The Ultimate guide to mobile email design

May 16
9 min read
Mobile devices have become an integral part of our daily lives, and people often use them to browse and read their personal and sometimes professional emails while waiting in a queue, watching their child's ballet class, or even during a moment alone in the bathroom. By optimizing your emails for mobile devices, you can increase the chances that they will be seen and read in all of these situations.
Photo of a woman in a city looking at her cellphone - Photo by Ono Kosuki - Pexels

Statistics on mobile email usage may vary, but generally, mobile devices account for 26% to 78% of email opens. Many professionals mention figures of at least 60% or even 80%! Therefore, when creating your email, you can no longer ignore the mobile version.

A friendly mobile email design provides an excellent user experience and encourages people to check more emails on the go. Many people use mobile dark mode because it is easy on the eyes, extends battery life, and reduces sleep interruptions. However, designing for mobile dark mode also presents some challenges.

This guide will show you how to create the best mobile email design to deliver an excellent experience for your users.

What is a mobile friendly email design

Mobile phones are not like desktops. They have smaller screens that are narrow, which means there’s less space for content, interaction, and navigation. For users to enjoy reading emails on their cell phones, you’ll need to optimize the layout of your content to fit a mobile screen size and resolution.

A responsive design technique will make your content adjust to the screen width of a mobile phone. Readers will not have to zoom in and out to view features of your content, and they’ll have an easy time navigating through it.

How to make your emails mobile friendly

With mobile email, users don’t have to be stationed near a desktop to log on to their emails. As long as they have a mobile phone, they can send, receive, and compose emails anytime, anywhere.

But if your emails aren’t mobile-friendly, you might be missing out on engaging with your audience and getting the results you desire. So how can you make your emails mobile-friendly? Consider the following.

Optimize your content for mobile

Creating content that’s mobile-friendly means it should display everything properly on a smaller screen. When a user opens an email on their mobile phones, they should have a better or similar experience as on a tablet or desktop.

Users reading your content on a desktop computer should be able to continue seamlessly on their mobile phones. Make sure your content follows these tips.

Keep the subject line short

A short subject line ensures all characters are displayed on a mobile device, and your audience can read what the email is about.

When your email appears in a person’s inbox, sometimes, they only read the subject line and decide whether they’ll open it or not.

That means to get a higher email open rate and reach more readers; you need to ensure your email text is optimized for mobile. Keep the subject line below 30 characters so your audience can read and open your emails.

Use pre-header text

A pre-header text gives a bit more information than the subject line. Just like a subject line, a pre-header aims to increase the open rate of your emails. 22% of people say the pre-header is what motivates them to click and open their emails.

On mobile: pre-header are much more important since they appear just below the object instead of after.

Marketers also optimize their emails for mobile using pre-headers. The text can include a short email summary or a CTA (Call to Action) button, but all this information should not be more than 50 characters.

Keeping the pre-header text short ensures all characters are visible across all mobile devices, and users can read and understand your message.

Keep content short and scannable

Most mobile users read content on the go, and that means they can easily get distracted. Keep your content short and scannable so you can capture the attention of your audience and make them take action.

Your mobile content should have short paragraphs, bullet points, subheaders, and plenty of white space. Images can also help break up text after about 300 words and eliminate monotonous text. You should vary your content. For example, you can use videos, clickable slide shares, or infographics.

Speed of mobile devices

Mobile devices tend to have weaker connectivity, which affects speed. If you are using mobile email to reach your audience, you need to use smaller images that load faster.

Larger emails take a longer time to load, and mobile users will not have the patience to wait. If your emails load slowly, users will likely close them and open the next mail in their inbox.

Speed impacts the user experience. That means a fast-loading email provides a good experience and encourages people to look forward to your content.

Use a mobile email template

An email template defines the structure of your email campaigns. It’s reusable and allows you to add images and links. You can also use a template to style your emails in a way that reflects your company's brand or personal style. When using an email template, you have to make sure the viewability is right.

Readers should be able to see the entire message. That’s why you should use a single-column layout instead of a two-column layout. A single-column layout places your images and information in a hierarchy and allows users to focus on your message.

