6 Quick Design Updates to Increase Mobile Engagement

Calie Brennan, Creative Director, Real Magnet

We Americans love our mobile phones. But not always! Few among us have the patience to navigate the pain points of reading un-optimized content on our mobile devices:  Zoom in to read something?  No thanks.  Scroll horizontally to see a full image?  Delete.  Not to mention the agony of accidentally tapping on an ad when we just wanted to read more or, on really joyful occasions, when an ad blocks an entire page and we can’t access the content at all.

Data backs up what we already know:  71.6% of consumers will delete emails if they don’t look good on mobile, while an average of 10% will read it anyway. (*EmailMonday.com)  None of us want to be that marketer or designer that launches a painful mobile experience, but the task of coming up with a mobile email strategy and updating template designs can be daunting.

It doesn’t have to be!

Whether you’re on a small marketing team with limited resources or you’re in the process of developing a major mobile strategy and are looking for some easy updates in the meantime, here a few quick updates to make your messages more mobile-friendly in a matter of minutes:


Bump up font-size

This will help reduce the number of recipients that need to zoom in to read your content. We recommend at least 18px for body font size!

Make sure you use plenty of whitespace

Content on a mobile device should be easy to scan, and a little padding can go a long way.  Don’t neglect the left and right edges of your email!  Text that goes right up to the edge of the screen is hard to read and follow onto the next line.  Also think about adding some space between lines by increasing the line-height of your paragraphs to at least 1.5x the font-size.

Use color strategically

Something as simple as adding color to titles or the background of different email sections can make a big difference in the scanability of the email.


Choose colors that are high in contrast

You never know where your recipient is going to be or how high the brightness on their phone will be, so make sure the contrast between text and background colors is high.


Trade in your links for buttons – and keep plenty of space between them

The best buttons are easily tapped on a mobile device and allow for plenty of space around them for accuracy.  If you need a toothpick to tap just the right place, chances are your link won’t be clicked.


Use a single column

Emails with multiple columns will almost always cause the user to need to zoom or to scroll horizontally to read content.  Keep it simple and stick to a one-column design.

Simply making these changes to your message is what designers consider a mobile-aware strategy.  All of your recipients are receiving the same version of your message and it looks good for everyone.  If you want to go one step further toward capturing your mobile-friendly audience (and you should!), try using responsive design to create a tailored mobile experience that displays a design unique to your mobile recipients.  This often takes more time and some HTML knowledge – but it’s worth it.  For more on your mobile design options check out our Mobile Whitepaper.

Lately, savvy email marketers have found success using a simple card format for their emails: an image, title, and description modeled after the content we so often consume on social media.  The card model is a simple way to be mobile-friendly and unify your social and email strategies with a short and simple message for our ever-decreasing attention spans.

Experimenting with these techniques on different types of content will increase your own awareness of what works while also pulling in the extra clickthroughs you’re looking for.  We’d love to hear from you with questions or stories of things that work for you!  For any questions on your mobile strategy or to find out how we can help you simplify your design process, email our design team!