The “One Column Email” formula

Now we enter the “how to make your email mobile-friendly” part of the module.

Like I said before, we are going to ignore all the fancy terminology and technical mumbo jumbo, because we’re not here to become email design experts.

One of the main reasons an email will not displayed correctly on mobile is the use multiple columns. Let’s see a couple of examples:

Multiple columns

Here is another one:

Multiple columns

Just so you know, I’m trying to post these images as close to the real size as possible.

I think we can all agree that both campaigns shown above:

  • Look broken
  • Everything looks smashed together
  • It’s not ideal to read
  • The font is too small

The solution, as most advanced email designer would say, is to make your email responsive. As you can see in the image below, the content and the layout nicely adapt to fit the screen. But, as we mentioned earlier, only 47% of email clients support responsive design.

Responsive email

Responsive templates

How about using responsive design templates offered by the ESPs?

Again, just because it’s being offered by your ESP doesn’t mean it is supported by email clients. I did a test in this video so you can see what I mean.

Also, look at the final product on the image right below the video.

And here is how it looks on the actual email client on the device.

Responsive design template test

Can you even read what the email says? I rest my case…

The “One Column” formula

One of the easiest things you can do for your email to become mobile-friendly is to use the “One Column” formula.

The advantages of using a one column layout are:

  • You won’t have to worry about how your email adapts to the small screen, it will adapt on its own
  • You don’t need to rely on a responsive design because you don’t need the layout to adapt from multiple columns to one
  • You can easily create a one column email on any ESP editor without any help


The only disadvantage is that you will able to fit less content above the fold. If you have a call-to-action, it will most like end up below the fold. Now, the user will have to scroll down to see it.

But, there are 2 reasons I’d still recommend using the one column layout (besides the fact that it will probably break on some email clients):

  • Going with a two-column layout means the content will have to be smaller and will make it harder for the user to read
  • People are used to scrolling. If they don’t, I tend to attribute that to not being interested rather than not wanting to scroll down

The one column layout is more aligned with what we know as “mobile-first” experience. You optimize for mobile, because you know it will look good on desktop too.

Let’s look at some examples of one-column designs:

From Zapier:

Zapier one column layout

From Invision:

Invision one column design

This is from an early email of this course, so you can see a text-heavy campaign.

SocialMouths one column design

How to create a 1-column layout

Like I said before, this is pretty easy stuff. In this video, I show you how to work on a 1-column layout:

First, here is a side-by-side comparison of the template I showed you at the beginning of the video:

Side-by-side Aweber template

And this is the final product of my one-column email on 3 different apps: Apple Mail, Gmail and Mailbox.

SocialMouths email - Mobile

Although there are minor differences, the mission of delivering the same experience for all subscribers is accomplished.


Are you ready to send your next campaign? If so, let’s make it a 1-column…

  1. Figure out what you need to do in the editor from your ESP. If it’s Mailchimp go with a single column, which is the first option, if it’s Aweber just go with “Plain” template
  2. Build you campaign by stacking up your elements. Never try to position two elements in one row
  3. Preview and test your campaign
  4. Open it on as many apps as you can. Right I have Apple Mail, Gmail and Mailbox on my iPhone

We’ll talk more about steps 3 and 4 ahead in the module.