According to our stats, you are just as likely to be reading this article on a mobile device as you are on a computer. Same goes for any email that we send to you. In fact, 55 percent of email opens occur on a mobile device, according to a February 2016 report from Litmus. If you haven’t ensured your template(s) look great on a mobile device yet, don’t worry, you are not alone. But it should be tops on your 2016 priority list. If you need convincing, you need only take a look at the metrics for the last email marketing message you sent. How many subscribers viewed your message on a mobile device?
What exactly is mobile email?
Mobile email employs a variety of design and coding strategies to ensure email looks great on desktop screens and mobile screens. Strategies may include using mobile-friendly design. A mobile-friendly email scales down from a desktop to a mobile screen while retaining its readability. No special code is used to adjust image sizes or font sizes, or hide or swap images. Mobile-friendly email design is a basic way to design email that looks good on small screens.
Other strategies include using advanced coding techniques such as responsive and fluid design. We’ll explore the advanced coding techniques in greater detail in a future Good Thinking post.
How do I know if my email is “mobile-friendly”? Answer these four questions!
Pull up your company’s latest marketing email on your mobile device — in your iPhone or Droid native email app — and take a good look at it.
- Do you struggle to read the email on a small screen?
- Does your template design break?
- Do you have to zoom in and out to make sense of the images and read the words?
- Does trying to tap a link feel like you’re playing whack-a-mole?
If you’ve answered YES! to any of these four questions, your email is not mobile-friendly, and at the minimum, it’s time to rethink and redesign your template. Here’s why: If it’s not easy to read and take action on your email from a mobile device, subscribers are more likely to give up on it than they are to zoom, scroll or revisit it from their computers. When people receive an email that doesn’t display well on a mobile phone, more than 46 percent either delete the email or unsubscribe, according to BlueHornet’s 2015 Consumer Views of Email Marketing. That’s a huge missed opportunity!
What Works on Mobile
As you redesign an email template to work well on a mobile phone, consider these recommendations:
Design mobile-first. When designing an email template for two different experiences, mobile and desktop devices, there will be times when you have to decide which experience is more important. When faced with that decision, choose the mobile design. Generally mobile design translates well to desktop, but the reverse is not true. As you’re designing, be sure to view your design scaled down by about 50 percent.
Drop multiple columns. One-column email design works extremely well on mobile devices. And a single-column desktop design translates well to mobile devices. If you’re a newsletter editor, you’re probably wondering what you should do with your sidebars. We’re going to be brutally honest with you: You can live without them. If the information contained in your sidebar must appear in your email, consider putting it in an article or moving it to a standing element or footer at the bottom of your message.
Go big. If you’re using email that scales down on a mobile phone, bump up your font size to help make your copy easier to read as it shrinks on a phone. In other words, make sure your font sizes are large enough to read when they are scaled to 50 percent.
Simplify everything. Complicated messages create friction that could prevent your subscribers from taking the action you are requesting of them. Complicated messages do not translate well on a mobile device. Here are a few things to simplify:
- Navigation: Narrow Down or Ditch. Years ago, it was a best practice to include your main website navigation in the header — or, gasp, sidebar — of your email. Offering your entire web navigation in your email can be a distraction to readers, particularly on a mobile device. Take a look at your click-through metrics to determine whether you can omit some or even all of your main navigation links without reducing the effectiveness of your email campaigns.
- Calls to Action: Stay Focused. Consider using just one dominant call to action per email. Usually that call to action is a request that your subscriber click a link to shop, read more, RSVP or otherwise convert. Your primary goal as an email marketer is to get a subscriber to a website landing page where he or she can follow through on that action. Even for a primarily informational e-newsletter, the clear call to action in the email is “read more,” which drives traffic to your website, which in turn creates potential business opportunities for you.
- Copy: Keep it Short. Mobile readers are on the go; they may be at work, waiting in line at the grocery store or at lunch. It’s a dirty little secret, but many people are reading your email from the bathroom. Fourteen percent of people admitted to this during a 2014 BlueHornet survey! Clearly, you’re competing with subscribers’ stolen moments as they go about their days, so keep your messaging concise.
Stay tuned for our next blog post to learn more about making the switch to mobile emails. We’ll share details on the different advanced ways we code emails so they look great on phones and on desktop computers. Katey Charles Communications clients also should look for an email from us in the next few weeks announcing the addition of several mobile templates to our template library.