• Sridhar Rajendran

Unsubscribed: Can people really read your emails?

Updated: Aug 23, 2018

Importance of readability on mobiles for newsletters

Ever had the feeling when you are squinting so hard on your mobile that your nose touches the screen? I have been close enough at least a couple of times. I wasn’t doing neck extensions but trying to read the damn mail.

Image credit: GIPHY

Most of the reading today is done on mobile devices. A lot has been written already about using responsive and adaptive layouts to render websites readable on mobile. While the situation is far from perfect, it is manageable; thanks to the Text-Only mode in Safari that lets me increase the font size. But this problem still exists while reading emails.

Email is still a strong medium for communication — be it marketing, email courses, influences or bloggers. A person’s online celebrity status depends on the size of their mailing list. MailChimp provides guidelines while creating newsletters aimed at mobile users.

Image credit : Mailchimp knowledge base
Example of bad readability
Email in GMail iOS app
Email in Mail app in iPhone

The image above (on the left) is a screenshot of the Gmail iOS app. It is a newsletter from James Altucher. While I enjoy reading his articles, I hate squinting to get the words right. I end up reading in landscape view or opening the website link in the browser. This introduces a lot of friction. Every newsletter marketer knows how important click-through rates are. There are instances when I end up not reading the mail and moving on. The same mail in the default Mail client in iPhone does a better job (image on the right).


This is not to single out James or any particular person. I am a fan of James :) In fact, a lot of newsletters have terrible readability on screen. Some like Jarrod Drysdale and David Kadavy do a really good job paying attention to the typography and font size. Jarrod’s a tad bit better with bigger font size. It is a welcome relief not having to squint while reading their mails. I guess being UX designers themselves, they must understand how users interact with their products.

Jarrod Drysale’s newsletter
David Kadavy’s newsletter
Suggestions
  • Find out the email clients through which majority of readers consumer the content. And use tools like Litmus to see how the mails would render on different platforms.

  • While the onus lies with the person crafting the newsletter, it would be nice if the email clients have some features to make the mails more readable. An option like Text-only mode in Gmail app would be a great addition.

  • When a user unsubscribes from a mailing list, usually these options are listed.

Image credit : Mailchimp knowledge base

I suggest adding a default option called “The mails are not readable on mobile” and then track how many users choose this option. I wish I had a mailing list to do test this feature but I am hoping people experiencing mass exodus from their mailing list would give this a shot.