You’ve heard this before – be sure to create text only versions of all email campaigns because, inevitably, some recipients’ email clients won’t support HTML. This means that recipients can’t download images or click on links, so all they have access to is the email text.

Many of those email clients that don’t support HTML are mobile-based – people occasionally check their emails in between texts and games of Candy Crush. According to comScore, the number of people opening and engaging emails on their smartphones and tablets is skyrocketing:

Numbers like that can’t be ignored and we can no longer design emails that only look good on a computer screen.

However, you don’t have to have mobile-optimized email designers to take advantage of this opportunity. Traditional design programs can be manipulated for mobile viewing. Chances are, if the email reads well on a smartphone it will also look sleek on desktops/laptops. During the design process keep mobile-viewers at the front of your mind:

  1. Design in a single-column: Smartphones, and even tablets, are narrow. Multiple columns look squished and are difficult to read, so recipients end up zooming and scrolling around a magnified version of your message.
    • You can still include multiple calls to action across one column. Try a banner or image at the top with additional hyperlinks throughout the email body.
    • This design easily translates to computer screens as well. Your content will, of course, be wider across the screen, but won’t appear distorted.
  2. Avoid too-small fonts: Once again, we want to eliminate unnecessary zooming and scrolling. Too often, marketers design mobile-based emails in smaller fonts, so they can cram in as much content as possible.
    • Don’t include fonts smaller than 12pt and headlines should be larger than the body to break up your content.
    • Instead, cut down content, as long as your calls to action stay put and the message you’re conveying isn’t compromised.
  3. Write a simple subject line: On mobile devices, you have even less time to catch a recipient’s attention with a subject line. Keep it simple and direct with a question or declaration creating a sense of urgency around your topic.
    • Include your company name in the subject so recipients instantly recognize the sender and are inclined to open it.
    • Try including your company name at the beginning in [brackets], this way it doesn’t interrupt the flow of your message.

All marketers need to design for mobile viewers because the number of mobile-based email interactions will only continue to rise. It’s actually easier for mobile-designed emails to translate to desktops/laptops than the other way around. Clean and simple designs often have higher open and click through rates than overcomplicated emails with flashing banners and dancing GIFs.