Email for Mobile

Amid the rapid growth of mobile, the rise of email engagement via mobile devices is pretty staggering. A March 2013 report showed the percentage of email opens via mobile devices – that’s smartphones and tablets – at 43%. Just two years ago, that number was only 13%. At that rate, mobile devices are slated to become the primary vehicles for email engagement in less than one year from today. Given the importance of email to donor retention and cultivation, nonprofits must get ready now.

Usage still spans multiple devices. For instance, many users indicate that they first view email on a handheld, and handle follow-up via a desktop or laptop. Tablets, meanwhile, offer a significantly different experience than most smartphones. So what nonprofits need is a solution that works effectively across multiple platforms and sizes.

Enter: responsive email design. As with responsive Web design, this approach ensures that users have an optimal experience with your email, regardless of the device they use. Stated simply, this involves the creation of two CSS (cascading style sheets) versions of your email, with one optimized for a smaller screen. Coding is introduced to serve up one treatment or another based on screen size. This is responsiveness in its simplest form. Media queries and additional versions can be added to serve multiple devices – say, a PC, tablet and mobile phone.

Responsive email design is the best possible solution to users engaging through multiple devices, but even organizations that are not quite ready to take that step need to be optimizing email communications for mobile use. A poor mobile experience at the outset can doom not only one campaign, but donor responsiveness beyond that point as well. We’d strongly advise that if you’re designing a single email treatment for your fundraising campaign or newsletter, you do that with mobile in mind. Considerations include:

  • Layout: single columns not exceeding 600 pixels are ideal for handhelds.
  • Images: must be optimized for mobile. One good option is fluid image layouts, which adapt size to different dimensions by using percentages.
  • Font size: 13 pixels minimum is a good rule of thumb.
  • Buttons: must be large enough to be usable on small touch-screens – links, too.
  • Length: keep it concise.

As always, if you’d like to chat about mobile-responsive email strategies, don’t hesitate to contact us.