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10 Tips for Designing a Successful Mobile Email

Megan Rust

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Email is no longer only for desktop viewers. According to a recent study by Return Path, 16 percent of email messages are now viewed on a mobile device. Forrester predicts an explosion in smartphone adoption in 2011 saying, “Thanks to handset subsidies, smartphones will be available to the masses.” And comScore reports “adoption of mobile email has reached 78 percent of the smartphone population.”

With this rapid adoption of smartphones and mobile devices, the share of emails viewed on a mobile device is expected to surpass desktops by 2014. Considering increased numbers like this, email campaigns must adapt.

Not all emails are created equal. Some marketers may not realize the special considerations that must be taken into account for viewing emails via mobile device. Below are 10 things to keep in mind when designing your next mobile email:

1. Beware of text resizing

Certain mobile email clients will automatically adjust the size of fonts within your email to be either larger or smaller than what you originally designed for.

2. Mobile emails are scaled

Mobile devices have a screen size that is anywhere from 320-500 pixels. Keep the email width at 600 pixels and smaller to ensure that your design will render well once it is scaled down. This width is also ideal for desktop emails and preview panes.

3. Single column layouts are best

Readability is important. In order to prevent rendering issues, keep the layout as simple as possible and easy to scroll through on a phone.

4. Design for the fingertip

Keep in mind that no matter how obvious your call to action may be, it has to be big enough to be easily clicked by a thumb or fingertip. Make callouts clear, concise and obvious. Use thumb-sized buttons for callouts as well as text links to improve click-thru rates.

5. Think top-down

Put all the important information at the top, and remove low-priority content. As with any email, keep your message focused using concise content and a clear call to action.

6. Don’t forget alt tags

Images are often blocked on mobile devices just as they are in desktop and Web clients. Remember to put alt tags on all images as a description for those who aren’t viewing them.

7. Subscriber experience is the key

How are people viewing your emails now? Use campaign analytics and other data to determine the needs of your audience and how best to communicate with them. Surveys and preference centers can also help you determine if you have a mobile audience.

8. Make the most of the subject line

Outlook, Gmail, iPhone, and WinMo pull in the first lines of text within the email as an AutoPreview that can be up to 90 characters long. You can use this to get the most bang out of your subject line and reinforce your call to action.

9. Test

Not sure if your emails are rendering across all devices? Use an emulator report such as EmailOnAcid to see how your email is showing up across Web, mobile and desktop clients.

10. Consider making your mobile email your only email

Instead of designing a completely separate landing page for mobile viewers, it may be worth it to take out that extra click and design the email so it will render across all devices upon opening.

As with any digital effort, understanding your specific audience and their preferences is essential. By carefully monitoring your campaigns and understanding how your customers are interacting with your emails, you can adjust your design standards as appropriate. At Intouch, we tailor campaigns to fit each customer and their specific audiences, and can help you design an email campaign that drives engagement, provides value, and reaches your customers wherever they are.


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