8 best practice tips for mobile-optimized emails

Mobile email marketing best practices
What is mobile email marketing?
Mobile email best practices
Final thoughts

More people now open their email on mobile devices than on desktops and webmail clients. That means if you’re not optimizing your email campaigns for mobile, you’re likely missing engagement opportunities.

According to Litmus, 43% of all email campaigns are now read on mobile devices, compared to 19.4% on desktops and 36.1% on webmail clients. Therefore, mobile-optimized emails should now be the main focus of all email marketers.

So, what is mobile email marketing and how can you optimize your emails to be read on mobile devices?

In this article, we break down what mobile email marketing is and why this marketing channel is so important. We also share eight mobile email optimization best practices to help you improve your marketing efforts.

What is mobile email marketing?

Mobile email marketing refers to the process of optimizing your email marketing templates to become mobile-first. The process involves adjusting the text and email design so that it fits on smartphone devices and is easily accessible to mobile device users. This is also known as responsive email, or an email with special coding that allows text and images to display perfectly across different devices.

Here’s a look at the top 10 email service providers overall (including non-mobile opens).

  • Apple iPhone: 38.9%

  • Gmail: 27.2%

  • Apple Mail: 11.5%

  • Outlook: 7.8%

  • Yahoo! Mail: 5.4%

  • Google Android: 1.5%

  • Apple iPad: 1.4%

  • Samsung Mail: 1.2%

  • Outlook.com: 0.9%

  • Outlook Mobile: 0.2%

Zooming in on mobile opens:

  • Apple iPhone: 90%

  • Google Android: 3.5%

  • Apple iPad: 3.2

As 43% of emails are opened on mobile, it’s possible that if your emails aren’t mobile optimized some subscribers will delete them or go so far as to unsubscribe after opening a single email that doesn’t look good on their mobile device.

If you’re not optimizing your emails for mobile, you may be driving away potential customers and harming your conversion rates.

It’s important for all marketers to employ best practices for email marketing on mobile. Here’s how to make it happen.

Mobile email best practices

Let’s look at all the methods you can apply to your email marketing strategy to create mobile-friendly emails for mobile readers.

Spend time on the preheader text

Traditional email marketing best practices say that your subject header text is one of the most important elements of any email.

While subject lines still matter on mobile, just as much attention should be paid to the preheader text (or the one to two lines of HTML text that appear at the very top of emails on mobile devices).

That’s because preheader text is assigned more room than subject lines on mobile devices and it loads before the body of the email, so it’s typically the first thing readers will see. Make sure you’re capitalizing on this real estate by using it to highlight important or eye-catching information.

Keep content short and sweet

You’ll usually have a tiny window of time in which to catch readers’ attention and inspire them to take you up on your call-to-action (CTA). You need to draw readers in immediately, from your email subject lines to your body copy, and you shouldn’t dawdle when getting to your point.

Keep your CTA buttons and any offer text above the fold so readers don’t have to hunt for it, then break up the text so the email is easily scannable.

Bonus? Minimizing your email content may improve load times, which can increase the likelihood that people actually read what you have to say.

All in all, when looking at the best practices for mobile-optimized emails, content minimalism is one of the most underutilized tactics.

Let your sentences breathe

Large chunks of text are hard to digest. While longer paragraphs may look good on a desktop, scrolling through them from a mobile device with a smaller screen size can quickly turn readers away.

Avoid this by breaking your text down into smaller paragraphs. A good starting point is keeping each chunk of text shorter than 20 words.

Add spacings to let sentences breathe and make your content more scannable by adding bold text at the most important points you want to emphasize.

Design for portrait and landscape views

Remember that mobile screens can automatically flip the orientation of an email from portrait to landscape and back again, so your mobile email design needs to look good in either of these formats.

One of the easiest ways to achieve responsive design is to constrain yourself to a single-column layout, rather than multi-column. It’s also helpful to employ plenty of white space so the responsive email template doesn’t look cluttered in either view.

Make social media icons and CTAs touch-friendly

If you want your readers to engage with your brand on their mobile devices (beyond just reading your emails), then you need to make it easy for them to do so.

That means any links or call-to-action buttons that are meant to direct mobile users to a landing page on your website, or to your social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc., should be easily clickable with the touch of a thumb and large enough for people to click without having to zoom in. The same goes for form-fill fields. The standard minimum for touch-friendly buttons is 44x44 pixels.

Enlarge your fonts

One of the simplest ways to ensure your marketing emails are touch-friendly is to make the text size bigger than you would for emails that are opened on desktops. Of course, it’s important not to go overboard as you don‘t want one word to fill the entire screen.

Your goal is legibility that minimizes the effort readers have to take in order to digest your content. In other words, you don’t want readers to have to zoom in or out in order to process whatever’s on their small screen.

Shrink your images

There are several reasons to scale back your image file size when you’re sending emails that will be opened on mobile phones. For starters, mobile devices load images slower than desktop computers or laptops, and since readers are unlikely to put up with slow load times, massive images that take a while to load can eat into your email open rates and click-through rates.

Additionally, large images and large email sizes can use up readers’ data at a quick rate, which will not endear them to your brand. For these reasons, images should be kept small or left out entirely.

Test, test and test your emails

Very often, you may feel like your responsive email design is top-notch, only to later realize that you forgot spacing, an important highlight or other elements that make reading easier.

Before sending emails to your subscribers, make sure you test your content on your own mobile device and question your own user experience. Then use segmentation and marketing automation for further A/B testing.

Therefore, to improve your mobile email marketing campaign, go ahead and send it to yourself first.

Final thoughts

Even after you’ve employed these strategies, don’t simply send mobile-optimized emails off into the ether.

It’s important to preview your email in different email clients and on multiple types of mobile devices to ensure it looks the way you intended. Only then should you hit “send”.

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