Natalie Ustymenko

Head of Direct Marketing

Email marketing with curry flavor: features of e-marketing in India

What makes e-marketing in India especially interesting? The answer is the fact that the number of social media users and those who prefer email as the main channel to communicate with companies is growing every year.

Accordingly to the poll provided by in 2017::  

  • 61% preferred to communicate with companies via email.

  • 31% are most likely will make a purchase after receiving promo email.

  • 82% check their inbox on mobile phones (with only 39% in 2013).

Only 1% don’t use smartphones, and their age is 45+

As for preferred channels for communication with brands, answers were as follows:  

By the way, in 2013 there were 45% preferring SMS Update and 19% - phone calls.

It means that email has become the most preferred channel to receive news and communicate with companies. Of course, there is a serious difference from SMS and phone calls - promo email message allows to show products visually and includes an option to order it from website immediately when needed. For company, it’s an advantage too - the most informative and cheapest channel is convenient for clients to communicate.

What could differentiate email campaign for India from others? We tried to analyze it deeper.

Adjusting for mobile devices

We managed to find just a couple of really adaptive promo emails. We don’t mean technical adaptivity here but rather design: to make email look attractive on all devices. This goal is achieved in the following ways:

  • emails that are made of pics only. The old good 20/80 rule no longer works here. There is a very small amount of text in promo email, and it’s usually relocated beyond the footer (if the text is present at all).

  • short email subjects that are displayed fully on mobile screen. Subject should not contain more than 30 characters.  

The way it looks in email client:

This is how email subject is displayed on mobile screen:

  • In email campaigns for India, commonly used font sizes are 14 px or larger. This way, the text becomes readable on any device, and email client is less likely to find the applied font too small and increase it automatically (probably damaging the whole email appearance).

Images and design

A good-looking image is not enough - it's important for an image to match your audience taste. When opening the promo email, user must be able to see a connection between himself/herself and what he or she sees.

Photos of girls or people’s faces in email have to be appropriate for the target region. A typical mistake of our marketers is using stock photos with “Hollywood smiles” that are not appropriate for Eastern Europe regions. User doesn’t see himself in these photos in any way consequently he is not likely to feel something in common with people in photos.  

Very often, there is also a motion in photos. Such images seem more vivid by themselves, and smiling faces emphasize once again that your goods will make client happier. Look at the images used in banners by an online children’s store.

Mobile apps

According to, mobile apps market in India is one of the most rapidly growing in the world. In mid-2015, 52 million people received access to Internet (much more comparing to the previous year). Number of orders made via mobile devices is actively growing too; about 200 million mobile wallets were registered in India in early 2016.

Mobile apps market in India has significantly grown in 2015 and has become a leader of Google Play downloads. Users downloaded over 6 billion apps in 2016 compared with 3.5 billion in 2015 - this is up to 71% higher than worldwide 15% download increase rate.

Which platforms are commonly used: 

Thanks to that, almost every online store has a mobile version of their website and a mobile application; we can argue about pros and cons of this fact for quite a long time. Each email campaign for India contains an obligatory block that invites to install a mobile app. Audience is ready and open to install applications and make orders using them. 

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Email length

It seems obvious that promo emails should be short as most users read messages on mobiles. But is it really so? As for e-marketing in India, there are no common standards. To compare, let's look at two promo newsletters from different companies selling clothes and jewelry. 

#1 A sample from JABONG newsletters. Segment: clothes


#2 Promo newsletters by Caratlane. Segment: jewelry

We can see one basic call, but with products samples that significantly extend the email. The simple design makes it easy to read fast, so you don’t even notice that message is long. 

We can’t say that any of these emails is bad. As company has used this template, it means that emails are effective for their database clients and each email campaign fulfills its mission to take clients to website. But what’s interesting here:

Gmail is the most popular email client not only worldwide but in India too - almost 84% users choose it to work with messages.

As for our clients sending email campaigns for India - about 70% of the recipients use Gmail, 20% prefer Yahoo and 10% - other email boxes. It turns out that it’s better to make such email that will not be blocked by Gmail. Remember this when creating and testing your promo emails. And yeah, as for responsiveness - there’s no responsiveness in their messages :) No matter how many emails we would open, only the some of them were responsive. 

Make a play with emotions (design)

The type of animation depends on the emotion the company wants to evoke. It may be a video shot, cartoon or various freeze-frame shots. Most often there is no special call in animations - it's just an element for subscribers’ entertainment, and another way to stand out among a multitude of competitors.


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One more feature of email marketing in India: far not all of our holidays are applicable to Indian market. Just a basic example: even Christmas is celebrated on different days by different nations and cities, not to mention another continent.

For example, there is an annual holiday Akshaya Tritiya. Have you heard of it? Probably, but only in case you are subscribed to newsletters by Indian companies, interested in the Indian culture or have read this article before.


We don’t celebrate this holiday, same as the Indians don’t put candies under the pillows on St. Nicholas eve. It’s important not just to understand what holidays there are in this market area, but also to know their meanings, related customs and beliefs. Also remember that there are many national events but some holidays may be only appropriate to some states, consequently, they are not celebrated by the rest of the country.  

Attractive emails are a good thing to possess but don’t forget about automation and segmentation. It’s crucial to learn your audience and send only relevant, narrow-focused emails.

See you! :)

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Natalie Ustymenko

Head of Direct Marketing

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