Lisi Powers
Creative Copywriter
&
Frequent Flyer
October 3, 2013
285
Using Email HTML for Responsive Email Design

Plenty of businesses already utilize email blast campaigns to expand their reach and share information with consumers, but how many of these blasts use email HTML to be designed responsively? If you’re not familiar with responsive email design, you better lock into what we have for you, because the success of your campaigns depends on it!

According to Litmus, an email analytics company, in their study of over 250 million emails opened worldwide, 47% of them were read on mobile devices. Not only does that indicate that mobile platforms are breaking ground in the way we consume information, but it also illustrates how much we’ve adapted to media consumption on the go.

Due to the increasing popularity of responsive web design, consumers have come to expect the information that they access on their mobile devices to be just as easy to read on a smaller screens. Additionally, they expect this information to seamlessly transition from its traditional format to one that jives with touch interfaces. Mobile media consumption is about the experience, and email campaigns are not exempt from this necessary evolution.

The bottom line in any marketing campaign is making a big impact with a great ROI, but in order to ensure that those things happen, you need to preemptively address potential bumps in the road. If your email campaign doesn’t look good on a mobile device, many people are likely to delete it without ever even trying to read it. If your email campaign isn’t properly formatted for a mobile device, while it’s sometimes possible to read, the text winds up incredibly small, which usually ends in your message being missed. With a responsive design made possible with email HTML, everything you intend to communicate will be done so loud and clear, in an aesthetically pleasing, adaptive display.

So now the question is, “What exactly is involved in responsive email design?” The easiest way to answer this is to compare it to traditional emails, which are usually formatted into fixed-width structures, with multiple images and paragraphs of text. Using email HTML and CSS coding, responsively designed emails identify the device viewport size, and display content according to those dimensions, omitting certain elements that aren’t appropriate for smaller screen sizes, so that the most important information is easily accessible.

With responsive design, an email that originally is structured with several paragraphs of text can be modified to hide those paragraphs and replace them with shorter messages and call to action buttons when viewed on a mobile device. Content is important to responsive email design as well–effective responsive emails are written with careful attention to each word chosen, so that when your message is condensed for optimization, the point of the message is still made.

In order to effectively craft a mobile-ready email campaign, you need to write with mobile devices in mind. Think Twitter: you want to get your point across in as few characters as possible, without losing the important details. Be mindful of action-oriented content to facilitate a positive user experience; instead of writing a novel in an email, write compelling tag lines with bold calls to action to direct the user to your website or social media profile to continue their interaction with your brand. Also remember the mobile screen users when sizing your buttons and fonts, to make sure that their experience isn’t compromised by screen size.

Now that you’ve designed a responsive email campaign, don’t forget about your other digital venues. Suppose you’ve composed a fantastic responsive design using email HTML, but then your call to action in said email brings users to a site that is not optimized for mobile. What could have been a really positive experience associated with your brand has now become a frustration to the user. Your design needs to be consistent, both in style and responsiveness. Catching all the little details will go a long way in improving user experience; if your email includes a coupon code, linking your call to action with the coupon code auto-populated on the form within the page is a nice touch that your user will appreciate.

Unfortunately, we are still in the early stages of responsive email design, and many platforms don’t support responsive layouts, including Windows Phone 8, and Yahoo! and Gmail on both iOS and Android. It’s important to test how your email campaign looks on a wide variety of platforms to make sure that consumers will receive your message even if they use a platform that doesn’t support your design. More and more companies and platforms are adopting responsive email design, and though it will take time for everyone to catch on, it seems as though responsive design is the future of email as we know it.

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