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3 Ways to Optimize Your Emails for Mobile

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We’ve all been there: you’re checking your email on the go, and open one from a brand you like. Except you have to scroll all the way to the right to read the entirety of the email. Delete.

Why is it such a big deal? The number of people who access their emails on mobile has risen more than 500% since 2011, and mobile is now the number one way people interact with emails—up to 70% of people use their mobile devices to read emails. Which is probably why 76% of marketers say mobile opt-ins are their most effective email campaigns.

The good news, we’ve learned a lot about mobile email use. But here’s the bad news: a lot of marketers aren’t paying attention to it—31% admit to not knowing their mobile open rate, when it should be a top priority. Only about 12% of marketers are optimizing their e-newsletters from mobile, 24% aren’t optimizing their creative for mobile, and 39% have no mobile strategy whatsoever—meaning 75% of their subscribers are likely to delete their emails, and 30% will unsubscribe.


In short, mobile isn’t the future—it’s the present. Still need to get on the mobile bandwagon? Here are three simple ways to optimize your emails for mobile, without having to overhaul your entire campaign strategy:

Think bigger. It’s ironic, but true: the smaller the device, the bigger you should go. Thumbs have trouble honing in on that small link, so use buttons instead. For important CTAs, go wide with the button to accommodate both left- and right-handed consumers. Even subscribers with perfect eyesight will find themselves squinting to read your message unless you use a larger font size and employ hi-res images. MailChimp recommends using 16px. font for mobile devices, whereas desktops do fine with 14px.

Implement device detection. Responsive design—which automatically adjusts content for screen size—is just the beginning of how emails can be optimized for mobile. Go beyond responsive design and use device detection to offer up the appropriate app download file for whatever device your subscriber is using. One-click actions on mobile increase the chances subscribers will follow through. American Eagle saw a 231% lift in clicks to their app download when they started using device detection.

dd2device detection

Hem your subject line (and everything else, for that matter). Different email providers accommodate different lengths for mobile subject lines; Gmail cuts it off at about 74 characters, but Outlook ends it at a measly 42-ish. Any marketer’s best bet is to keep the mobile subject line between a short and sweet 20 to 30 characters. While that’s not very much, you can make up for the lack of real estate by capitalizing on the pre-header, that short line of copy that summarizes what the email covers, and the first thing a subscriber sees after the subject line. Preheaders have a character limit for native email apps, too, capped at 40 for Android, 50 for iOS Gmail and 90 for iOS native—so again, your best bet is to limit the number of characters to the least generous character count.

Screen space is limited on mobile devices, too, so don’t overpopulate your emails. When it comes to images, keep in mind that, unlike Apple devices, Android devices don’t always automatically display images—so use them wisely.

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