Does Your Audience Open Your Emails on a Computer or a Mobile Device? Know Before You Design!

There’s plenty of talk these days about designing for mobile. That’s a good thing, since eMarketer’s Email Marketing Benchmarksreport notes that about a third of emails are now opened using mobile devices.  Email marketing technology is evolving, which makes designing for a variety of devices easier than ever. Yet as with anything email marketing related, we need to take a step back before we start on the design. Just because technology makes it easy doesn’t ensure technology makes it good.

Designing your email marketing to render well on mobile devices such as smartphones and iPads takes a different approach. However, you also need to understand your audience and how they interact with their email (especially yours) before you go playing with pixels.

Here are a two things you should know before you begin your design:

1. What percentage of your audience views your emails on mobile devices? It could be it’s such a small percentage that your time and effort would be better spent improving the way your emails render on desktops and laptops. Or it could be a huge percentage uses iPads over Droids, giving you a bigger screen as your default.

2. What percentage of your audience views email on both a mobile device and a computer? Plenty of people perform email triage throughout the day, deleting emails on their smartphones while standing in line at the bank or drinking their morning coffee. But at the same time they are cleaning out their inbox to make their day more manageable once at the computer, they are also keeping some emails there “for later.” This could be for reading later, or it could be for interacting with later. If your email links to a website, for instance, they might want to check out your promotion or webinar…on a bigger screen and with more attention.

Knowing the answers could save you both time and clickthroughs. Consider the time spent trying to make your button easy to find and click on with a mobile device when you don’t need to, because your particular audience prefers to sit at a computer to respond. There’s also the dilemma of designing an email that sacrifices high impact graphics in exchange for a fluid and responsive design, when perhaps mobile rendering only matters for a fraction of your audience.

Now, it could be research and testing will tell you designing for mobile marketing is imperative, because your audience is on their smartphones and clicking on those buttons with fat fingers to try and get to your landing page or website. But it could be that’s not the case.

It’s for you to determine before you design. If you have the right email marketing technology, you can see analytics of how your email is opened, shared and viewed. You can also add questions about subscribers’ mobile preferences during your opt-in process. Finally, the best email service providers can even generate alternative versions for mobile rendering, just as they do for html and text.

The more you know about your email audience and the devices they use, the better you can design for the optimum user experience and response, while minimizing your development burden.

Published On: October 11th, 2012Categories: Email marketing best practicesTags: ,

About the Author: Sharon

Sharon Ernst from is on a mission to improve the business and marketing writing skills of today’s workforce with her blog, newsletter and online classes. Her newest class on intermediate email copywriting covers 19 tips and techniques non-copywriters can put to use right away for better results. The class has real-life examples and before/after comparisons to make the lessons stick. Find her class at When she’s not busy helping employees, managers and marketers master their writing skills, she and her husband are busy raising pigs, cows, chickens and vegetables on their 20-acre farm.

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