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A Giant (Finally) Adopts Mobile Friendly Emails

For the longest time, ESPN frustrated me as an online marketer. Let me count the ways:

  • They never seemed to sync up with their subscriber preference settings
  • Their mobile apps don’t understand what “no push notifications” means
  • Their website is a hot mess, news delivery for the attention-deficient
  • There seems to be a Twitter account for every employee and they all tweet too much

I could go on, but then I wouldn’t have time or word count to something ESPN finally decided to get right. Brace yourselves — ESPN has gone mobile-friendly.

It might seem trivial, but anyone who uses ESPN for fantasy sports — some 6.2 million users for football alone — surely has seen ESPN’s weekly newsletters in all their Web 1.0 glory.


ESPN's Old Newsletter
ESPN’s Old Newsletter


Despite its solid text-to-image ratio and generally clustered layout, one can’t help notice that, at a hefty 700+ pixels and seemingly infinite number of links stacked one on top of the other, the email is far from mobile-friendly. And what’s up with the lead-burying? Seems to me your weekly newsletter content should be above all of the “click-me, click-me” links and columns. That’s always bugged me about this template — it’s like five thumb scrolls before you get to the content that’s worth reading. And don’t even get me started on the 300×300 ESPN Insider ad.

Don’t get me wrong; there was nothing wrong with that template a few years ago when it was introduced. But it felt dated last summer, a full year before ESPN decided to shutter it in favor new, mobile friendly emails that leaves its predecessor in the dust.


ESPN's New Mobile Friendly Newsletter
ESPN’s New Mobile Friendly Newsletter


Look at that slim, responsive design. Look at the introduction of sharper borders and dividing lines. Look at the subtle advertising. Look at the relevant, above-the-fold content. Look at those easily clickable, easy-to-identify links. Even the amount of text is an improvement — the mobile-friendly version is far less daunting to read. Sure, the email is nearly twice as long as it used to be, but the white space that length created was much-needed. Honestly, it’ one of the best mobile-friendly email turnarounds I’ve ever seen.

What are your favorite mobile email templates? Who’ doing it right and who’s missing the mark?

About the Author: Harry Kaplowitz is the Deliverability Product Manager for iContact, an email and social marketing service of Vocus, a provider of cloud-based marketing and PR software. You can follow him on Twitter.

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