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Susan DeMatei
 
June 4, 2019 | Susan DeMatei

THE MOBILITY EFFECT ON DESIGN

When we first started using email regularly in the workplace, it was before the PalmPilot, BlackBerry, or iPhone. We viewed emails on computers at our desks. Emails took the place of memos, which took the place of letters––so formal, long format text was the norm. With the increasingly fast pace of technology adoption, our lines between work and non-work on a computer have blurred considerably. We used to read work emails at work and personal emails at home. Now, even though you may have separate work and personal email addresses, they go to the same mail account and everything is mixed.

The speed and ease of glancing at email on mobile devices has revolutionized how we consume email, and we are reading more emails than ever. According to the 2018 Deloitte Mobile Consumer Usage Survey, the average consumer checks their phone 52 times per day.1 We use our personal phones at work and our work phones at home. We have access to email 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and there are few times when we are unable to open an email.

With over half of our emails read on mobile devices, we have changed the way we interact with promotional emails, and with this, our expectations have changed. We expect to be able to see the content on our desktops, tablets, and phones. This is what “mobile optimization” means. On mobile devices we require buttons to show large enough to be able to click them, we need to see the picture tightly cropped and close up, and we expect to read the copy without having to scroll sideways. Remember that email is a tool to drive traffic to your website to purchase. If the email cannot be read on a mobile device, 80% of us are more likely to delete it than to save it to be opened on another device later. With people looking at their phones 50 times a day or more, there are multiple opportunities to capture their attention.

Paying attention to design in such a small space is critical to click through rates. While people are looking at their phones and therefore email more than ever, our attention spans are reduced. An email must be clear and concise while effectively communicating the desired message. As the old saying goes, a picture tells 1000 words. We recommend telling the story with images and a clear call to action rather than large amounts of copy.

Because emails are opened on a variety of platforms and devices, a responsive design is critical. Images should adjust to the size of the screen and copy should be limited to the most essential. The call to action must be clear and easy to see, with call to action buttons being the most effective.

Images must load quickly and be appropriate to be viewed on a mobile phone. Many of our clients wish to use full bottle shots in emails, but these do not view well on mobile phones. It is much better to use a tight beauty shot where the label can be clearly seen and read. We find that an image that combines the product, offer, and call to action that is clickable to be effective in increasing click through rates.

The mantra you’ll here now is “mobile-first”, which means focus on the small screen version of your email. If you do this, you’ll satisfy more than half of your viewers immediately and increase your responses to your communications.

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