Why I don't design my e-mails for mobile

Dear Direct Response Letter Subscriber:

Every once in a while, I get a subscriber taking me to task for not formatting these e-mails for the subscriber’s mobile devices.

I was going to write an essay explaining why I don't format my e-mails for mobile when, a couple of weeks ago, I got an online article from copywriter Ben Settle on why HE doesn't create versions of his e-mails for mobile.

I asked him for permission to share the article with you, and he graciously agreed, so take it away, Ben... and by the way, I agree with all that Ben says below...

Why I Don't Do Mobile E-Mails
By Ben Settle

Let's see if I can't rattle the advertising critics...

One of the things I sometimes catch "flack" for is, I don't spend the time each day to format my e-mails for smart phones. Now, admittedly, I don't do this because I'm a big believer in the Dan Kennedyism:

"Money is attracted to speed"

There's also some "A pile" mail mentality going on, too.

And, probably, some good, ol American laziness at work.

But guess what?

There could be a profitable reason for this.

Here's what I mean:

My personal opinion of e-mails not formatted for phones is "who cares?" When I am reading them on my phone, I couldn't care less.

In fact, I think they are easier to read. Maybe it's the high contrast (something I write about often in "Email Players" is how powerful contrast is in e-mails). Or that some lines are so short it's harder not to read them than it is to read them.

Or, maybe, I just like sticking it to the advertising critics, spelling Nazis, and grammar gargoyles who are the only ones who ever complain. (I have never once heard a complaint in another market -- just when writing to writers, copywriters, and advertising people.)

I've also done some informal research on this.

You know... asking friends, etc.

i.e. People who are not trying to be advertising critics.

You know what they all say?

It's ugly... but easier to read.

I even asked someone who is a huge "stickler" for formatting (it almost physically hurts her to see crappy formatting).

She said even though my e-mails are butt ugly, she loves them like this because they are easier to read due to all the short lines, etc. (i.e. contrast).

Plus, to make matters even worse:

A lot of people use HTML tables that are way too wide.

On even a bigger screen like my phone, I have to swipe over to read an entire sentence, then swipe back for each single sentence.

And what may read fine on one person's phone could be way too wide for someone else's.

Not so with my beat-with-the-ugly-stick emails.


It goes beyond contrast and tables.

The great late copywriter Eugene Schwartz once said:

"The ugly thing in a world of beauty stands out."

Gene was no dummy.

He was one of the best of the best copywriters.

A true "A-lister" (during a time when there were only 3 or 4).

He was also a HUGE fan of ugly layouts.

The uglier, the better.

The more random, the better.


Because they stood out. And what stands out is more likely to get noticed. And what's noticed is more likely to be bought from.

(Assuming your copy is good...)

Hey, don't believe me?

Well, good.

You shouldn't.

You should try these things out yourself.

But, now you know why I don't obsess over formatting.

Ben Settle

Bob here again.

For more about Ben, check out his web site:


And notice how easy Ben's e-mail above is to read.


Bob Bly is a freelance copywriter with 20 years experience in business-to-business and direct marketing. He has written direct mail packages for Phillips Publishing, Agora Publishing, KCI Communications, McGraw-Hill, Medical Economics, Reed Reference Publishing, A.F. Lewis, and numerous other publishers.