It’s all about being what is considered “skimmable” – someone should be able to read your email while scrolling at a normal speed and get all of the major points. You’ve got about 3 seconds to grab a reader’s attention before they move on, so make good use of it with succinct copy, relevant content, and lots of highly breathable white space.
How to Write for Mobile Audiences
Think about the last article or blog you read on your mobile device. Was it one long article that felt like it would never end? Or did it have clear headings, interesting images, and lots of bullet points?
If you happened to click on to the article that was simple paragraph after paragraph, you probably didn’t read until the end -- and if you did, you likely missed many of the main points.
Where as the article broken out with headings, images, and bullet points can get the important information to you without having to read every line word by word.
That’s the importance of writing for mobile. If you want readers to not only read, but understand the content you are sharing with them, it has to be quick and easy to consume. Now that mobile usage is higher than desktop, writing mobile friendly content is more important than ever.
The number of mobile users continues to grow every year and isn’t expected to slow down. Mobile content will eventually be the norm and writing for desktops will become a secondary thought.
Knowing that mobile isn’t a trending fad, but the way of the future, let’s take a look at five ways you can improve your writing for mobile readers.
#1: Channel Joey Gladstone and cut it out.
The biggest difference between a desktop email and a mobile email is the amount of room you have to work with. Because the device width is smaller, you have to be even more fierce with your editing. Every word counts, so if it’s fluffy or unnecessary, get rid of it.
Designing emails for desktop versus mobile is a very different experience. This example shows two totally different looking emails, but they are designed so that if someone opens it on a desktop they can see the entire graphic in one location, while mobile users will see a stacked version.
The goal with mobile-friendly email design (and just good marketing design, period) is to be easily digested and understood. Be skimmable (despite what your high school English teacher said, sentence fragments are allowed), use active speech, and tell your customers to click through for full details (which should live on your landing page).
This is a prime example of short and sweet copy used in a gorgeous design. Whether the subscriber opens this on a desktop or mobile device, the content will be spot on and the imagery is eye-catching.
#2: Make a plan (and stick to it).
Before you start designing, decide exactly what you want to address (i.e., make a content hierarchy) and be ruthless with yourself if you start deviating.
Developing a content hierarchy early on will help you clearly identify the most important information. From there, you know what the main focus of your content is and what content becomes secondary.
For example, let’s say that an email is dropping on a Friday morning and there is a TGIF sale planned, an in-store event on Sunday, tons of clearance merchandise that needs to move, and a slew of new products arriving on Tuesday.
As tempting as it may seem to pack all of this into one email, it doesn’t make sense . Think about it this way… you just got a brand new pint of Chunky Monkey. You know you could dive-in face-first and house the entire thing directly from the container, but should you? Clearly not. As delicious a choice as that would be, do the right thing: go get a bowl and decide how much you really need.
So in our scenario, we need to figure out how much our readers need in one sitting. What’s the most important thing we absolutely need to get across right now? We’d say the TGIF sale, and because it’s so timely and important, it’s totally OK to stop there and call it a day. Sending an email out with just one thing that’s compelling and relevant is a great idea.
But, if you really want more, it would be OK to add just one more thing, so let’s determine what’s number two.
Depending on whether or not this is the last email of the weekend, we’re going to say it’s either the in-store event or the clearance goodies. Now let's stop there and make the email with just these 2 things. Give the number one priority a ton of real estate to really hype it up, put number two below that, and then stop designing.
This brand chose to say just one thing (aside from their permanent social content) and it's marvelous. Emails like this tell you exactly what the action you should take is and where to go next. There’s no confusion on what you should do from here.
This email literally tells you what the top story is (not that they had to since they made it front and center) and makes everything else secondary. If you are going to use more than one main idea, this is a great way to do it. While there are multiple calls to action, the first one is very clearly the main path.
#3: Images are your BFF.
People process images 60,000x faster than they read words (it’s science), so lean heavily on them to create an emotional connection and tell your story in far fewer words. Lifestyle images (those that feature people in real-life situations) tend to be the most emotionally grabby, but also try playing around with iconography to save space and create visual interest.
This is an example of an email with two bits of content in this email, each with a perfectly chosen image. Although both seem to be evenly promoted, they both offer a clear call to actions and it is easy to distinguish the two promotions from each other.
Without all the images, this email would be very dry and copy-heavy. Adding product images and photography in a zig-zag layout adds visual interest and makes it feel lighter.
This brand eliminated a lot of excess words from its design just by adding icons. Sentence fragments for the win!
#4 Use social proof.
Your customers are on their phones constantly, so use the opportunity to weave user-generated social media content into your emails. If you’re fortunate enough to have customers who post pictures of your products, that is pure gold. Incorporating their images along with your own content will make for a much more compelling message, and you get the added bonus of acquiring a few new followers.
Social images are like product images and product reviews in one -- a double-whammy of "you should totally buy this, see how great it is?!" User-generated content helps others feel like the content is less promotional and more relatable. Using social images is the perfect way to make this happen.
#5 Be clickworthy & clickable.
So by now, your email should be the right length, feature interesting images, and include relevant social proof. There’s just one more thing you need: calls to action.
Call-to-action buttons (or CTAs if you want to get all jargony) are incredibly important on mobile emails, and you need to make sure they’re big enough to be tapped. There’s nothing worse than tapping the wrong link, so 40px is the smallest dimension you want to be working with on mobile devices. If your CTA is within a larger image, make sure that when it scales down, it’s still big enough to tap comfortably.
You should also play around with phrasing. “Shop Now” can work well and is very traditional, but it’s certainly overdone. We encourage you to be creative and have as much fun as your brand allows.
All CTAs are sufficiently large, even the one that's over top of an image, and the copy is just spicy enough to make you want to click. Your CTA should let the customer know what their next action should be and should align with your goals.
This brand clearly knows their customer base. "Shop Newness" is a perfect little tweak on "Shop Now" that adds some personality.The are big enough to tap and well placed so that people see them and know where to click to go to the next step.
Know What Content Your Customers Want
Ultimately, you just have to know your customers. How old are they? What are their habits? Are they natural-born scrollers or is their attention span super quick?
Take the time to test your content, timing, and the amount of content your subscribers want to receive. It takes time to get email marketing right, and even then things are changing every day -- and you need to change with them. Never stop refining your email marketing strategy and improving both desktop and mobile design.