Email serves as an important tool to increase lead generation and nurture prospects through the funnel. But if you’re not optimizing for readers on mobile devices, you may be missing out. With mobile email opens consistently above 50%, it’s crucial for marketers and designers to master capturing the attention of their mobile readers.
Your messages won’t come across, or worse—you could lose subscribers and credibility. When you don’t optimize for mobile, BlueHornet found that 80% of receivers will delete it, and 30% will unsubscribe entirely. That’s a huge missed opportunity.
10 Things You Didn’t Know About Mobile: Webinar Recording
We teamed up with our friends at Hubspot for a 45-minute Google Hangout that covered everything you need to know about mobile email optimization.
1. OPTIMIZE THE MOBILE INBOX
The first step in getting any open, regardless of platform, takes place in the inbox. It’s important to optimize the inbox so your subscribers can tell what your email is about and why they should open it. Think of it as the email equivalent of optimizing meta information and headlines in Google search results.
- Your from name should be about 25 characters and be recognizable to your subscriber (such as your company name, or something like “Justine from Litmus.”)
- Your subject line should be about 35 characters and should reel your reader into the topic of the email. (Nothing vague or misleading—that’s illegal!)
- Your preview text should be about 85 characters and add a bit more color around what subscribers should expect when they open.
2. USE PREVIEW TEXT TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
One of the most underutilized and underestimated aspects of the mobile inbox is preview text. It has more characters available than your subject line and your from name combined and is a big part of what encourages an open.
That means scrutinizing your templates’ default text to eliminate text such as “If you have trouble displaying this email, view it as a web page” or other automated messages. These messages aren’t helpful or engaging, and they can detract from your overall email. Who wants to associate your brand with trouble?
Instead, use the preview text to add more detail, be quirky or on-brand, or tease a specific article within your email:
3. BANISH BLUE LINKS
We’ve all seen those pesky blue links where, in an effort to be helpful, iOS highlights certain information in bright blue, such as:
- Dates and times
- Phone numbers
- Basically, anything that could be useful in another app on your mobile device
This well-intentioned behavior from Apple can be helpful in personal or plain-text emails, but in branded emails it can hinder subscribers’ ability to click and make certain parts of your email less accessible (and not look as nice), so it’s an important design quirk to address.
4. PREVENT NAVIGATION WOES
Using a navigation bar in emails can make things really difficult for a mobile user. Because iOS automatically resizes fonts and text below 13px, it can cause the sidebar to be unreadable or the dropdown to be so long it could cause a mobile subscriber become frustrated from text that is too small and unreadable.
For mobile, you probably don’t need to use a navigation bar, since it can distract from your main message. Keeping your email simple and clean with one main CTA is your best bet to deliver your message to your subscribers.
5. BIGGER IS BETTER
For mobile email campaigns, bigger is definitely better. Whether it’s body copy, images, or CTAs, you want to make sure your mobile users can not only see your message, but they can take action on it, too.
If you’re interested in increasing your click through rates, try this simple exercise while previewing on mobile: take your thumb and see if you can click your CTA buttons and if there’s a thumb-sized amount of white space in between paragraphs.
I like big buttons and I cannot lie. -Justine Jordan
Additional “rules of thumb” (get it!) include:
- Body copy: 16px +
- Headlines: 22px +
- Buttons: 44px by 44px
- White space: 40px +
It’s important to remember that mobile users are tapping or touching, not clicking, and therefore need more space to do so. Streamlining your email by adding bigger text and more space will ultimately help your users take the action you’re suggesting. Related: stop saying “click here” for CTAs, as users may be tapping. Try active language on your CTAs instead.
6. UNDERSTAND MOBILE APPROACHES
There’s more than one way to help make your email mobile-friendly. We usually break those down into three categories:
- Mobile aware: This approach simply takes into account mobile users by streamlining the design and using larger text, buttons, and more white space so when the email is scaled down, it’s still readable.
- Traditional responsive: Similar to websites, this method uses CSS media queries to display different styles based on the screen size. However, it’s not supported everywhere.
- Hybrid, or spongy: Uses the concept of a fluid email by default to make sure it works in as many email clients as possible.
Understanding different mobile approaches is essential, especially when you run into trickier clients like Gmail, which doesn’t understand traditional mobile responsive methodology.
Introducing Litmus Community Templates
If this all seems like gobbledygook to you, we’ve made it easy. Use any number of our pre-tested responsive templates for free on your next email campaign.
7. EXPERIMENT WITH PLAIN TEXT
When you survey folks about what they prefer, they nearly always say images over text. However, for Hubspot, it’s plain text emails that perform nearly 25% better. It will depend on your industry and your audience, but it’s worth experimenting with.
— Litmus (@litmusapp) July 12, 2016
Sending only plain text emails leverages the 1:1 nature of email because it seems more personal rather than more “marketing-y.” For B2B, plain text can work well because the sale of the product is less emotionally driven. If you’re trying to sell a beach vacation, for example, it can be difficult to sell it without conjuring up the appropriate images of relaxation and the beach, so it may make more sense to use more images. It all depends on your audience!
8. ABOVE THE FOLD
It’s time to embrace the scroll. With mobile, we’ve become conditioned to scroll through endless social media feeds, thus eliminating the “fold.” It may not matter how long your emails are. Getting the click is more important.
Because you don’t have to cram everything important into the first frame of your email, experiment with call-to-actions in different locations of your template or email to see what works best for you.
9. USE A GIF TO PACK A PUNCH
GIFs and memes are a huge way we communicate on the Internet. Using animated GIFs is a great way to add some pop to your emails. But, consider your brand and whether or not a GIF is appropriate for your message and audience.
Always use a GIF with purpose and strategy:
- Entertaining: Using a GIF to excite and inspire, such as this great example from House of Cards’ campaign:
- Enticing: Teasing or showcasing a product or benefit, such as unwrapping a present.
- Explaining: Walking through something using a GIF show, rather than tell, to teach your subscriber about new features, products, or hacks, like this one we used for our recent Code Analysis launch:
With great power, however, comes great responsibility. Make the GIF the primary purpose or part of your call-to-action to make sure that it’s augmenting, rather than hindering, your message. Be careful, too—animated GIFs aren’t supported everywhere and can be heavy for your emails, so you can run into some problems.
10. ABOVE ALL, KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
With mobile, there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy. What works for you may not work for someone else. That’s why it’s important to know your specific subscriber audience. Are your subscribers opening on mobile, desktop, or webmail? Litmus’ Email Analytics can help you find out.
Try Litmus free!