It’s now a trend: Smartphones have outsold computers in each of the last two years. This means people are beginning to depend more heavily on their smartphones than their PCs. And according HubSpot’s Slideshare presentation on The Science of Email Marketing, 80.8% of readers view their emails on mobile devices – be it phones or tablets. In June of 2012, a Medscape study found a 53% higher click-through rate for mobile-optimized newsletters, and these numbers are growing year by year.
So what’s the key to effectively optimize your mobile emails?
Keep. It. Simple.
From the message to the layout, simplicity and conciseness are your best friends. IBM found mobile users are concerned with what’s new, what can be deleted immediately, and what can be handled immediately. So, a strong, simple message combined with great accessibility will be a knock-out. The following tips use some of the same basic practices of email marketing, but with a few tweaks.
1) Create an Amazing Subject Line
Your readers get a bunch of mail. I’ve found that emails with subject lines indicating what the reader will get out of the email are more likely to be opened, read, and clicked-through. People have great BS detectors, and sales-y jargon words like “free,” “act now,” and “limited time,” are dangerous territory. Social Media Scientist Dan Zarella suggests to phrase your subject in a way that the reader wants to see it. Combined with appropriate segmentation and brand consistency, you can build yourself an irresistible subject line.
2) Get to the Point
In addition to the subject line, many email clients, like the iPhone’s mail app, show the first 90 characters of the email as preview text. Make this text pop. It should either convince your reader to open the email then and there, or if it’s a reminder email, it should tell them exactly what they need to know. Once you have your content, look at what can be cut. Without compromising your branding and tone, lose any copy that isn’t immediately relevant.
3) Build a Simple Layout
Make your layout as concise as the text. I use HubSpot as my ESP. If you do too, then you already have a bunch of awesome layouts at your fingertips. Although our templates are optimized for the best performance, you can always build your own. Links should be made clear with underlining or color differentiation, and if you must write a longer email, keep each section clearly separated to help your layout remain clean. Most websites are formatted in a two or three column layout, but keep your emails to just one. Your design should be no larger than 550px to ensure the email is legible to anyone with a small screen.
4) Increase the Font Size, but Leave Some Room for the Buttons
We’ve been spoiled by how easy it is to click tiny links with a mouse. Now we’re left with clumsy fingers on a large screen. To account for this, increase your font size, then leave plenty of space for your call-to-action. iOS automatically scales all text to 13px, so use that as a guide. In addition to the font being bigger, make your buttons easy to press. A sure-fire way to make this happen is to have a clear and concise call-to-action.
5) Master the Design of Your Call-To-Action
Make them big and make them beautiful. Your call-to-action is the most important part of your email. The buttons on Apple’s products are no smaller 44x44px. Since Apple really knows what they’re doing, make your buttons at least that size as well. Also, much like web page design, keep your call-to-action above the fold.
6) Strategic Placement is Your Friend
Picture this: you’re holding your phone and the call-to-action is in the bottom corner of the screen. Ugh. Make it easy to get to; the center of the screen is a safe bet. This way, when scrolling through the email, it ends up being smack in the middle.
7) Relevant and Striking Images
If there was ever a time to use an image to make a point, it’s now. Tie your image in with your header to build a strong relationship in the email. And yes, it is possible to have gorgeous images in your emails. I’ve found that most readers prefer for emails to contain more images than text. If your reader has ten seconds to look at the email, you want them to see the header, the image and the call-to-action. If they’ve gotten the point in those ten seconds, then you’ve done an amazing job! Use images that are easy to see and understand in case the reader hasn’t put on their glasses yet.
8) Send Your Emails Early
The time of day matters. A lot. More than 50% of “mobile workers” read their emails between the time they get out of bed and the time they are dressed. So unless it’s Saturday and they’ve no reason to change out of their robe, that’s not much time.
There’s been about an 8% increase in click-through rates for emails sent around 6AM vs those sent later in the day. Test which days result in the most opens and click-throughs for your emails as well. When you combine both pieces of information, you’ll have a matrix of the best (and worst) times to send out your emails.
9) Make Your Landing Pages Mobile Friendly
Now you’ve gone through all this hard work, and your emails look incredible on mobile devices. A reader clicks on your call-to-action only to find a mess of a landing page.
Your reader closes the window, eats breakfast and forgets you exist. What a shame! It’s so important to have landing pages optimized for mobile devices.
To prevent this scenario, keep your landing pages clear of all clutter. Follow HubSpot’s guide to Optimizing Landing Pages for Lead Generation & Conversion to be sure this doesn’t happen.
What are some other mobile email design tips you’ve found effective? Share your experience in the comments.