Two-thirds of Internet users open emails on a smartphone or tablet. Are you still optimizing your emails for desktop users? You shouldn’t be; instead, use these tips to go mobile-first.
In 2014, 66 percent of emails were opened on smartphones or tablets, with smartphones being the most popular device for email reading.
You can’t ignore this trend. Instead of designing your campaigns primarily for desktop, it’s time to accommodate mobile users. For email campaigns that are user-friendly and drive action across all devices, you must move from a “mobile friendly” ideology to “mobile first.”
Here’s how to make your emails optimized for your mobile subscribers.
Keep Your Subject Lines Short
David Daniels, founder and CEO of The Relevancy Group LLC, has talked about the concept of “inbox triage” for years already. In a survey conducted by his company of over 1,000 U.S. consumers, The Relevancy Group found that 42 percent of respondents used mobile devices to triage their email inboxes.
Essentially, this is the process of weeding through what is important and unimportant. That means people delete unimportant or irrelevant emails from their inboxes while on their mobile devices, leaving the ones that make the cut for when they get back to their desktop computer.
That’s why it’s important for your emails to make a good first impression. If you don’t make the first cut on mobile, your emails are unlikely to be read at all.
The trick is keeping your subject lines short with the most important info up front. Since mobile screens are small, it’s common for subject lines to be cut off. At times, users may only see 30 or so characters in a subject line.
That said, if your subject line needs to be longer—those with six to 10 words tend to perform best overall—you’ll want to put the most important information toward the beginning to catch your subscribers’ eyes. Let’s take an example. When read in its entirety, this makes a decent headline:
Shop Custom Christmas Cards Today for an Extra 50% Off
Unfortunately, the thing that’s going to really capture your readers’ attention—50 percent off—will be hidden on most mobile screens. Instead, a better headline for mobile may be:
Last Day: 50% off Christmas Cards + Free Shipping
With this alternative headline, readers get a sense of the urgency and the deal in the first few words, so you may just make the cut on mobile.
Be Brief But Bold
While 42 percent of consumers are using mobile to weed through their inboxes, another third primarily use their mobile device when accessing email. For those who open emails on mobile, you must accommodate their needs.
Seventy-five percent of smartphone users delete emails they can’t read on mobile, so even if you pass the first test with your headline, you’ll have to pass the second with readability.
In The Relevancy Group study mentioned above, 32 percent of users agreed that messages on mobile are too small to interact with.
That said, it’s important that your emails stray from this “too small” trend. Start by keeping your emails short. That way, readers don’t have to endlessly scroll, and you’ll have more room to increase your font size to make your message easier to read.
Salesforce.com reports that shorter emails with fewer graphics receive up to a 146 percent increase in conversions.
You also want the most important messages to be bold and easy to pick out. A clear call-to-action button, for example, is easier to spot and click on while on a mobile device than an in-text link is.
Be Smart About Formatting
Most users—no matter the device they’re on—don’t typically read content word-for-word. Instead, they’ll start by scanning your email to see if it’s something they want to continue reading. That’s where smart formatting comes into play. You’ve already gotten them to open your email; now get them to read with easy-to-digest content. Consider these tips:
- Make the content scannable: When readers are doing a once-over of your email, they’re looking to pick up on the most important information. You can highlight this with images using text overlay, subheadings, bolded text, and colored call-to-action buttons.
- Keep your emails in one column: Two-column emails are common, where one column is for primary information and calls-to-action while the second is for secondary information. However, mobile requires more of a top-down approach, so you’ll want to keep everything in one column.
- Pay attention to email width: A width between 600 and 650 pixels is appropriate for virtually all email clients.
- Avoid navigation bars: Remember that your email isn’t a landing page, and navigation bars only create more clutter.
- Create prominent calls-to-action: Using a finger as a mouse can sometimes produce inaccuracies, especially when links are close together. To make it easier on the mobile user, make calls-to-action large, and be sure you’re using a button that renders even when other images don’t.
- Design for the tap: The “finger tap” is becoming more common opposed to the click, but that doesn’t make it any easier. Start with larger font and call-to-action buttons, but also remember that lists of links can be tough to use on mobile, so you’ll want to avoid them or increase your line spacing.
Think Beyond The Tap
The email experience shouldn’t be just about the email itself. Your email campaigns are designed to drive action. However, the page you send your subscribers to is just as important to driving action as your initial email is.
This is where you need to think beyond the click or tap.
A mobile user who finds your email optimized for their needs and decides to “Buy Now” or “Claim Your Discount” is looking for the same experience on the next page. If that’s not what they find, it’s likely that they’ll abandon your offer before they fully follow through on it.
In addition to that, you must keep your pages fast and optimized (mobile speeds can be slow at times). I suggest you to find a host that is fast and with minimal downtime.
That said, it’s as important to link to mobile-friendly pages as it is to design a mobile-friendly email campaign.
Not all email users are the same, so you may have to experiment with how your own subscribers interact with your emails. Understanding your audience and the purpose of your email first will help guide you in the right direction with your email design. If you find that your subscribers prefer mobile-optimized emails, start with the abovementioned tips to deliver the user-friendly experience they’re looking for. How will you tweak your emails based on this information?
About the author: Mike Wallagher is the author of the website startbloggingonline.com, which serves to help anybody who wants to learn more about blogs and blogging. Mike began blogging in 2009, and since then has managed over 20 blogs some with well over 500,000 monthly visitors.
Besides blogging, he also provides consulting for small businesses and startups looking to accelerate their growth.