Email Marketing

Email on the Go: 5 Ways to Optimize Your Emails for Mobile Devices

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Confession time: My smartphone has become an integral part of my daily life. It lets me keep in touch with my family, take food photos on a whim, and look up plant names wherever I may be.  

Statista estimates there are almost five billion other people who actively use mobile devices—and checking email is the second most popular smartphone activity. Plus, Hubspot reports that mobile device users account for 41 percent of all email views. 

These eye-popping stats mean that implementing mobile optimization is a crucial component of a successful email marketing campaign. Emails must be easy to read and interact with on smaller screens.  

A poorly optimized email can lead to lost opportunities from an engagement and revenue standpoint simply due to a bad user experience. 

Check out our list of optimization tips so you can confidently design a best-in-class mobile campaign. 

1. First impressions matter 👋 

Mobile optimization step one: Avoid lengthy subject lines and use preheader text. 

This is the time to get creative, because you want to snap up subscribers’ attention quickly. Plus, you’ll want to avoid losing part of your carefully crafted subject line to mailbox provider display cutoffs. Try limiting your subject line length to 35-40 characters and use eye-catching emojis appropriately. 

Use the preheader text to add more flavor and context, keeping in mind that you’ll want to keep the length somewhere between 40 and 100 characters. 

If you’re having trouble with downsizing, check out these excellent subject line examples and find out how to constructively integrate preheader text into your inbox strategy. 

2. Keep them reading 👓  

Your mobile template should be designed to capture and hold subscribers’ interest.

When it comes to writing email copy, less is more. Avoid irritating your subscribers with overly long emails when a simple, concise offer will do. 

A single-column design layout generally looks better on a smaller device than a multi-column layout. The latter sometimes aren’t even fully responsive, meaning a user would need to zoom in to be able to read the content, which can be an instant turnoff. 

A mobile device may be an important accessibility tool for users with disabilities, so be sure to include alt tags and avoid creating image-only emails. 

Dark mode is also popular on mobile, so having a thoughtful dark mode version available can help fulfill your customers’ expectations. 

Next, let’s talk color. People are drawn to color, and using contrasting colors well can be visually appealing. However, it is possible to do too much of a good thing, so don’t go overboard with a kaleidoscopic effect (unless that’s what you’re selling)! 

Negative space is a great way to separate and highlight individual images, buttons, or text. This will keep those key elements of your template from bleeding together and becoming an overwhelming experience for the reader.  

Finally, don’t make subscribers wait around to read your content. Reduce email load times by reducing image and text size. This includes GIFs (here are some tips on how to implement them). 

3. Time to engage them 🤝 

After you’ve hooked subscribers’ attention, it’s time to get them to take action. 

An email’s call to action should be concise and relevant. Use active language and don’t be afraid to creatively involve the tone and feel of your brand. 

Remember, CTAs don’t always have to be purchase-oriented. They can be a great way to encourage recipients to engage differently—to reach out to you directly, browse relevant product reviews, read an interesting blog post, follow you on social media for the latest trends, or even visit one of your physical stores to see what’s new. 

Pair the CTA with a button that uses a larger font size or a pop of color, and surround it with some negative space to really give it the spotlight. 

4. Let’s make sure this works 👩🔬 

Ready to hit send? Not so fast. Testing is a crucial part of the mobile optimization process. To make sure your message appears as expected on every mobile device, use the following tips: 

  • Use a design previewer: Most email service providers (ESPs) have built-in drag-and-drop editors that default to designing in desktop view. Luckily, most of them also allow you to check whether your design is mobile-friendly or not. By using the mobile preview mode of your email builder, you can check if your design is mobile-responsive. Make sure that elements are stacking in a way that makes sense visually, and that the font is resizing correctly or is still easy to read if it’s part of a graphic. Use a previewer tool like Validity Everest’s design test functionality to see how the email will render across different desktop, mobile, tablet, and webmail clients. 
  • Conduct A/B testing: Now that you’ve previewed the template, you can test everything—including your font size or color, image placement, copy, call to action, subject line, and anything else about your email to see what works best for mobile devices. Keep in mind that you’ll need to A/B test specific elements slowly over time—it’s hard to see what’s working if you test too many elements at once. Check out this post for specific email A/B testing examples, tips, and ideas.  

5. Did you just hit a wall? 🧱 

Writer’s block (or designer’s block) happens to the best of us. But, free tools like MailCharts are great for finding creative inspiration! The email examples in the MailCharts index include desktop, mobile, alt tag, and HTML versions for you to review and learn from. Since these are real emails, you can also see how top brands use colors, negative space, images, copy, CTAs, and buttons. 

Go beyond the desktop 

To be successful, marketers have to consider their sizable mobile audiences when designing emails. These optimization tactics focus on creating an enjoyable experience that results in better engagement and increased revenue. 

For more practical, actionable tips to achieve optimal email performance, join us for the next episode of Inbox Insiders. We’ll explain the ins and outs of email automation—and how to implement it for maximum revenue impact.