10 Critical Mobile Email Tips for Local Businesses

Mobile Email

Email is a critical way for local businesses to build customer loyalty and get repeat business. But if your emails aren’t mobile friendly, you’re missing over half of your customers. Find out why, and discover the 10 things you must do to make your emails mobile friendly.

According to Litmus 1, over 53% of emails are now being opened on a mobile device (66% according to Movable Ink 2). If your emails aren’t easy to read on a mobile device, then you’re really wasting half of the emails you send. People won’t try to read your message and, worse yet, they may stop opening future emails or just flat-out unsubscribe.

Let’s see what an email looks like on a typical mobile device. Figure 1 below shows an email I recently received from High Hops Brewery. High Hops is one of my favorite places to hang out and the people there are awesome (so is the beer)! But immediately you can see a couple of problems with this email:

  • The subject line is too long. Mobile devices are narrow so you’ve got to be short and concise with your subject lines.
  • The preview shows the first text it finds in the email. Instead of something that would compel me to open the email, the preview shows “If you are having problems viewing this email, view it as a webpage” … boilerplate email header text that gets stuck at the top of emails that aren’t mobile friendly.
Figure 1 - How an email looks in a mobile inbox
Figure 1 – How an email looks in a mobile inbox

When you open the email (Figure 2 below), the first thing you see are housekeeping items (view as a webpage / add us to your address book) and options to share the email. There are several problems here too:

  • Because this is the first text in the email, it’s what shows in the preview up above in Figure 1. The first text in your email should be designed to appear well in the preview and compel someone to open the email.
  • The email is asking someone to share the email before they’ve even had the chance to read the email. That’s backwards. Give them your awesome message / content first and then ask them to share it.
  • Always lead with your best content. Make sure that the first thing people read in your email is compelling, offers something of interest and value to the reader, and has a strong call-to-action.
Figure 2 - Uneccesary text at top of email
Figure 2 – Unnecessary text at top of email

With Figure 3, we finally get into the content. This email actually had five additional screens worth of content, but I didn’t put them all here. There are lessons to be learned here as well:

  • Don’t put too much into your emails. People simply don’t read really long emails, especially on mobile devices. Stick to one concept / message per email.
  • Notice how tiny the text and graphics are? That’s because the email template is not mobile friendly (set to a fixed width that works OK on mobile devices), or even better, mobile responsive (automatically adjusts itself to fit on whatever size screen the person is using). As a result, I’d have to turn my device sideways (a behavior people don’t like to do) or zoom in on the email which is even worse.
  • On the positive side, this email does use a single column … multiple columns do not work well in email.
Figure 3 - Content too wide for mobile
Figure 3 – Content too wide for mobile

10 Key Mobile Email Tips

Hopefully you’re convinced that your emails should be mobile friendly. So here are 10 key tips to making your emails work for the 53% of your customers who read them on their mobile devices:

  1. Use a mobile template – At the very minimum, use a mobile friendly template that is no more than 600 pixels wide (to fit most mobile device screens). But it’s even better if you can use mobile responsive email template … one that automatically resizes based on the reader’s screen size. Most major email systems like MailChimp, Constant Contact, MyEmma and AWeber now offer mobile-responsive email templates.
  2. Use a single column layout – Multiple columns simply don’t work well in email. It makes the content too wide, and people read email in a linear fashion, not in columns like a magazine or newspaper.
  3. Keep your email subject line short – The width of mobile devices mean that your subject lines have to be short and compelling. Lengths vary by device, but a good rule of thumb is no more than 40 characters including spaces.
  4. Make sure the first text in your email is compelling – Get rid of preheader text (also called preview or snippet text) … things like “To view this email in a browser …” and anything else. The first text in your email is what will appear in the preview area on a mobile device email app, so it should compel someone to open your email. It should also be short. Most email apps will display the first 40-90 characters of text it finds in the email.
  5. Keep your content short – Long emails lose people. Keep your emails short and sweet … one concept / message per email, one image, a couple paragraphs / bullets, and one big call-to-action.
  6. Use large fonts – Bigger text is easier to read not only on mobile devices, but on computers as well. Use a minimum of 14 point text for the body and 24 point text for headlines.
  7. Optimize images – Use a photo editor and resize your images to 600 pixels wide maximum. This works fine in mobile email templates and keeps the size of the image down which makes it load faster on mobile devices. Most photo editors will also help you save the images as a JPG file or PNG file with different options to compress the size of the file. Choose the option that is the smallest file size while still letting the image look good.
  8. Make clickable items big – Remember, people usually use their thumbs to click things on mobile devices. Make your buttons and links big so that it’s easy for those thumbs to click them. And don’t stack multiple links close together!
  9. Put administrative and sharing options at the bottom of the email – This one is straightforward. Your primary message and call-to-action always come first in your email. All administrative, sharing, and other non-core information should go at the bottom of your email, after the call-to-action.
  10. Always test your email on a mobile device – This one seems obvious, but always look at a test of your email on a mobile device … several if possible. Many email services include mobile previews, but you still can’t beat seeing your own email on a mobile device that you’re holding in your own hands. And don’t forget to test every link too!



1)Jordan, Justine. “53% of Emails Opened on Mobile; Outlook Opens Decrease 33%.” Litmus. Salted Services, Inc., 15 January 2015. Web. 2 February 2016.

2)“US Consumer Device Preference Report, 2015 Year in Review.” Movable Inc. Movable Inc., n.d. Web.  2 February 2016.