betray the personalisation as marketing material.

For example, if Simon McSimon was really sending me a personal email, why would the subject line be ‘10 Reasons to Invest in Crypto Currency Today’.

My mate Ritchie would never send me an email like that, why is Simon McSimon?

Must be dodgy.

At the same time, in the preview pane of the email I can see that it says ‘Dear Reader, Cryptocurrencies are mad right now and you should be investing…’

Again, who writes personal emails like that? No one.

Personal emails are scrappy and informal. The subject lines are usually short, possibly even one word. And though I don’t normally like using them, questions can sometimes work.

Remember personal emails are usually in reference to something you’ve already been talking about and the message usually starts without a hello, and definitely not ‘Dear Reader’.

So, make sure when you use the classic attention disrupter of a person’s name in the place of a brand name, you remember how it will appear on mobile and follow through to make it authentic.

Assume your reader is busy and go for an early click

I guess one of the best pieces of advice is to just spend a bit of time analysing how you interact with your own email on mobile.

Do it for a while today and have a think about what it means.

How did you interact with this email, for example?

Hopefully – if you’ve read this far – I’ve done my job and I’ve managed to write something vaguely interesting and engaging enough to read all the way to this point.

Alternatively, it might be that you saw this email land in your inbox a while ago and saved it for now, and because you’ve got more time you’re reading this far in.

That’s cool too as it shows you value my thoughts enough to come back to them.

But frankly, this is rare.

First, it’s rare to keep someone’s attention for this long when reading on a mobile… and if I expected you to click out from this email to a sales message or something else, by this point it would be pretty unlikely.

To make that happen, I would have been better off including a link around the third or fourth line, so that you didn’t have to scroll down to see it.

Second, the idea that busy people are going to set your email aside to read later is pretty naïve.

Sure, it does happen sometimes.

But most of the time, even if the reader has the best intentions to come back to read at a later time, a mobile inbox fills up so quickly emails are soon forgotten and other stuff just naturally gets in the way.

So, you really need to think about why you are writing to your reader right now.

As Dan Denning, a very skilled and clever writer, explained in a recent copy call, once you’ve written something you plan to send to a customer, you should review it a second time to ask yourself: what makes this so important that the reader has to read it now?

I did it with this piece and taking into account the other insight I hope I’ve shared here, I identified that the reason you should read this now is because the copy you’re writing for mobile right now might not be working.

I rewrote the subject line and preview pane copy to reflect this.

Did it work?

You’ll have tell me! Hit reply to this email and let me know your thoughts.

Frankly, there’s a lot more to this copywriting for mobile that I could go into and I’ll continue another time.

For now, I’ll leave you with one more stat I think is worth knowing:

You see, it might be you’re thinking… yeah, it’s all well and good adapting copy for mobile but do people buy stuff on mobile?

The answer is most definitely yes:

According to TechCrunch around 40% of all sales on Black Friday were on mobile.

Until the next tech revolution comes along, mobile is most definitely where it’s at – so make sure you keep your copy up to date to work well on it.


P.S. In case you haven’t see before, as I say, I’ve also put together another simple guide that outlines my own training methods as well as detailing more than twenty ways to boost the conversion of your current copy.

Filled with specific writing tasks I’ve used to train successful copywriters, I guarantee this will help improve your copywriting – or your money back.

You can get hold of a copy here.

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