October 1, 2014 | John Goethert

5 Mistakes You're Making in Your Email Design for Mobile

Email Design for Mobile

Today, it's difficult to find a person who doesn't have a smartphone. According to Information Week Magazine, manufacturers shipped a whopping 1.004 billion smartphones in 2013! And with all those folks out there spending every waking minute on their smartphones, tailoring your content to mobile is essential.

Because so many people check email on their phones, email marketing service MailChimp decided to survey people about their email habits. They found that over three quarters checked their mail “everywhere” or “obsessively.” Furthermore, 72% said checking email was the first thing they did in the morning and the last thing at night.

With this new-found ease of viewing email, early morning and late night have become "presorting" times used to weed through the junk, when people cull their inboxes down to the 20-25 emails that are worthy of reading when time allows.

Best practices like having an eye-catching, compelling subject line still hold true. But once you get people to open your email, it's important that what they actually see on mobile devices is appealing as well.

Top 5 Issues with Email Design for Mobile Viewers

1. Image Load Times

Mobile Email No Images“Obsessive” email checking means people will read emails wherever they are, including many places without Wi-Fi or 3G, making images slow or impossible to load.

You should be concerned about slow load times because, well, it costs you money.

This is so common that many people have their mail clients set to not load email images. Your fancy image-heavy email will not get the expected excitement from your readers if all they see is blank boxes.

One way of smoothing this over is by using image alt tags that describe what's missing. This text will help readers know that the blank area they are seeing is actually a clickable button, for example.

2. Image Sizes on Mobile Screens

Even if people have their mail clients set to view images, it may be nearly impossible for them to read tiny jaggy text within images at smartphone screen sizes. It's best to stick with simple imagery, and avoid text in your images.

Mobile Email with CTA3. Make It Bigger!

Speaking of size, don’t scrimp on the size of the CTA (call to action) button in your email.

Making the target easier to hit minimizes the chances of the reader missing it, either by not recognizing that it is a CTA or by physically missing it with their fat fingers (okay, so it may not be that their fingers are too fat).

4. Avoid In-Text Links

While having a large CTA button is ideal, including links in the text can be problematic.

Because of their size, links will be difficult to hit on small screens, and people who try to zoom in by double-clicking or pinching might accidentally click one of these microscopic links unintentionally before they get to read your email.

If you need to include an in-text link, making it bold or even using a good old-fashioned underline will make it stand out a lot more.

5. Stick to One Column

Mobile Email Two Column LayoutAnother recent email marketing trend involves email templates with two thin columns, especially for text-heavy emails like newsletters. But when people view the email on their tiny mobile screens, they WILL have to zoom in order to read the text.

Instead, using a screen-width text column means they will only have to scroll down rather than side-to-side as well. Limiting yourself to one column helps minimize frustration and keep your readers engaged.

These suggestions are simply starting points for your upcoming mobile email campaign. Try some, or try all. Send test emails and check them on your phone before you hit the send button to your final list. And don’t forget to let us know what worked for you in your mobile email campaigns!

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John Goethert

John Goethert

John Goethert served as VIEO’s senior inbound marketing project manager for many years and enjoyed using his varied expertise on behalf of our clients.

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