Do you regularly check your email using a smartphone? If you do, you’re not alone. The number of people using a mobile Internet device to view their email continues to rise at a staggering pace. According to, 75% of smartphone owners read or send email on their device.

That metric alone emphasizes the importance of delivering your email content in a mobile friendly format. Much like designing a website for cross-browser compatibility, your emails need to accommodate multiple email programs, in order to provide your viewers with a format that’s easy to digest.

When viewing email on your desktop computer using email programs such as Outlook or Gmail, your monitor allows a great deal of space – fonts are easy to read, hyperlinks are easily clicked on with your mouse and images are displayed in all their glory. On a mobile device, everything is resized to fit the narrower screen. If you have any graphics with text in them, they will be completely unreadable, live text requires you to zoom in and scroll in order to read it and standard hyperlinks are difficult to click or tap on with your finger. These inconveniences can deter your subscribers from reading your emails or, worse, cause them to unsubscribe altogether.

Best Practices for Mobile Friendly Email

Because real estate is limited on a mobile device, try to be concise in your messaging, keeping a “less is more” approach to both content and layout. Here are a few things to consider when optimizing emails for mobile devices:

  • Single-column layouts work best for mobile, providing a clean, easy-to-read hierarchy to your content. Streamlining your content allows viewers to scan the information and find what interests them more quickly, improving engagement.
  • Calls to action (text links and buttons) need more space to allow a person’s finger to tap on them. Since there is no mouse to click on links, the minimum recommended size is 44 x 44 pixels. This allows users the ability to easily click on buttons and links to get where you want them to go.
  • Adjust font size to a minimum of 13 pixels. iPhones actually up-size anything smaller than 13 pixels, so this should be adjusted to maintain your layout.
  • Keep your message concise. The average time a person spends scanning/reading content is short, so the need for strong, direct headlines and content is paramount. You’re competing against dozens of other emails, so the quicker you can deliver your message, the better.

Below is an example of the same email with different layouts as viewed on an iPhone. The mobile version on the left is simply easier to navigate and read. It really boils down to providing the best experience for your audience and allowing them the ability to choose what format works best for them to receive your content.

If current technology trends aren’t enough to motivate you to consider your mobile audience, what’s the best way to find out if a mobile friendly format is right for you? Go directly to the source and ask your audience what they prefer. There are several options available for creating online polls to ask you subscriber list about their email viewing preferences. Once you have your own data, you can decide what course of action is best.

What are your thoughts? Do you use a mobile device to read email? What examples of good (or bad) email design have you received?