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Make sure your marketing emails are mobile-friendly, experts say

More than half of all emails are opened on mobile devices, yet 40 percent of consumers say promotional emails aren't well designed for that format, a recent survey showed. 

According to a recent survey by email intelligence

According to a recent survey by email intelligence firm 250ok, nearly 40 percent of consumers report that promotional emails aren't well designed for their mobile device, which puts marketers at a severe disadvantage. Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStock/StockRocket

More than half of emails are opened on mobile devices.

Yet, many marketers still aren’t doing a good enough job of making their emails mobile-friendly.

According to a recent survey by email intelligence firm 250ok, nearly 40 percent of consumers report that promotional emails aren’t well designed for their mobile device, which puts marketers at a severe disadvantage.

“It’s all about enhancing the user experience on a smaller screen device,” says Anthony Chiulli, director of product marketing at Indianapolis-based 250ok.

Among the top issues cited by survey respondents who read emails on their phones were how the email fit their screen and readability, according to the survey.

For instance, often brands will pick fonts and typefaces that “are creative and artistic and look cool, but aren’t necessarily readable” on mobile devices, says Chiulli.

In general, experts say to use a sans-serif font for text appearing on a mobile device, he says, noting 250ok’s platform allows marketers to create and test-market emails to see how they  look across 60 different devices. Examples of common sans-serif fonts are Arial, Helvetica and Tahoma.

 Tiny text should also be avoided;  you want text that’s easy to read on any device, says Dave Charest, director of content marketing for Constant Contact in Waltham, Massachusetts, which provides online marketing for small businesses and offers over 100 mobile-responsive email templates.

As a best practice, use 22-point type for headlines and 14-point for body text; choose web-safe fonts that are pre-installed on many devices; and don't use more than two different fonts, says Charest.

To check the readability of a font size, it pays to send a test email to yourself, which most email programs allow you to do, says Chris Ulrich, president of Direct Response Group, an internet marketing strategy firm in Melville that can assist in designing email and marketing campaigns. That way you can see how it looks before sending it out to the masses.

As to email length, Charest says the best results come with 20 lines of text. If your content’s longer, include a few short lines of "teaser" text with a link to read more online, he says, and keep subject lines to four to seven words.

Ronen Yaari agrees the subject line should be "short and simple." The partner at OpenMoves, a Huntington digital marketing firm that offers a  a platform to pre-select mobile friendly templates, says the goal is to get the recipient to read more.

Images are also a consideration. Pay attention to how many you’re using in mobile emails, says Ulrich. For one thing, an excessive number of them can trigger spam filters, he says, and security settings in many recipients' email programs may block images on their mobile devices by default. Marketers often put text in the image itself, adding to the problem, he says.

The better strategy, he advises, is to use actual text and, if appropriate, include a couple of images for style and emphasis so if someone opens the email and the images don’t appear, they can still read all the relevant information.

Keep in mind the aim of the email is to get the recipient to take some action, such as make a call or click a link, says Ulrich.

 So make sure your call-to-action buttons are visible and designed for "fat fingers,” says Yaari. Avoid tiny buttons that you have to zoom in on or that are so close to another button that the user can click on the wrong button.

Finally, keep the layout clean and simple, he says, noting single-column layouts that are easy to scroll up and down are best.

“It’s all about keeping it simple and in line with that mobile experience,” Chiulli says.

Less is more

An analysis of more than 2.1 million Constant Contact customer emails found that emails with three or fewer images and 20 lines of text saw the highest click-through rates.

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