How to Optimize Email for Mobile


Photo: HubSpider

Are you tired of hearing about how it’s a mobile-dominated world nowadays? It may be a cliché but it is true, with 67 percent of all email opens in the U.S. were through a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet, in the first quarter of 2015, according to a report by Movable Ink. Furthermore, 75 percent of emails that are not in a mobile-friendly format are deleted immediately, according to a survey by Brafton. These numbers will only increase, rapidly, as time goes on – mobile is not going anywhere. So what’s an email marketer got to do to stay with the times? (Besides ensure accuracy, professionalism and proper spelling/grammar, which go without saying.)

Not to worry. Here is a guide on how to optimize emails for mobile.

Use responsive email templates

A responsive email is one that detects the type of device – PC, phone or tablet – it is opened with and automatically adapts its content to the screen size. The email’s layout and overall look expands or contracts depending on the device, shifting elements to re-organize for each screen size. The issues of non-responsive emails – fonts scaled down to tiny ant sizes, having to scroll horizontally to finish reading one line of text, images not resizing properly, etc. – would not apply.

It’s impossible to anticipate what kind of device your email will be opened from, so don’t bother to create an email specifically for that device – what’s possibly worse than wrangling a PC-tailored email on mobile is trying to blow up a mobile-intended email on a PC. Instead, use an email marketing service with in-built responsive templates. At Easypurl, for example, we offer dozens of responsive templates with preview options in all device screen sizes, so you can make sure your email looks exactly the way it’s meant to.

Mobile-friendly design

Visual presentation is important in marketing, as we know well. Strong images, short, readable paragraphs and presenting the most important information first before your audience’s attention drifts are basic rules for any content, including email. In mobile email, images work a little differently.

First, make the file sizes as small as possible to load quickly on erratic smartphone Internet connections. There is software such as JPEGmini that reduces file size without compromising image quality.

It is a good idea to use just a few images, possibly in a one-column format, to keep the overall email layout clean and uncluttered. A look that is too busy can distract the audience from the key message. Here are some examples of minimalist web sites for design inspiration.

Fabrik dot co dot jp


It is important to note that many some email clients, especially on mobile, block images by default. Here is a rough guide, updated in January 2015:



To address this problem, try:

  • Cutting down on image use and ensure that all the important information is prominent in text
  • Or using ALT text to load images instead. More information about ALT text emails can be found here.

What the email looks like in a mobile inbox

Photo: Business2Community

Photo: Business2Community

Mobile emails have one opportunity to make a good first impression, pique audience interest and generate a click-through. There are three components to the first impression: the From line, the Subject line and the first 30 or so characters of the the email

The From line

  • Be professional. Poor spelling or grammar is disastrous, and lowercase words should be avoided unless they are brand-deliberate.
  • Be personal. Always set from lines to a name (the company’s name or the name of a rep from the company), rather than a generic email address such as “”. The robotic feel of from lines that reveal can be off-putting to targets.

The Subject line

  • Brevity: Keep subject lines short so that they will fully display in mobile.

Phrasee, a company that specializes in email subject line optimization, analyzed the subject lines of over 700 million marketing emails from the U.S. and U.K. Some conclusion they made were that keywords indicating newness (e.g. “introducing”), keywords indicating urgency (e.g. “sale starts”) and punctuation conveying anticipation (e.g. ellipses) work well.


The full details of Phrasee’s findings are well worth reading.

The first 30 characters

  • In a smartphone’s regular vertical display, only about the first 30 characters of text in your email display. This is where information hierarchy is crucial, to introduce your campaign or offer immediately and succinctly. Targets should have an idea of the email’s purpose by just seeing the subject line and first 30 characters.
  • Many marketing emails start with a standard “If you are having trouble viewing this email…” disclaimer. Make sure this is not the first visible content in a target’s mobile inbox. Put the important content first to display in inboxes and push that line afterwards.

The world at their fingertips

Photo: AFP

Photo: AFP

The physical mechanics of using a mobile device cannot be forgotten. Fingers, not laser-precise mouse pointers, are used to scroll, zoom and click links. Therefore it’s important to use buttons, like this:


Photo: Shutterstock

…Not in-text hyperlinks (like this), for links. Buttons are bigger, more visible and easier to ‘click’. It is simple to add an image of a button and edit the HTML to make it a link. Space out links if including multiple ones, to prevent recipients from accidentally clicking on the wrong one.

Call to action


Photo: Adweek

Finally, it is important to include a clear, strong CTA in your emails. For many email campaigns, the purpose is to direct targets to a landing page for an offer, to collect registration information or something along those lines. For best viewing, ensure that the landing page is also mobile-friendly – Google has a convenient tool that tests any webpage for mobile accessibility. Easypurl‘s software includes many customizable responsive landing page templates to go with our email templates.

One final note: Design your landing page to be visually consistent with your email, for brand congruence.

To learn more about Easypurl, contact us today.

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