Email & SMS

6 Proven Email Design Best Practices for Mobile

Get ahead of the competition with these 6 proven mobile email design best practices. Maximize engagement and boost your email marketing performance.



Currently, about 43% of all emails are accessed via a mobile device, making it the most popular environment for reading emails. If you aren’t already designing emails to be mobile-friendly, you’re basically ruining your chances of increased visibility and engagement. Here at Patch, we are of the opinion that everyone should adopt a design for mobile first, then desktop mindset when it comes to email campaigns.

Designing email for mobile is not always an easy task. So we’ve gathered our top best practices that will enable you to optimize your email designs for mobile. So let’s get started.



Go big or go home! Or, just enlarge your fonts. 

Emails should always be built with larger fonts for mobile. Anywhere from 2-3 points larger than what is needed for desktop. Small text on a mobile can be a complete hindrance to the readability of your emails. At Patch, we recommend our clients try and keep their headline fonts between 20-26px and the body font between 14-18px. Don’t get too crazy and make your fonts unnaturally gigantic, if you do you might end up drawing the wrath of spam filters. 

Who said two is better than one? Not Your Email On Mobile!

When it comes to layout try sticking to single-column design choices. Although multiple-column layouts and sidebars look great when it comes to designing emails for desktops, the compass points without question toward a single-column layout in the case of mobile. Using multiple columns can be a tad risky. It can inevitably lead to awkward stacking, columns that overlap, text that overflows, images that can shift around, and a whole lot of other rendering issues.

On a different note using a single-column layout can help with the presentability and readability of your emails across varying mobile devices. This allows you to drive interaction and engagement which ultimately will always lead to higher conversion rates. Single columns can also allow you to highlight important parts of your content.

Ever heard of the ‘KISS’ principle? Subject lines should be simple and direct.

Does your email design even matter if no one opens your email? Unfortunately no, if your emails are never opened all of the work you put into the content and design means nothing. 

Optimizing subject lines and inbox previews is crucial to the success of your campaigns.

The subject line and inbox preview are the first things that your audience notices about your emails. It is vital to the success of your campaign that you optimize these items to enchant the attention of your email users effectively, especially on mobile. 

On desktop, most providers show subject lines up to about 60 characters, on mobile you only get about 25-30 which is where this can get a little tricky. Short, concise, and enticing subject lines will have a major impact on open rates. Then once you’re in, you just gotta keep them engaged! 

Lost without a direction. What do you want your audience to do once they open your email?

A CTA (Call-to-Action) button is refutably the most important part of an email. This is why its placement and appearance should be well thought through while designing your email, especially a mobile-friendly one.

Placement, placement, placement! Firstly the most ideal position for a CTA button is above the fold, just below your hero image and the user should not have to scroll for it to be visible. This will give you the highest probability of being noticed. However, just one CTA in the header won’t suffice. Strategically think about where you need to place secondary CTAs throughout the rest of your email.

Now that we know we need multiple CTAs, let’s talk about the appearance of your CTA. Let’s start with size. Keeping in mind that the average human finger occupies a region of approximately 45-55 pixels of the screen surface area, the dimensions of your CTA should be around 45x45px. Next color. Choose a shade that contrasts nicely against your email background for greater visibility but doesn’t clash with your brand.

A picture is worth a thousand words. Well in an Email this is twofold.

Most mobile clients (Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, etc.) block images by default. Use caution when incorporating images in your emails. Ensure that the images you use carry no important information that if not included would defeat the purpose of your campaign. Always, always add ALT text for every image. The images you do use should exist ideally to complement your email content not be the headliner. Quality is key. Make sure all the images in your email are of exceptional quality. However, loading can be an issue so you don’t want to have too many images in your email, and the ones you do include you want to optimize them. Using JPG and PNG formats tends to be easier in this regard. Load times aside using too many images will skew your image-to-text ratio as well. Try to maintain a balance of 80% images to 20% text. Failure to do so will trigger spam filters and affect your deliverability.

One size fits all doesn’t work in email. Not everything in your email is meant for all devices.

Dynamic content is a great tool when trying to follow all of the rules of Email Design when it comes to mobile. The ability to hide certain layouts or pieces of content on Mobile or Desktop gives you greater flexibility and allows for more creativity. Most email builders will allow you to easily toggle whether certain elements in your email will display based on the device the end-user is using. Patch’s Email Builder not only allows you to hide on desktop or mobile, but you can also choose whether certain content shows based on different types of data you have available for your audience. A quick example is setting a rule to show a certain image if the end-user is Male vs. Female, allowing you to send the same email to everyone but still have the content customized based on user preferences. 

This list of top best practices should help you get started designing email campaigns for your mobile users on the most common issues we have seen. The tips provided are simple, yet highly effective. Looking for a new Email Builder? Get in touch with our team for a free demo and see all that Patch Retention has to offer.

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