4 ways to tailor your marketing messages for mobile devices

Social media is a popular platform for marketers, but many consumers rely on email for information. Here’s how to boost your content on small screens.


Despite all the hype about social media marketing, email is still a great way to spur decision makers to act.

Litmus says 53 percent of email is opened on a mobile device. Google says 75 percent of its Gmail users access their accounts this way. Given that most consumers read email on smartphones and tablets, have you adjusted your marketing tactics?

Here are four strategies for creating powerful email marketing messages that work well on small screens:

1. Be concise.

Brevity is always a good thing, but it’s essential for messages that are read on mobile devices.

Keep your messages simple and break them into short, easily consumed chunks that can be scanned quickly on the go.

This rule also applies to the subject line. A typical desktop inbox displays about 60 characters of an email’s subject line, but mobile devices show only 25-30 characters.

Limiting your subject line to 30 characters or less can be challenging. One way to capture the reader’s attention in only five or six words is to pose a question or otherwise engage the reader. These recent subject lines captured our attention effectively:

Want to have more time? Write a bestseller in 30 days What are our customers saying?

2. Use a mobile-friendly format.

To maximize readability, use a single-column template. Select a large font size—14 pt. or larger—since small type is hard to read on a tiny screen.

Keep your message under 600 pixels wide. Don’t stack links on top of each other—it’s easy to click the wrong link if they are too close together.

3. Go light on images.

Though images can help capture a readers attention, display conventions vary across devices.

Apple’s iOS displays images automatically, but other mobile device platforms—like Android—turn images off by default. Dave Gerhardt, product marketing specialist at Constant Contact, said, “You can’t assume your images will be displayed.”

Free download: 10 Ways to Get Employees to Open and Read Your Email

If your email message contains several images, these might appear as blocks of white space. Gerhardt recommended that marketers use image descriptions—called “alt text”—to let readers know what an image is if it doesn’t appear.

Preview messages on multiple mobile platforms to be sure they convey your information properly, even with the image display suppressed.

4. Be deliberate with your call to action.

People often read email on their mobile phones in short bursts—between classes or while waiting for an appointment—so they might not read your message in full.

Your call to action should appear near the top. Tell your readers what you want them to do and make it easy for them to meet the challenge.

Make your call to action link large enough to follow up effectively on a small screen. Fingers are not as exact as mouse pointers. If your readers have to tap more than once to continue interacting with your content, there’s a chance they won’t bother. Display a clearly labeled call-to-action button that is at least 40-50 pixels square, with no other links around it.

What mobile-friendly email marketing practices do you find effective?

Jay Bryant is the digital director at C. Blohm & Associates. A version of this article originally appeared on the firm’s blog.

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