Emma presents The Brainiac Guide to Mobile Email

1 Understand the mobile landscape. toggle

Think your subscribers open your emails on their desktop computers? Think again. 43% of all email gets opened on mobile devices these days [1]—more than desktop or webmail opens. And email is the top reported activity on smart phones, beating out even the act of making phone calls. [2] Modern marketers send emails with the mobile reader in mind, and responsive templates with built-in mobile smarts make it easier.

Smart phone users check email on their device more than any other activity, including making actual phone calls.

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"Mobile-optimized" means design choices have been made for easier viewing on small screens. "Responsive" means special code called media queries have been added to show, hide or move content automatically depending on screen size and resolution. Emma's templates are responsive to ensure your emails look great, regardless of screen size.
  1. [1] litmus.com
  2. [2] Adobe 2013 Digital Publishing Report: Retail Apps & Buying Habits

2 Design for the smallest screen first. toggle

Any design choice you make in the interest of engaging a mobile reader will look great on a large screen, too. The mobile experience is all about letting your content shine, so adjust the header height to 50-100 pixels, and make text and image decisions that enhance the experience for your mobile audience. Don't forget to give your content breathing room. Extra line breaks, dividers and alternating background colors distinguish messages in your email no matter where it's viewed.

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If you can only make one design change in the interest of your mobile readers, send your email on a slimmer template — 320 to 500 pixels — and know you'll look great on any device. It's the little black dress of email marketing.

3 Plan for responsive design. toggle

In the mobile inbox, the order of your email's content is just as important as what you're saying. With a responsive email template, the thinking is baked in for you, but you should be aware of the logic and map your content so the hierarchy makes sense even if it's reorganized for a smaller screen.

Responsive templates in Emma are designed to reorganize your content into a single column. Images arranged horizontally within a column will stack vertically and center align, and layouts with multiple columns will stack left to right. If you've included an important headline or call to action in your trusty right sidebar, it won't get the spotlight on a mobile device, so consider moving it to the left.

Drag the handle to see the the email at different screen sizes

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The topmost content of any email is your subject line, so create a compelling one that's also short – only the first 20-30 characters display in a mobile inbox.

4 Finish the thought in the inbox. toggle

Traditionally, email marketing is about driving your audience to another web property — like your website, blog, or online shop — to engage with your content and maybe even buy your product. But in the world of mobile, slow load times, short attention spans [3] and landing pages not optimized for small screens are all at play. So while click-throughs are still an opportunity to engage readers further, they put you more at risk of losing them entirely.

That's why it's smart to provide value right inside your email rather than simply entice readers to click through for some kind of pay-off: Share deal details in the email promo, and include more images and copy in your newsletter if it helps support your story. It may seem counter-intuitive, but not all mobile users are on-the-go. In fact, mobile usage peaks during breakfast and commutes to and from work [4], and more than 39% of us use our smart phones while we're unwinding in front of the TV [5].

Scroll for more content

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Size headlines to at least 22 pt so it's easy to scroll to the next section or article, and consider adding anchors so readers can just jump to the section they're most interested in.

5 Encourage mobile-optimized next steps. toggle

Email often drives your subscribers to do something else: make a purchase, visit a website or watch a video. Make sure the place you're driving them to is also mobile-friendly. If you aren't linking to sites automatically optimized for mobile, like Shopify, Wistia or Formstack, at least make sure you're sending readers to a page that's easy to navigate on a small screen.

The mobile environment has its own unique interaction with native phone, mail, maps and calendar apps, so take advantage of them in your email campaigns: Include a phone number for one-click calling, and format street addresses and dates so when clicked, they launch driving directions or a new appointment. These actions are optimized for mobile already, so they're a no-brainer.

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You can upload audio files, images, pdfs and calendar items to your Emma document library and create download links in your email campaigns. These files open smoothly on mobile devices, and best of all, you can track the clicks in your account.