A single layout also positions your message at the center of a mobile device. Make sure important information is on the left side, where it is more visible, and the image width should not be more than 640 px.

Use a responsive and usable design

A responsive design involves content that’s easy to read because it automatically resizes and adapts to a user’s screen size. The layout should be functional and display easy-to-read content regardless of a user’s screen size. You can check those professional templates here.

It’s also important to enable users to interact with your content. Make it usable. For example, ensure your images are large enough and touch-friendly, especially if they have links to other content. The buttons should also be large and colorful enough for users to see and touch.

Best practices for mobile email design

Having a mobile-first mindset when designing content increases visibility. Today, people are busy. They prefer to do most things on their cell phones and have a good experience at the same time. These best practices will allow you to optimize your content for mobile users.

Choose the right text size

When targeting mobile users, avoid using text that’s too small or too large. Very small text will not be visible on a cell phone, and users will have to squint to read your content.

Also, make sure the text is not too large. When the text is too large, you’ll look unprofessional and discourage users from reading your message.

Use Alt text

If you choose to include images in your emails, consider using alt text as well. Alt text explains what your image is all about in case it does not load.

Images may fail to load on a user’s mobile device due to poor connectivity, or the user might be trying to save data, and they don’t allow images to download automatically.

With an alt text, a reader will know what an image is about even if it does not load. A screen reader can also read the alt text out loud for users.

Consider color choices

When you choose the right colors and use them in creating content for your email audience, they can help extend your brand's reach. Colors except black and white can add intrigue to your emails and direct users’ attention to important parts of your message, like a CTA button.

The color choices you pick should be less than five, so your brand is clean and simple. The text should also be legible on your background. You also have to consider chances are your email will be read in dark mode. Look at the dark mode guide here: Create the perfect email to be displayed in the complex dark mode

Preview content

Content can look different on different digital devices. After creating your email, preview it and see what it looks like to your audience. When using a template, click the preview button to see how your content looks on a mobile device.

Previewing your emails before sending them to readers allows you to choose the right format for your audience. It also enables you to check for and correct any design errors and proofread your work. Checking your emails before sending them provides a chance to proofread and correct spelling mistakes. A clean design and error-free content build trust and loyalty with your audience.

Message preview on a computer in regular mode
Message preview on a cellphone in dark mode: the text is shorter and the pre-header becomes much more important

Test your mobile emails

After checking, and making sure everything looks good, send the email to your inbox. This is a test email that allows you to open it on your mobile device and experience the design the same way other users will. As you see, message preview can appear very differently on a cellphone then on a computer in terms of text length, both for object and pre-header.

You will be able to see how the pre-header looks and preview the email in your inbox. If you are satisfied with the design and content, you can send it to your audience. You can test your email directly in Cakemail Email designer, but we recommend you send test emails to check them on different cellphones.

Benefits of mobile email design

Mobile email has become an important part of business, and it can help you stand out from the competition. When you pay attention to your mobile email design, you’ll reap the following benefits.

Dark mode display makes reading easier

People spend most of their time on digital devices, which can strain the eyes.

According to data, 81.9% of smartphone users prefer using dark mode. Therefore, when designing for mobile, achieving a dark mode design is essential.

People will enjoy reading more of your emails, whether during the daytime or at night.

Great responsiveness

When your email designs provide the best user experience, there will be a higher response rate. Partners, clients, and suppliers can quickly access and read your emails because they are clear and load faster.

That means communication will improve since mobile users will be encouraged to access your emails at any time from any location. A good user experience will also encourage people to share or forward your content, extending your brand's reach.

Lower bounce rate

Marketers use email to drive traffic to the company’s website. That means they’ll start an email marketing campaign that will be successful only if people open and read the emails.

A good email design with an excellent user experience helps ensure people click, read, and stay on the email for a long period of time.

The emails also have links to the company website. When these links are strategically positioned and mobile-friendly, more people are likely to click them.

When your audience can engage with you via mobile email, it means they can do it from any location. They don’t have to be in an office somewhere. They can enjoy other personal things while engaging with you via email. This makes you accessible at any time, thanks to a well-designed email that’s optimized for mobile.

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