Inbound Marketing

It’s a tough world out there for email marketing. Inboxes are cluttered with hundreds of coupons, weekend promotions and how-to guides for better managing the deluge of emails (an email you may never get to when you have hundreds of unread emails to still go through. Irony!).  

And, it certainly doesn’t help marketers that we live in an era of short attention spans, where a well-crafted subject line could mean the difference between sky-high and abysmal email open rates.

According to a 2015 survey of 2,000 Canadian participants, the average human attention span is 8 seconds, down from 12 seconds in 2000 and shorter than a goldfish’s 9 seconds. This means that the first impression your email makes isn’t just an ingredient for captivating potential leads; it’s the entire recipe.

How can your company cut through the clutter and make your marketing emails stand out in a crowded inbox? You can dramatically improve your email response rates by ensuring they’re optimized for mobile.

The email game has changed, and the name of the game is mobile. Over 50% of emails (54%, as of May 2016) are opened on mobile devices. Not terribly surprising, as everywhere you go, people are attached to their phones sending Snapchats, texting and playing Pokémon Go.

With so many consumers checking their smartphones and tablets all day, every day, it’s more important than ever that your marketing emails are optimized for multiple screen sizes. Here are 4 ways your company can create responsive email designs and make your emails more mobile-friendly.

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1) Watch Your Subject Line Length

You create a stunning email. You design a compelling call-to-action pointing to your brand new white paper or case study. But what’s the point of all that work if no one even opens your emails?

This is what it all boils down to. If you want your prospects and customers to open your emails (and why wouldn’t you?), you need to write a subject line and preview text optimized for mobile displays.  

An average subject line runs about 41-50 characters. But, how many of those characters do your subscribers actually see? Well, it depends.

There’s no one-size-fits-all subject line length. Different mobile devices and email clients show a different number of characters. Not to mention, the character count changes as users switch from a vertical to a horizontal display.

Take a closer look at your subscriber base before you determine the best subject line length. Are most of your subscribers opening emails on their smartphone or computer? What email clients are they using?

If you use an email marketing tool (and we highly recommend doing so), you should be able to find this information in your email reports. You should also have access to your email performance rates. Use these to see which subject lines resulted in higher open rates.

While open rates can depend on a range of factors (time of day, current deals, copy, etc.), they can give you crucial insight into the best subject line length for your marketing efforts. For example, if you see shorter subject lines perform consistently better than longer subject lines, you may want to stick to short and catchy subject lines.

2) Stop Neglecting Your Preheader Text

You have about 3-4 seconds to capture your subscriber’s attention. Luckily, your preheader text gives you another chance to engage with subscribers.

The preheader text is displayed right below the subject line. Your preheader text should work with your subject line to entice the reader and convince them to click.

If the subject line is Batman, then the preheader text is your Robin. If the subject line is your Sherlock Holmes, then the preheader text is your Watson. If the subject line is…well, you get the idea.

Preheader text allows you to provide some context to your subject line while keeping the subject short, sweet and to the point. Your preheader text should add value to your email, rather than just restating the subject line. Draw attention to your emails by including a strong call-to-action in your preheader text and creating a sense of urgency.

Avoid writing a novel, though. Keep your preheader text clear and concise. Like your subject line, you only have so much room to work with. The length varies depending on the email client and device.

Gmail shows about 100 characters for both the subject line AND the preheader text, and an iPhone displays about 140 characters regardless of subject line length. To be safe, keep your preheader text somewhere between 75 and 100 characters.

3) Slash Email Loading Times

You’ve convinced your email subscribers to open your email with a powerful subject line and preheader text, but your job isn’t over yet. Now, you have to make sure they stick around long enough to read your email copy and schedule that consultation or register for your webinar.

According to Kissmetrics, content with compelling images receives 94% more views than content without images. People are wired to respond to visuals. Visual content gets shared three times more than non-visual content across social channels.

But, if your images are clunky, you could see a significant drop in loading time. And slow loading times can kill your email performance rates. A 1-second delay can decrease customer satisfaction by about 16%, and 40% abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.

Speed up your email loading times by reducing image sizes. Services like FastStone Photo Resizer and JPEGmini can reduce image sizes by as much as 80% without impacting image quality. You’ll never send an email with a broken or slow-loading image again.

4) Create a “Touch-Friendly” Design

Are your subscribers tapping a large, easy-to-read CTA or hulk-smashing their finger against a tiny button? The end goal of your marketing emails is to guide your readers to the next step of the buyer’s journey using calls-to-action they can’t help but click.

If your CTA is too small, it may go unnoticed and get lost in the email copy. Or it may be too small for precise clicking. That’s why it’s important to optimize your calls-to-action and links for tap-ability.

Design a CTA that’s easy to click and catches the eye. We recommend making your CTAs at least 57 pixels square. It should be obvious that the CTA is meant to be clicked.

Now, we’re not saying you should use neon colors or flashing CTAs, but keep your calls-to-action front and center and test out snazzy button shapes. Use A/B testing to try out different shapes and sizes and see what’s most effective.

Also, make sure there is plenty of white space between your links and CTAs. There’s nothing more frustrating than attempting to click one CTA and getting another.


You invest a significant amount of time and effort into your email marketing. Make sure your campaign has a fighting chance by optimizing your emails for mobile devices. You’ll send beautiful, responsive emails designed to supercharge your lead generation and conversions.


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Topics:   Inbound Marketing

Lisa McDermott

In life I crave relationships and honest connections with people – I use this unwavering need for human interaction to make Stratus Interactive a strong, growing and culture-focused agency. When I see an opportunity to educate, guide or solve, my strategic wheels start turning- challenge accepted. New business development and account strategy are my two areas of focus and I’ll go to my grave undecided on which I love more! The feeling of helping a prospect understand how we can solve their pain and problems and make them successful is beyond-fulfilling, but then again, the feeling of collaborating on a strategic plan and seeing it produce measurable results is a thrill all its own. I’m so grateful to work for an agency like Stratus that allows my individual and professional strengths to thrive instead of having to choose between these two great loves! Besides my Stratus life, I have one husband, one dog, one toddler and one bun in the oven (due 2016!). I’m a wine enthusiast (as in I love drinking wine), not-so-mildly-obsessive photo-taker and photo-album maker, and I get abnormally excited about grey, cloudy days. I hope I have a chance to build a relationship with you sometime soon – feel free to call, social or email me anytime! See all Lisa McDermott's posts.

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