How to Optimize Emails and Newsletters for Mobile
Having a mobile optimized email design is important. Subscribers should not need to do any extra work to read your emails and get your message. Making the reader stretch, scroll, or squint means more effort, and this will decrease response and interaction rates on subsequent mailings. Another consequence of poor mobile design is that subscribers can push side bars off the viewing area, thus, mitigating the impact of embedded marketing messages and ads.
There are three approaches to making emails easier to read and navigate on mobile:
Big Font - Make the width smaller (less than 650px) and make the fonts bigger.
Flex Format - Remove all fixed width requirements in the email and assure that no image is wider than 300px.
Styled Images - Use the latest CSS techniques to control the scaling of large images on mobile devices.
The Big Font approach is good for mobile, but often looks too narrow on a desktop. It works well when fixed widths are required for a uniform look across all email readers. Marketing mailings with heavy use of images are best suited for this approach.
The Flex Format approach will let the email adjust to the email client. Narrow mobile email readers will push down wide navigation, logo areas, and titles to display the email optimally for different mobile widths and orientations. Desktop email readers will expand the email to fit the wider screen space. This approach is best for newsletters, alerts, and single article commentaries.
Also in the Flex Format approach, ads can be made to adapt as well by using narrow images combined with stylized HTML text. Since the newsletters with this design approach are more likely to be read without altering the viewing area the flex format ads will always be viewable. Another tip is to use a max width option, if desired, to limit the width on desktop email clients, but note the max width option is not supported by all email clients (for example Outlook)
The Styled Images approach is best for legacy newsletter designs that require large width images. It will make these large width images adjust more to fit the width of the mobile phone without proportionally adjusting text sizes to preserve relative sizing between text and image. This is a highly effect technique for making traditional newsletter designs mobile friendly.
Regardless of the approach chosen for mobile email design, a better mobile email experience for subscribers will lead to higher interactions and value.