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Four Steps to Embracing Email Marketing In The Mobile Era

March 18, 2013 Digital Media Solutions

Adapt or die. That’s the adage that comes to mind when I think about email marketing today, thanks to the dramatic uptick in smartphone adoption over the past year—a trend that’s showing no signs of slowing.

Now that emails are rendering more often on mobile devices than on desktop apps or webmail, your old creative probably isn’t performing like it used to. Just ask the client we featured in last week’s case study, who saw a devastating 40 percent drop in click rates over eight months.

If you want to cash in on the impressive ROI you stand to generate with email marketing, you have to acclimate to the radical changes shaking up this powerful marketing channel. Here are some tips to get you started on a path to mobile email enlightenment.

Think mobile first.

Mobile email renders already outnumber marketing messages opened via desktop apps and webmail—and it won’t be long before they eclipse both desktop and webmail combined. We already see this happening. So face it—this mobile thing isn’t going away. Make the mobile experience a priority now instead of playing catch-up later.

Get acquainted with responsive design.

Media queries and scalable elements enable emails to adapt to their rendering environment. An understanding of these coding techniques—and how they respond to email environments—is essential to the development of today’s high-performance email. So get schooled. Stat.

But don’t get carried away with the possibilities that responsive design presents. Remember—less is always more. Simple templates that respond elegantly to their rendering environment are going to perform well—and give you a lot less headaches during testing.

Get comfortable with compromise.

Email design has always been difficult—but it’s tougher today than it’s ever been. While web browsers have adopted standards that offer some level of predictable consistency for websites, email clients offer no such luxury. And now that mobile email apps have been thrown into the mix, it’s safe to say that your email will never render exactly as you’d like 100 percent of the time.

Instead of striving for universal perfection, find out what email clients your audience is using and design for the majority. For instance, email designed to scale beautifully in the Gmail mobile app can look downright jacked up in Outlook 07. That’s a big problem if you’re a B2B marketer—but probably perfectly acceptable if your audience is a younger B2C demographic. Unless you have an abundance of resources, consider such concessions a necessary evil.

Get hip to the new best practices.

A few new rules apply to email today. But the bottom line is size matters—buttons and fonts get bigger while subject lines and from lines get smaller.

  • Accommodate fat, clumsy fingers with big, beefy, bulletproof HTML buttons for your calls to action. These should be a minimum of 44 x 44 pixels, with ample whitespace to prevent inadvertent clicks
  • Use sizable fonts when messages render on mobile. Experts commonly recommend 22-pixel headlines and 14-pixel copy.
  • Rethink Subject and From lines. Many recipients will only see the first 35 characters of your subject on mobile, so make the most of it. Be sure limit your from name to 25 characters for the same reason.

Prefer a more hands-off approach to your email marketing? DMS is here to help. Contact your DMS account manager or fill out this form to find out how DMS can help you convert more leads and achieve better retention rates with mobile-optimized email.

About the Author

Digital Media Solutions

Digital Media Solutions, LLC (DMS) is the leading global martech company leveraging innovative, performance-driven brand direct and marketplace solutions to connect consumers and advertisers. DMS deploys a robust database of consumer intelligence and leverages massive proprietary media distribution to provide customer acquisition campaigns that grow businesses. Continuing to experience explosive year-over-year growth, DMS has been continuously recognized on the Inc. 5000 list, securing its sixth consecutive ranking in 2019, and the Entrepreneur magazine 360 list. Earlier this year, DMS announced it is anticipating becoming a public company under a reverse merger deal with Leo Holdings Corp. Named one of America’s “Best Places to Work” by Inc. magazine and awarded the Excellence in Lead Generation Award by the LeadsCouncil, DMS brings together some of the industry’s most knowledgeable people, efficient processes and sophisticated technology across the digital marketing spectrum. For more information about DMS, visit Keep up with DMS news at and connect with us on LinkedIn at

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