Taking the Shortcut to Mobile Optimized Email

People are reading your email on their smartphone and tablet. Like it or not, there is no more hiding from the mobile revolution. Already around 50% of your emails are opened on a mobile device. Time to make a change and adapt your e-mails to fit the screen on the go. But if you are not so html savvy, how can you still look great – and get great results – on mobile?

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Now you might have heard about adaptive or responsive email design, this coding technique will let your email display differently depending on the device it is opened on. Especially on a smartphone it is pretty darn important to give your message design some good thought. The screen space is just too small to waste! But if you are like a lot of other e-mail marketers and not an html code expert, today I want to talk about some tactics you can employ without responsive coding, taking the “smartphone shortcut”.

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Don’t link out

With taking a shortcut I don’t mean taking the lazy way out by adding a “click to see the mobile version” link and thinking you are done. This doesn’t work. It doesn’t get your message through the mental mobile email filter. If you don’t immediately have the readers’ attention on open, it is already lost – the bad kind of shortcut always ends up this way. No matter how persuasive your email is and which tactics you use (urgency is a good one),  it will all be lost if you don’t make a great first impression.

Sometimes these “view on mobile” links even lead to a way less attractive plain text version: yuck! Have a look at this example by MAC.

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MAC "mobile" email

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How are you going to explain that gap in user experience? It might have seemed like a great idea at the time, but people don’t click on that link. And there are much better ways to make your email stand out cross-device.

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Embracing mobile

If email was invented today, everybody would have started with a mobile optimized design. Some call this movement the “mobile first” approach. But what is the shortcut to a better mobile email? Being aware that your mail is viewed on these devices and structure your message and content to fit.  Here are the four points to consider:

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Important elements first

On a mobile device, prioritizing is the word. It has always been that most attention goes towards the top of the email. But scrolling large distances on a touchscreen is much harder than with a mouse. So put the most important articles, products and design elements at the top of your email.

Often email marketing segmentation is used to send different emails or show the hidden parts of a dynamic email based on the  preferences of that recipient. But what many senders don’t realize is that you can also make your emails more effective by presenting the topics in the right order. We know that people have their own preferences, as different recipients might think of different articles as the most important ones. You can use the email data you already have to present the info in the right order. Like Bryan Eisenberg says in this article: use a massive segmentation strategy.

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Copyblogger.

Start with a single column

With responsive design, you are able to stack your columns into rows. But often  a multi-column design isn’t required in the first place.  Especially if your email is focused and features a single promotion or offer, you should consider using a single column email format. There’s no need to distract users with other content and options.

Take a look at this example from copyblogger. Their design is very simple, articles with a clickable headline and a “continue reading” link, and because of the simple design there is nothing that could break. The header is massive, though, maybe that is why they put that huge arrow in there, to entice you to scroll.

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Take a test ride

I would advise every sender to take a look at his / her own mail in real-life mobile situation. Send it to yourself, go through the mobile experience. Then you will see that it is important to simplify your design.

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Make it readable

The smartphone screen is smaller and it is harder to read from. So for the best experience, increase font size and reduce the amount of text you use at the same time. Cut at least half of your text and then remove half of that. By making the text shorter you are making it sweeter. For images, try and avoid putting (crucial) text in them. Especially italic isn’t readable at all!

These are already some great shortcuts to a better mobile email without heavy coding. What is your favourite mobile email tips?