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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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5 Characteristics of Mobile-Friendly Emails

If you haven’t heard the buzz in the email marketing world, we’ve finally reached the tipping point where more than 50% of all emails are now read on mobile devices. That’s right, according to Litmus, in November 2013, 51% of all emails were being opened on a mobile device – a 21% increase since January 2013. This is a direct result of more and more consumers opting for smart phone devices and these numbers are expected to rise in the coming year, making mobile-friendly emails a must for marketers. How do you ensure your emails are mobile-friendly?

Why are mobile-friendly emails important for marketers?
You might have heard about mobile-friendly emails… but do you really understand how to put it into practice? Basically, mobile-friendly emails are built in a way that allows the email to be easily viewed on a mobile device. Traditional desktop email layouts, which often times feature large images and multiple columns, render terribly on a mobile device.  If you are part of the 51% of smart phone adopters that are viewing emails on your mobile device, then you have probably been a victim to a non-mobile-friendly email. For recipients of this type of email, it can be frustrating and result in low engagement, in turn creating low campaign response rates and ROI.

As a general rule of thumb, mobile emails must be aesthetically pleasing to the eye, work properly, and perform correctly or a mobile user will just unsubscribe. In today’s marketing era, you have to create your emails with the mobile user in mind. Here are five characteristics of mobile-friendly emails:

Mobile Characteristic #1:
The easiest and probably most effective way to make your emails render correctly on a mobile device is by creating them in a one-column layout. Emails with a multi-column layout are very difficult to navigate on a mobile device and, in some cases, the mobile device will actually strip the email so it only displays the first column. A single-column layout is the best way to go; it is easy to read and scroll through with your finger on a smart phone.

Mobile Characteristic #2:
Keep your content short, sweet, and to the point. This honestly is a good tip for any email marketing, but specifically on mobile, because these recipients don’t want to scroll through a long message just to get to the point. Real estate within in a mobile window is very finite, so a clear, simple message is the best for mobile emails.

Mobile Characteristic #3:
One of my favorite tips is to use a good mix of content and images. We’ve all been there where the email we just received is all white space that says download images. A typical consumer will simply delete the email message versus downloading the images either because they don’t really care about the email or they don’t trust the sender. If you use a mix of content and images, the recipient can at least see what the email is about before deciding what action to take or download the images.

Mobile Characteristic #4:
One thing marketers typically forget to incorporate into their mobile email are large, call to action buttons. These are really, really important when creating mobile emails because they are easier to click on than a link. When creating a mobile email you want to think about tappable buttons not clickable. By utilizing these types of buttons, you’ll increase engagement with your emails.

Mobile Characteristic #5:
Another thing to keep in mind when creating mobile-friendly emails is understanding how the email from and subject line will appear in consumer email applications. Remember, this is the email’s first impression to get the recipient to open your email. If the subject line isn’t eye catching or the sender info isn’t recognizable, chances are your email won’t get opened. So, be sure to use your company name is in the from line and trim subject lines down to under 40 characters or front load your subject lines.

Lastly, once you have fully optimized your email and made it mobile friendly, you’ll want to test, test, test. You can use platforms like Litmus and render your email on multiple devices at once, or you can do it the old fashion way by simply sending your email to the most utilized mobile devices (iPhone, Android, Windows, etc).  

In summary, when creating mobile-friendly emails, you really need to think about the user experience. You have to adjust the way you think about email layout, design, and content. You have to create your emails to be finger friendly and get out of the mindset of the point and click mouse… fingers are the new mouse.

Grant Gooley
Open rates will only be somewhat adequate with a mobile friendly email. MailChimp does a great job putting together a platform that allows for strong mobile friendly emails. Mobile, Mobile, Mobile!!! Soon that will be 80% of our concentration, I'm sure of it! Great post.
Kristen Williams
Thanks so much.... agreed! Well need to become smarter and adapt faster to the forever changing mobile environment.
Stephanie Young
It seems like I am always working on a "For Mobile" project, converting previously existing formats into mobile friendly. I think my boss wonders why I am on my phone all the time...and I am starting to wonder if I can take off my phone on my taxes as a business expense. (smile) Thanks for the post. I now have email for mobile on my to do list.
Robert Karbaum
I need to stress: TESTING. Testing, testing, testing. I like to use the million dollar approach; would you bet a million dollars that it is going to work as expected. If you can't risk the million, do more testing until you can.

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