Home Resources Blog

With 68% of email campaigns being opened on a mobile device, email with a mobile-friendly design is no longer a nice to have, it’s a must have.

In this post, we’ll break down seven essential tips to creating mobile-friendly email campaigns.

Why are mobile-friendly emails so important?

As marketers, we used to worry about how our emails would look on several email clients. But the explosion of devices and email clients has created an insane challenge. From 2010 to 2015, email opens on mobile devices increased by 30%.


If your emails aren’t mobile-friendly, you could be missing out on the opportunity to engage your subscribers and drive results. So let’s examine seven simple, yet essential tips that any marketer can use to make their emails more mobile-friendly starting right now.

7 tips to make your emails more mobile friendly

1. Watch your subject line length

A typical desktop inbox displays about 60 characters of an email’s subject line, while mobile devices show just 25-30 characters, according to a post by Return Path, and after analyzing over 2 million emails from 3,000 senders, they discovered that most subject lines were between 41-50 characters.

Before you go optimizing your subject lines for mobile though, it’s good to have a basic understanding of what percent of your subscribers will open your email on a mobile phone vs. tablet vs. desktop so you determine the best subject line length.

Depending on what email marketing tool you use, you can likely get this information from your email reports. Campaign Monitor customers can find this information under the email client report.


As you can see, the report shows exactly what email clients your subscribers are using to view your campaigns.

If you find that a good portion of your subscribers are opening on an iPhone or Android device, then it would be worth keeping your subject lines under 25-30 characters so that they look great on those devices.

2. Use pre-header text

Pre-header text is often ignored, left out and just plain overlooked, but it can be very useful when it comes to mobile-friendly emails.

If you’re unsure of what pre-header text is, it’s the first line of copy in your email and serves as a wingman to your subject line providing more context to entice your reader to open your email.

Here’s an example from Gmail on an iPhone 6. You can see the preheader text and the other elements. People can adjust their settings to display additional pre-header/preview text, but for the majority of those who use default settings, this is what they’ll see:

preheader text

Preheader length will vary by both email client and by device so try different lengths and see what works best based on what you know about where (mobile, tablet or desktop) your subscribers are opening your email campaigns.

3. Keep your copy concise

When you write copy for mobile-friendly emails, it’s crucial to keep it short and concise. Create short, scannable and, consumable chunks of content (i.e., bulleted lists, short paragraphs) that make it easy for your reader to digest your copy and understand the action they should take with your message.

The folks at Litmus also advise, “Overall screen size is small when it comes to consuming email content on a mobile device, and consumers are more likely to be multitasking when they get your message on mobile. It’s more important now than ever to engage the user as efficiently as possible; limit the amount of copy you include, and make sure it is easily scannable by using headers, bullet points, and short paragraphs of text whenever possible.”


This newsletter from InVision is a great example. The copy is short but compelling enough to entice you to click-through and read the article, and it’s directly related to both the image above and the button copy below.

4. Give thought to your images

Not all mobile devices display images by default so it’s best to plan for an “images off” experience and make sure your email will still make sense if your images don’t show. WebMarketing Today says, “blocked images remain a challenge for image-heavy emails. Descriptive body copy has to do the heavy lifting. It’s useful to think of images as optional, supporting the surrounding text, rather than the reverse.”

5. Keep CTAs front and center

When creating emails for busy, on-the-go readers, you want to get to the point quickly and tell them what you want them to do right up front.

Place your call to action near the top of your email to make it the most mobile friendly. To ensure maximum clickability, make your CTA buttons at least 44 x 44 pixels.

Check out this example from Freshbooks:


6. Leave breathing (and clicking) room

When creating your mobile-friendly email, remember to make it click-friendly, by leaving enough white space around links and CTAs to make them clickable. You can see this in the example from Freshbooks, they leave plenty of room around the CTA button so it’s easy to click without accidentally clicking something else by mistake.


Don’t stack links on top of each other as it makes it challenging for your mobile reader to click and take action.

7. Test your emails across multiple devices

Before you schedule and send your email, make sure you test it across multiple devices and email clients. Campaign Monitor customers can send a test of their email and see how it appears in over 25 different email clients.

Wrap up

These seven essential, but easy-to-implement tips should have you on your way to creating mobile-friendly emails that your on-the-go readers will love to open and take action on.

  • Hannah Stacey

    Awesome post! Re: images – does the same go for ecommerce? All the emails I get from online retailers seem to be completely image-based with little to no text – is this a bad idea?

  • Kim

    Hi Hannah! Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. As far as images go, it’s good to have a balance of text and images. As you mention, many retailers do use an image with very little or no text. In this case if images are off by default, they should at least have ALT text to help entice readers to turn them on.

    Cheers and thanks again for reading!

  • dev

    This is really interesting. All of us were talking about making the website mobile friendly but nobody thought it before that we need to make our mails mobile friendly as well.

  • Jaina

    Great post.

    I think, depending on your audience, there was this thought that customers/users who view emails on mobile want to see less content. But that’s not always true. Of course you don’t want your emails scrolling until the sun comes down on mobile, but at the same time, make sure the customer gets the whole message whether they’re on desktop or mobile.

  • Shane Petty

    I just got an email the other day that was formatted so badly, I just deleted it. Thanks for the formatting tips for mobile. With the increased use of smartphones by our clients, I’ve noticed in our analytics reports that around 70% are accessing from a mobile device. Great info!

  • Phil

    Good points! Except your email client graph was too small to be read on my iPhone!?!?

  • James

    Using good pre-header text is a must – the number of emails I get with malformed, wrong or simply misspelled is increbible and makes the email and sending look amateurish. Great article.

  • Brian Lonsdale

    Using preheader text is definetly a great point to mention when it comes to email on mobile. Nice article.

  • motoDNA

    Great tips, Thanks.

    However Camapign Monitor displays the pre-header text

    No Images? Click here

    How do we edit this ?

  • Campaign Monitor

    Hi MotoDNA

    You can switch this on or off by navigating to the ‘Customize’ tab in the email builder and ticking/unticking the ‘Web Version’ checkbox in the Social & Settings area.

    Hope this helps. If you have any other questions please feel free to email us on support@campaignmonitor.com

  • motoDNA

    Great – tnx for the quick reply, great service :-)

This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
Straight to your inbox

Get the best email and digital marketing content delivered.

Join 250,000 in-the-know marketers and get the latest marketing tips, tactics, and news right in your inbox.


See why 200,000 companies worldwide love Campaign Monitor.

From Australia to Zimbabwe, and everywhere in between, companies count on Campaign Monitor for email campaigns that boost the bottom line.

Get started for free