Email readership on mobile devices is growing so fast that soon it will be the predominant platform for email consumption, and mobile email consumption may overtake all other platforms even sooner. We are way beyond just ‘planning for mobile’ – it is now imperative to design your campaigns and landing pages to be easy to view and work well on a mobile device.
Return Path’s Tom Sather, senior director of email research, says:
“Looking at the trend lines of our clients, we’ll probably see mobile overtaking web-mail and desktop by the end June as the preferred platform, but definitely by the end of the year.” As a result, Sather said: “Marketers need to wake up and think about their mobile strategy. More than half of all marketers have no idea if people are reading their email on mobile devices.”
He goes on to say “A lot of people talk about optimizing email for mobile devices, which is kind of a no-brainer, but a lot of people don’t think beyond the email. If they do click on a link and they come to a landing page, is that optimised for mobile as well? Studies have shown that less than 2 percent of people will revisit an email on their desktop or laptop, so you really only have one chance to make a good first impression.”
However, Sather cautions against discounting other platforms. “But just because mobile is the rage, don’t forget about desktop email clients such as Outlook, as well as web mail,” he said.
We agree Tom. To back that up, here is our list of the most important mobile email design considerations and best practices:
Make sure you optimise your emails and landing pages for mobile. Email open rates have increased since last year and last quarter, but click-through rates have declined. This is most likely because they are abandoned after consumers open them on mobile devices and the messages are not optimised. With mobile you only have 1 chance to get the recipient to read your email and to click through to landing pages. If you are directing people to your website or landing page and it doesn’t look good or load or operate well on mobile, people will leave – and find another site that does work.
Think about where, when and how people read emails on mobile. In a recent survey, it was discovered 70% of users read emails in bed before going to sleep or first thing before waking up. So be mindful of this in terms of your design, and don’t use bright images which might be hard on the eyes for those reading your emails in the dark or as they are just waking up.
Reduce the template width to fit a smaller screen. We recommend you set the width of your email template to 640 pixels or less. Smartphones have screens between 320 and 480 pixels wide, so if your email is 640 pixels wide it is both suitable for desktop viewing, and is suitable for viewing on smartphones too.
From name and subject line become even more important for mobile. We know the from name is important already – but it becomes even more so due to the fact that the very first thing you see on your mobile, is your from name. So this to me becomes the most important facet of the mobile email. This is closely followed by your subject line. Make sure your subject line is punchy, strong, and we recommend no longer than 35 characters. This is how many characters you see.
Space is at a premium so make it simple and save on real estate. Use one-line pre-header text. Pre-headers are usually 1-2 lines of HTML text at the very top of the email. They are ideal for hand held devices to highlight an enticing offer, making it the first thing prospects read before they even consider downloading images. Keep key content above the fold. (This will be the top 200 to 250 pixels). This area is prime real estate for the 3 to 5 seconds a prospect is focused on your email message, so it needs to have useful, readable text, or a very clear image. Be mindful to incorporate branding and offer-driven text above the fold.
It doesn’t have to be brevity central… if it’s good enough, it will be saved for later. On a mobile you obviously have less space so eliminate unnecessary content and put the focus on the key parts of the message. However don’t strip everything out – creating mobile friendly emails is a balancing act, where your shorter message should be comfortably able to be viewed, read and actioned on a small screen. Longer messages can always be saved for when subscribers get home and can read them in full on a larger screen. Mobile users will delete any long emails that are ineffective, but they will save your email for later if it’s well designed with great content.
Bigger, Bolder call to actions – think of the thumbs! It is crucial you increase the size and padding of text links and call-to-action buttons throughout your emails. A typical adult finger covers 45 pixels, and it is no accident Apple makes all their app icons 44 x 44 pixels! Make sure your calls-to-action are padded by at least 10 to 15 pixels to avoid frustrating and accidental finger tapping errors.
Because it’s on a smaller screen, you can use larger fonts. This is where we do recommend you use a slightly larger font to keep things easy to read. However still stay with web safe fonts, and use a font size of 12-14 point for body copy and headlines at 20-22 point. Keep in mind that the larger font means you’ll have even less space, so keep your content brief.
There is obviously a plethora of mobile infographics, links, resources, tips and advice everywhere you look however this is really intended as our list of vital mobile email design considerations that we really want you all to know….