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Mobile Email Design: Reaching Consumers On-the-Go

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January 29, 2013 - By Melissa Goss - Email Design

What’s the first and last thing you look at each day? While some of you might respond “my significant other”, if you’re like 29% of mobile device users, you’d say “my phone”. Given that more than 119 million people in the U.S. own smartphones, according to Comscore, that’s a lot of people—35 million—attached to their pocket-sized gadgets. 

Smartphones fit into our increasingly on-the-go lifestyles (but arguably, not into those increasingly skinny skinny jeans) and make checking and responding to email that much easier. In fact, in the first half of 2012, 36% of emails were opened on mobile devices while 64% were opened on desktops. This marked an increase of more than 15% and a decline of more than 15%, respectively, from 2011 to 2012. While email open rates for mobile are on the rise, in some industries, they've already reached desktop open rates. 

Despite the fact that 41% of mobile owners have made a purchase as a result of an email viewed on a mobile device, many companies still haven’t adapted their marketing to this mobile email trend. In this day and age, your savvy customers don’t have the time or, really, the inclination to deal with all the pinching, zooming, and scrolling of their screens to read your messages. That’s what scalable and responsive designs are for.

Scalable design employs one layout, a grid system, and (usually) single-column stacked sections. This makes email readable on both computer monitors and mobile screens, plus fingertip clickable when it comes to mobile devices. Text and buttons are enlarged, yet streamlined to eliminate clutter on the limited screen size.

Responsive design adapts your email marketing to the device it’s rendered on—PC or mobile—by using CSS media queries to create a layout that is proportional to the display. The primary responsive email design has a larger layout and is meant for desktops, though it can be used for tablets since they have large screens as well (768 x 1024 pixels). Developers can then rework this desktop layout to create a second responsive email using style sheets to adjust campaign elements—resize page widths and images, reformat copy, or completely turn off areas of code containing extraneous text or images.

Want real-life examples of mobile-friendly email design? In a series of blog posts over the next few weeks, we’ll show you some email marketing campaigns that catered to fast-paced subscribers. In the meantime, download our latest whitepaper, Mobile Email Design: Marketing Fit for the Small Screen

About the Author
, Prior to Yesmail, Melissa Goss worked in search engine marketing at ModCloth. Melissa graduated from Northwestern University with a B.A. in Communication Studies, a minor in Business and a Medill certificate in Integrated Marketing Communications.