Is email marketing dead?
The consensus among business leaders and so-called cutting-edge marketers who’ve gone all in on social media, YouTube videos, podcasting and other forms of digital communication would be, “yes.”
However, that is not the case.
In reality, the humble email hasn’t gone anywhere.
Smartphone habits of consumers indicate that reading email comes second only to making phone calls. Moreover, email is still responsible for at least twice as many online conversions than social media.
The confluence of email and mobile is especially noteworthy. As early as 2013, GetResponse discovered that “42 percent of subscribers delete emails that don’t display correctly on mobile phones.”
This means that to leverage the awesome power of email, you must get mobile. Here’s a simple three-step guide to get you started:
1. The layout
Mobile responsiveness isn’t just about changing the size and dimensions of your content to fit a smaller screen. It is also about reinforcing your brand strategy in order to enhance brand awareness.
Mobile users are notorious for skimming emails, so use attention-grabbing images and copy. Don’t waste valuable “mobile” real estate on pointless distractions. Naturally, your responsive email strategy must be executed with your audience in mind. However, here are some proven best practices that deliver effective results:
- Use single-column layouts that expand to multiple columns on desktops.
- Place your most important information above the scroll.
- Space out your links.
- Keep the header clean and avoid the first line of your email being something like, “Having trouble viewing this email. Click here to view in your browser.”
- Optimize for image blocking by using compelling alt text and by testing plain text emails.
- Use web-safe fonts and a text size of at least 12 pixels.
- Make your CTAs “clear, big and simple to click.” In other words, avoid what’s called “fat finger” syndrome.
Provide plenty of white space.
2. The copy
Balancing your gorgeous design layout with compelling copy is the second step in creating responsive emails. The keys here are brevity—keep it short—and paying very close attention to the “only three lines that matter”: the “from” field, subject line and first line of text.
Why? Because on a mobile device, those are the only three lines most subscribers will see.
The “from” field : Unless you run a world-renowned brand, include the name of a real person in the “from” field. Make sure the email address actually works so you can respond to complaints, questions or recommendations.
The subject line: The most alluring email will be for nothing if the subject line doesn’t get your subscriber to open it.
Research indicates that, on mobile, subject lines between six to 10 words that include the recipient’s first name and—most intriguingly—also include a movie title or song lyric have the highest open rates.
The copy: Don’t waste your readers’ time with bland and banal copy.
Pack a punch into your first line of text, not only because it should lead your audience into the rest of the email, but also because mobile devices display the first line below the subject line within inbox previews (see above).
Tighten your writing by eliminating unnecessary words. Use short paragraphs, lots of line breaks, and subheads to create a skimmable reading experience.
Related: 4 Habits of a Super-Connector
Call to action: Email exists for one reason: to get a response. Normally that response will be a simple click. To drive clicks, CTAs must be specific, stand out from the rest of the copy, communicate urgency and offer clear value.
For maximum clarity, limit each email to one CTA. Be sure the page your sending your traffic to is also optimized for mobile viewing.
3. The code
If you already have an in-house IT team, good for you! If not, but you do have a basic understanding of coding, you can take advantage of the numerous online templates to implement mobile email yourself.
Litmus outlines three core components of a responsive design that converts:
- Query: Defines which CSS Style to use based on screen size.
- Styles: Based on the query above, a pre-determined style is activated.
- The HTML : Must mirror the elements specified in each CSS Style in order to take effect.
However, if the mere mention of coding makes you break out in hives, fear not.
Any email provider worth your time will allow you to create mobile-friendly emails without any technical hassles. Just be sure the provider’s “responsive templates” do more than simply resize your text. You should be able to preview your email across multiple devices before sending.
More than half of emails (53 percent) are now opened on mobile devices, and that number is only going up. By combining the right layout, copy and code, the benefits are impossible to ignore. Get mobile, now.
Related: How to Network When You’re an Introvert Cynthia Johnson is a partner and the director of marketing at RankLab. A version of this article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Copyright © 2015 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.