Why Your Emails Need to Be Mobile Friendly

A decade ago, reading email on your phone would have been considered a luxury. The iPhone just hadn’t been out for very long, and smartphones were far from ubiquitous. But today, depending on your industry and audience, 85 percent or more of the people you are trying to reach might be reading your emails on their phones or tablets.

In the B2B world, your audience is more likely to read your emails on their work computer, so they are more divided between mobile and desktop. We’ve found, for example, that pastors tend to read their work email on their desktops about as often as they do on their mobile devices. But consumers are far more likely to open their email on their phones.

Mobile devices aren’t the future of tech—they’re the present. But some businesses and nonprofits are still stuck in the past, using email templates built for desktop, even when most of their audience reads on mobile.

If your organization wants to remain competitive in your industry and relevant to your audience, every email you send needs to be mobile friendly.

Here’s why.

If your email is hard to read, people will give up

When your emails aren’t mobile friendly, they don’t display correctly on phones and tablets. Images and text stretch past the edges of the screen. Words become too small to make out. Buttons and links get too small to tap because they were designed to be clicked.

Not only does it make reading your email tedious because people have to scroll sideways and zoom, but it can make your emails look buggy or broken (which reflects poorly on your brand).

The email marketing software company Adestra found that depending on the demographic, 68–79 percent of people simply delete emails that don’t look good. Very few people tough it out and read them on their phones, and even fewer people read it later on their computer (older people are least likely to do either of those things).

Mobile-friendly emails lower your unsubscribe rate

On top of that, Adestra also found that 12 percent or more of adults didn’t just delete emails that didn’t look good—they unsubscribed. (For reference, the average unsubscribe rate is well below 1 percent.)

If a company sends an email that isn’t mobile friendly, odds are the next one they send isn’t going to be mobile friendly either. So when someone sees an email that looks hard to read on their phone, and they always read email on their phone, there’s no point in continuing to subscribe. They aren’t going to keep opening your emails hoping to find one they can read. They’re just going to kick you out of their inbox.

Imagine if 12 percent or more of your mobile audience unsubscribed every time you sent an email. All that work you put into growing your email list would be wasted. And eventually, all you’d have left would be desktop users, unengaged subscribers, and a handful of extremely hardy mobile readers.

Maybe that’s where you’re at right now, and you’re having a hard time growing your list or keeping your audience engaged. If you make your emails mobile friendly, then the only reason people will unsubscribe is when your emails aren’t relevant to them (and if that’s the case, you don’t want them on your list anyway).

So how do you make your emails mobile-friendly?

There are a lot of things you can do to make your emails look better on mobile devices. But the most important thing to remember is that every screen is different. So what looks good on an iPhone may not look good on a Samsung Galaxy.

That’s why most email marketers use what’s called responsive design. This changes the code in your email template to make the email adapt to the screen size someone is reading your email on. It’s the surest way to make your email more mobile friendly.

But there are plenty of other, less involved changes you can make that help, too.

You could simplify your layout. The more structurally complex your email is (images, headers, buttons, columns, colors, etc.), the more opportunities there are for it to look bad. In fact, going text-only can be a great tactic to make sure your emails look better, and it can actually improve your click-through rates. (But of course, you should A/B test that with your audience.) Even if you don’t go text-only, moving to a single-column layout will improve the odds that your email looks correct on multiple devices.

Bottom line: you should always think about how your audience is going to read your email. Like everything else, email has become increasingly mobile over the years. And the organizations that don’t adapt to that are going to steadily fall behind.

If you want more tips for creating mobile-friendly emails, check out our post, 6 Ways to Keep Your Emails Cutting Edge.