3 Tips to Improve Your Tablet Email Design

You know how important it is to design emails for mobile devices.¬†But “mobile” doesn’t just mean optimizing email design for smartphones; tablet email design is just as important.

A recent report from MediaPost Mobile-First? Don’t Write Off The Tablet reminds us that, indeed, there is a distinction to be made between the two devices. The fact is, we don’t use tablets the same way we use smartphones. And, it’s¬†likely that a sizable portion of your subscriber list reads email on their tablets, so it’s time to brush¬†up on how to design emails better for¬†table view.

tablet email design

Tablet vs. Smartphone: What’s the difference?

While tablets are mobile devices, they aren’t the same as smartphones. MediaPost¬†points out two important distinctions between tablets and other devices:

  • Tablets are not actually used in a very “mobile” capacity‚ÄĒthey’re typically used at home, where people are more task-oriented.
  • Tablet screens are more like desktops‚ÄĒcontent is consumed on a wider, larger landscape screen.

In other words, tablets act as smaller, slimmer¬†laptops, and they’re used on the couch, at the dining room table, or in the kitchen. The takeaway? “If you can point mobile email marketing campaigns to very clear, easy-to-follow prompts to allow simple tasks to be completed, you will have more success,” MediaPost says. “If you can tell somebody is on a tablet, they are more open to content consumption and research and getting slightly more complex tasks completed. There is a subtle difference there, but it’s one that’s worth exploring.”

We did a little more digging to understand how tablets are used. Here are a few important takeaways.

Conversion rates on tablets are higher than on smartphones

According to Appticles, conversion rates are still the highest offline, with 82% of customers choosing to purchase in-store, with 45% on home desktop or tablet and 17% on mobile phone. In other words: readers using tablet may be more likely to make a purchase via email than those using a smartphone.

tablet email design - conversion rates by device type

Search Engine Watch also cited similar findings via a report by xAd, Telmetrics, and Nielsen. Twenty-eight percent of mobile purchases are made via tablet, vs. 16% via smartphone.

tablet email design - method of mobile purchase

Users engage in more reading and watching on tablets

Not surprisingly, tablet users are more likely to be found reading or watching content on their devices, according to research by ExactTarget. The data suggests¬†that tablet owners may “view their devices more as entertainment hubs, while smartphone owners are more likely to use them as information sources.”

tablet email design - daily activities on smartphone and tablets

What does all this mean for email design? Read on.

An important note: the value of segmentation

Before we go further, it’s important to note that UK readers are much more likely to read email on tablets than their US counterparts. Mediapost reports that a massive 25% of emails are opened on tablets in the UK, compared to¬†15% in the US.

In other words, if you’re thinking: all this information about tablet use is great, but does it apply to my list? The answer may¬†depend on the location of your reader base. It’s so important to be strategic when collecting information about your readers so that you can segment send lists. That way, if you know a high portion of your readers are UK-based, you can design a tablet-optimized email versions for that group and test the results. Read more about segmentation here.


So what does all this mean for tablet email design?

Given what we know about tablet usage, we can make some inferences about how to best tailor email design for tablet reading. While there¬†isn’t a magic formula, here are some valuable considerations to make in your tablet email design.

Tip #1: Make purchases easy (with live shopping carts and/or great CTA buttons)

We know that tablet users may be more likely to make a purchase on their device compared to smartphone users. So, as email designers, we can make sure an email’s add-to-cart or purchase process is seamless.

As we noted in our guide to email interactivity post, image carousels and product tours in emails allow readers to tap on images and buttons to get more information. Instead of waiting for a landing page to load, readers have exploratory power at their fingertips. This kind of in-email browsing may have the potential to go a lot further on tablets than on smart devices.

Here’s an example of in-email photo browsing from Rebelmail:

Rebelmail tablet email design

Even though tablet screens are bigger than smartphone screens, buttons must still be designed to be tapped with a finger. So to get those conversions rolling, make sure your CTA buttons are bulletproof, pass the squint test, and have action-oriented text! Oh, and optimize the color, too.

Tip #2: Get interactive with your content

Because tablet users seem more likely to spend time with your content than smartphone readers, you have an opportunity to get interactive. This may mean making email browsing easier with a hamburger menu, which Nordstrom offers in an email:

Nordstrom tablet email designNordstrom tablet email design

Or, it may mean offering different types of content, like an in-email video. With Apple’s launch of iOS 10 last fall, HTML5 video can be viewed on iPad and iOS Mail, playing within the email.

For brands with blogs or newsletters, you could also consider providing more content directly in email. For content-rich emails, you can improve navigability by including¬†anchor links¬†and by following newsletter design best practices. And, your content doesn’t have to be strictly text-based. Longer emails could also include responsive photo galleries¬†or in-email surveys. Get creative!

Tip #3: Apply mobile-optimization best practices

While readers may treat tablets more like laptops than smartphones, emails still perform best on tablets when they’re mobile-optimized. This means you should still be mindful of the best practices for mobile email design:

  • Single column layout
  • Large-sized, easy-to-read content
  • Minimalistic design (no complex headers, no clutter)
  • Tap-friendly navigation and bulletproof buttons (with appropriate padding)
  • Smaller image file sizes (allowing for quicker load times)
  • High-contrast design for mobile screens set to low brightness
  • A mix of text and images (avoid using only images in emails, and make sure to use great ALT text description)

Design your tablet-ready email and go Pro!

Have you ever designed an email campaign specifically for tablet readers? Let us know the considerations you made. Lucky for us, all emails created in the BEE editor are always 100% responsive, making it a great¬†platform for tablet-focused design. You don’t even need to know HTML! Learn more and sign up for a BEE Pro free trial.

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