How To Create Mobile Email That’s Friendly

Avatar Act-On
Email Marketing

The reports of email’s death have been greatly exaggerated.* In reality, email remains the most potent tool in the marketer’s arsenal:

  •  The DMA puts email marketing’s ROI for 2011 at $40.56 for every $1 invested. The figure for 2012 was predicted to “fall” to $39.40.
  • A 2012 survey of consumer channel habits and preferences found 77% preferred to receive permission-based promotions via email; only 6% preferred such messages via social media A similar survey of UK consumers found 69% with a preference for email as the channel for brand communications.

But one truly important thing has changed about email: How people read it. As of January 2013, mobile now accounts for 42% of email opens – that’s about 45% growth in one short year.

Mobile email stats 2013

In “Mobile-Friendly Email, Trends and Best Practices” Justine Jordan, marketing director at Litmus and Janelle Johnson, director of demand gen for Act-On, deliver an information-packed webinar that tells you what you need to know about making email more mobile-friendly. This webinar covers the basics of email: segmenting your clean and fresh list, subject lines, calls to action and landing pages, and testing and refining, and then jumps right into the burning-hot issue of mobile email. A few tidbits:

  •  Know your audience. 31% of marketers don’t know their mobile email open rate! You need to know this, as if your mobile emails aren’t being opened, it’s a clear sign that you need to make your emails more mobile friendly.
  •  Of the opens on mobile OS, the iPhone gets 56%, the iPad 27%, and Android 16%. Take this with a grain of salt; opens are measured by triggered images and Android blocks images by default, so the data isn’t bullet-proof.
  • Worldwide, Androids are more popular; in the US, it’s iPhones.

Best practices for mobile aren’t that much different than desktop email. People still read email in stages, making a decision at each stage whether to continue or not.

Stages of email readership

The so-called “envelope information” is critical. The “From” name matters, and the subject line is always important. The preheader is the short summary text that follows the subject line when an email is viewed in the inbox. This is really valuable real estate; don’t spend it solely on “Trouble viewing this email”?

Mobile email envelop information

In the example below, MarketingProfs has used the preheader to convey the call to action: “Upgrade to Pro and save $79 with code October.” If you do retain “Trouble viewing this email”, don’t lead with it; “trouble” is not the first thing you want the reader to associate with your email.

MazrketingProfs preheader example

Androids and iPhone present previews differently. iPhones scale automatically; Androids don’t. And people tend to scroll up and down, not left to right. This means (among other things) that left-loading your key messages is helpful for Android displays.

mobile scalability 500

Pay attention to font sizes. Recommended minimums are:

  • Body copy: 14px
  • Headlines: 22px

Anything under 13 px is hard to read and hard to tap. For the benefit of the user,  iOS automatically resizes copy that’s under 13px. In the example below, the type in the red box was automatically resized, resulting in undesirable word breaks.

mobile font size expedia 500

There’s much, much more in the webinar, including information about landing pages, the importance of context, mobile-friendly coupons, designing for tappable touch targets as opposed to links, how to find OS guidelines for designing emails to display well, designing for image blocking, and a discussion of responsive design.

If you’re concerned about making your emails more effective on mobile devices (and you should be), we highly recommend this power-packed webinar: “Mobile-Friendly Email, Trends and Best Practices”.

*(Apologies to Mark Twain)