responsive email design

While chatting with some – ahem – “experienced” colleagues at a recent digital marketing conference, we found ourselves reminiscing of the simpler times before social media, mobile marketing, real time bidding and, for that matter, anything digital. Sure it was simpler, I agreed, but so were consumers. Digital made consumers a whole lot smarter and much more demanding. It also shortened their attention spans to roughly goldfish levels – an average of 5-8 seconds. No pressure, marketers!

“It’s all about relevant and timely content.” We hear this all the time at conferences, in articles, ads and blog posts. And, yes, good content should be a priority for any organization. But what about the way that content is packaged, delivered and viewed? No matter how wonderful your content is, consumers aren’t going to read it if it’s not optimized for their screen. They don’t have to, because someone else is already delivering relevant and timely content in an elegant package that fits their needs. That someone else should be you.

With available technologies, marketers have no excuse for providing poor mobile experiences for their audience no matter the screen. The practice of adapting to any screen, known as “responsive design,” is slowly gaining momentum. While innovators and early adopters have already applied this design technique, it’s time for the majority to join in. If you think you still have plenty of time, take a look at the numbers.

According to Google, “The fastest path to mobile customers is through a mobile-friendly site. And, if your site offers a great mobile experience, users are more likely to make a purchase.” Seventy-four percent of people say that when they visit a mobile-friendly site they’re more likely to return to that site in the future. Another 67% of mobile users say they’re more likely to buy a product or service from a mobile-friendly site. A poor mobile web experience can frustrate users and leave a lasting, negative, impression about your brand. Another Google study last year on the impact mobile-friendly and mobile-unfriendly sites have on visitors revealed that 48% of consumers say they feel frustrated and annoyed when they get to a site that isn’t mobile-optimized. Another 52% said that a bad mobile experience made them less likely to engage with a company. You can lose more than just the sale with a bad mobile experience.

Aside from mobile web browsing, mobile search adoption is quickly increasing. A report published by eMarketer in April predicts that the volume of mobile local search queries in the U.S. could surpass desktop search by 2015. We are less than two years from that mark. If your website, web advertising, and email for mobile devices are not yet mobile-optimized, you had best be getting to it. If not, you risk alienating your audience, losing out to your competitors and facing potential irrelevancy.

Irrelevant? That’s kryptonite, in marketing-speak.

Responsive Email Design

Responsive design is not just for websites, either. As of summer 2013, almost 50% of emails are opened on a mobile device in Canada. Take a moment now and go through some of your emails from brands/organizations on your smartphone. How many messages are optimized for mobile? I’m guessing not many. Now check the landing pages you’re directed to if/when you tap a link. One argument for not adopting responsive design now is that consumers will open email on their phone to quickly browse and then open it later on the computer. This is not true. According to MarketingProfs, in the second half of 2012, only 0.07% of emails opened on a mobile device were again opened on another device. You get one chance, period.

An even more compelling reason to make your emails responsive is improved metrics. In a recent test run by Inbox Marketer for a national insurance client, a responsive email newsletter was introduced and resulted in 15% lift in opens and a 42% lift in clicks on mobile devices compared to the previous three-month average. In a second responsive email test with a national bank, clicks on a mobile device increased by 127% over the previous month. Savvy digital marketers know that more clicks mean more money. How much are you leaving on the table?

The simpler days of desktop-friendly websites and emails are gone. Consumers will continue to spend more and more time on their mobile devices and their expectations will only increase. Adopting responsive design to your website and digital communications isn’t difficult and the ROI can be immediate. You only get one chance to capture your audience’s attention and engage them. Do it right the first time.

About the Author

TJ Rosenberg is a digital marketing professional with 10+ years of experience in Marketing, Sales, Client Services, Production and Graphics on both client and agency side. In his role as Marketing Manager, he is responsible for all marketing activities for Inbox Marketer, a leading digital messaging firm out of Toronto and Guelph, Ontario, Canada. He contributes regularly to Inbox Marketer’s content marketing and has been published by Email Audience.