Oxford University Press Takes B2B Newsletters To A New Mobile Level

[ 0 By


As part of our “25 Days of Inspirational Emails,” we’ve been asking our customers & followers to email us if they see any great emails that they think should be featured. When we received an inquiry (thanks for sending this over, Phil Singer!) to include this newsletter from the Oxford University Press, we were pretty impressed!

Oxford University full email


I find that many newsletters (especially in the publishing industry!) tend to be text-based and filled with LOTS of content. As a result of so much text, they are also very rarely mobile-friendly. That being said, when I realized Oxford University Press’s newsletter was responsive, I was both shocked and impressed!

Oxford University responsive email

Oxford University Press uses media queries to scale the email & increase the text size on mobile devices so that it is easy to read on smaller screens. However, the “And more…” section is nearly impossible to interact with on the small screen of a mobile device. Since it’s 5 text links on top of each other, a subscriber would need to do some serious zooming on their phone in order to click on the links.

Oxford University - zoom in on mobile


For the most part, B2B emails can be boring and not very visually appealing, so I was very pleased with the subtle, yet effective design of this email. While it’s not super sophisticated and full of intriguing imagery, it’s quietly successful.

For starters, the “S-curve” design of the email (which alternates text and image between the left and right sides of the email) follows subscribers’ typical reading patterns and encourages the reader to scroll down the email. Paired with the S-curve design, a good use of line-height and padding between stories creates organization, separates the articles/CTAs, and enables a proper amount of whitespace to be created.

In addition, I also liked their use of a subtle background color to highlight the main article — “Seven tips for successful case studies.” It definitely makes that article stand out from the rest of the text. However, I think Oxford University Press could use some help with their CTAs. While their teaser text is great, the CTAs are a little weak. I’d suggest A/B testing buttons, text colors & language on the CTA to see if they can make them pop a bit more on the email.

Lastly, I noticed that a combination of serif and sans-serif fonts were used in the body of the email. While a serif font was chosen for headlines, a sans-serif font in the body paragraphs provides a nice contrast that most people probably wouldn’t notice. Even though it’s a subtle effect, it definitely gives the headlines an extra boost to stand out on the email.


Another great attribute of the Oxford University Press’ newsletters is that they use live text, rather than text on images, so their newsletters are completely readable regardless of whether images are disabled or not. In addition, their use of background colors enables the hierarchy to be present even in an images-off environment.

Oxford University - images off

While the email (obviously) isn’t as visually appealing with images disabled, it still is completely readable due to the fact that the Oxford University Press uses live text and ALT text on their images. However, at some points, the ALT text is a little repetitive — especially in the body of the email since the ALT text is the same as the headings of the article.

In addition, since they are the same as the headers, some of the ALT text is extremely long. As Justine describes in her post, “The Ultimate Guide to Styled ALT Text,” in many email clients, ALT text will disappear once the length of the text exceeds the width and/or height of the image container. As a result, shorter descriptions are the best alternative so you can avoid having your ALT text removed altogether.


I’d love to hear your thoughts on this email! What do you like about it? Let me know!


Do you have an email that you’d like us to feature in our inspiration series? Send it to us at inspiration@litmus.com!