Here is a statistic that every business and marketer needs to know at this very minute: more than half of all emails are opened on a mobile device. That’s right. That email you sent this morning was likely opened and read on a Samsung Galaxy, iPhone or tablet, and not on a desktop.
Responsive web design has become imperative for ecommerce websites and startups. However, there is one other trend that has dominated the Internet landscape: responsive email design (RED).
Since search engine juggernaut Google announced last year that it is requiring all websites to become more mobile-friendly – or else their placements on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) would be lowered – a substantial amount of web portals have gone mobile. Whether it’s their websites, email marketing campaigns or newsletters, everything is now a mobile-first mindset.
If you’re considering avoiding mobile devices altogether then be aware that mobile users are an unforgiving log. Many of them will unsubscribe from your email list if they can’t read your messages on their phones. They’ll also shun your brand if they can’t view your unoptimized content on their mobile devices. If you’re a startup then you understand how important it is.
To garner a grasp of how ubiquitous smartphones are for emails, here are a few numbers to peruse over:
- 74% of smartphone users utilize their devices to check their emails.
- 70% of smartphone users delete emails that can’t be read on mobile devices.
- 95% of emails are opened only on one device, whether it’s a smartphone or desktop.
Indeed, these are very important statistics to fathom. Moreover, one-third of marketers have no strategy for mobile emails, while one-quarter of businesses aren’t optimizing emails for phones.
What does this mean? It’s an opportunity to start making your emails mobile-friendly! Unsure where to begin? Here are five things to take into account when you’re embracing RED:
- Design Your Emails for Fingers
- Remain Narrow & Drink Java
- Content is King – Even on Your Phone
- What is Your Mobile Call-to-Action (CTA)?
- ABT: Always Be Testing
Design Your Emails for Fingers
What year are we in, 2004? Nobody uses a stylus – a small pen-shaped instrument – for their smartphones anymore. It’s all about the fingers. All of our mobile screens have been designed by Samsung, Apple and even some BlackBerry products for our fingers. This means that all of your emails should be optimized for your recipients’ fingers as opposed to keyboards or styluses.
Moving forward, your emails should follow Apple’s minimum target size of 44 pixels wide and 44 pixels tall. Remember, our fingers are less accurate than a cursor or a keyboard, so you’ll need to design emails that take this into account.
To avoid headaches, here are a few finger-friendly tips:
- Use your product images as links in your emails.
- Focus on the vertical spacing (we don’t browse the Internet horizontally on phones).
- Take advantage of the footer to ensure the text is very easy to read.
- Ensure that your content is light, clean, concise and crisp.
Although everyone talks about being mobile-friendly, they should really be talking about being finger-friendly.
Remain Narrow & Drink Java
As you’re designing your mobile emails, you have to keep in mind to keep it narrow. What this means is that you need to limit your emails to a single column layout that isn’t bigger than 500 pixels in width. By using this figure, you’re avoiding serious problems than if you had used 750.
If you have a couple of images loading in your emails then you’re better off using CSS or Java. You may try to be clever by inserting “display:none” in your coding, but this instead informs the device to download the image instead of displaying it, which can hurt the bandwidth.
One last thing: do not use animated GIFs for your mobile emails; stick to static versions.
Content is King – Even on Your Phone
The Internet’s favorite adage is “content is king.” It’s a phrase that may be overused by marketers everywhere, but it’s an important one. And, yes, even for smartphones. The content you’re sending through emails have their own guidelines to ensure it’s read by the recipients.
Want to have your best content optimized for mobile devices? Here are a few tips:
- Lead off your emails with the very important stuff first so the readers can digest the main message before they scroll through the rest of the email or click the links.
- Use text-based messaging rather than images for your primary hook for customers.
- Make your pre-header and footer content clandestine to ensure it doesn’t kill your most important content.
- Get rid of the link that says “mobile friendly version” since you’re already responsive.
- Limit the subject lines to a maximum of 30 characters.
The mobile world is very different from the desktop or laptop world. Be sure you adapt.
What is Your Mobile Call-to-Action (CTA)?
Mobile users are on the go and want you to get right to the point. What do you want? This is where your call-to-action (CTA) comes into play. The CTA will inform the reader what you actually want to achieve with this email, which is why the CTA plays a crucial role.
Again, the mobile CTA is a little bit different than a desktop CTA since you’re dealing with limited space, and limited attention spans. Also, be sure to remember that your CTAs need to be a minimum of 44 x 44 pixels (see above).
With that being said, here are several tips to take into consideration for your mobile CTA:
- Be happy that you have plenty of white space because links and text crammed too close together is hard to comprehend and horrible to look at.
- Make your CTA button bigger, but not too large of course.
- Your links should really look like links as opposed to just standard text.
- The placement of your CTA is key; it should be above fold with minimal finger action.
- Mobile email links should actually land readers to other mobile-friendly pages.
Perhaps one of the best tips in this area is to auto-apply discount codes for email referrals. Since the reader is using a mobile device, it’s more difficult to copy between tabs and apps
ABT: Always Be Testing
Always be testing. Test everything all the time. Test, test, this is a test. You understand where we’re going with this. Since smartphones are changing all the time and operating systems are constantly being updated, you have to ensure that your emails are optimized for a wide variety of smartphones and other mobile devices. Remember, even the best coders in the world can hit a roadblock a couple of times and experience some obstacles. Simply put: test on a regular basis.
We’ve gone mobile. That’s the most succinct way to explain our online behaviors today.
Since mobile is gradually taking over Internet traffic, brands and marketers need to adapt their marketing campaigns to this trend. Whether it’s email marketing, social media or video advertisements, mobile needs to be taken into account and be perfected without hiccups.
You and your team will need to adopt a responsive email design (RED) campaign soon.
Start to see RED!