Home » A Sense of Mobile – Responsive Template Design

A Sense of Mobile – Responsive Template Design

Lindsay Tjepkema
Lindsay Tjepkema , Global Head of Content , Emarsys

What is Responsive Email Design, You Ask?

Responsive email design is additional code that is embedded into the email HTML so it can respond or “sense” the screens that opens it, as well as make the email render differently on different-sized screens. When responsive design is applied to emails, it dramatically improves mobile click rates. While seen more and more with websites, when it come to emails, this approach is quite new and is lagging behind the rate of smartphone adoption.

So far, early adopters with knowledge and resources are using it in the custom HTML level, but ESPs are not yet embedding it into templates so it is not yet widely available and therefore beyond the reach of most digital marketers. Messaging today should be “recipient centric,” where the marketer should strive to message recipients with the most relevant content: according to interests, time zone, location, and the device(s) they are using.

Responsive design addresses the latter challenge – you cannot guess where and with what your user will open your email: it could be a desktop, a tablet, a mobile phone, or any other gadget. The difference between hitting the delete button and clicking a link is made within a few seconds, so have a template design that “senses” the device your recipients are using and adapts to it automatically.

The Challenge of Responsive Email Design

Conversions become a key challenge when it comes to responsive design. More and more users choose to consume messages on their mobile devices, rather than on their desktops. Typically the smaller the screen size is, the lower the conversions are. Here are a few reasons why:

  • The need to “pinch” to zoom in
  • Links are too small to hit on (hey, this is your call to action we’re talking about here!)
  • Desktop-optimized email campaigns contain too much information that makes it hard to fit to a mobile screen
  • There is not enough space between photos and HTML blocks
  • Font sizes are too small
  • The horizontal layout approach doesn’t fit mobile screens that use a vertical layout
  • Alignment of text (most mobile users uses their right hand to hold the device and click with their thumbs)

So, what is the solution here? It’s really a work in progress. Email marketers must constantly put themselves in the shoes of the customers, and think how email campaigns could work better in mobile.

Final Thoughts 

I have previously reviewed mobile email strategy and argued that you should be investing time, thoughts, and resources in ensuring that your mobile communications are geared and perfected for higher conversions from your mobile email campaigns. If you had to take one thing from this post, it should be that approaching mobile users differently is no longer nice to have; it’s a must-have approach.

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