Responsive email is likely to be a key priority for marketers in 2014 as the consumer shift towards smartphones and tablets continues apace.

It’s not uncommon for as much as 50% of marketing email to be opened on a mobile device, so brands need to take action to ensure they are providing a smooth user experience.

The alternative is that recipients have to spend ages pinching and scrolling to read the content, which will inevitably impact on click-throughs and conversions.

To find out a bit more about the process of shifting marketing emails to a responsive template, I spoke to Missguided’s affiliate and email marketing manager Cath Higgs.

Missguided is a women’s clothing retailer that targets young, fashionable consumers. The business currently operates in the US, Australia and Europe.

Click here to see a live example of Missguided’s responsive email templates, or for more information on this topic check out our blog posts detailing five similar case studies and listing 15 responsive templates for small businesses

What factors persuaded you to begin optimising emails for mobile? And what percentage of your emails were being opened on mobile when you finally made the switch?

Having a good understanding of who our customer is meant we had a strong indication that a high proportion were using a mobile or a tablet device to check their emails.

We completed a Litmus test to confirm this and it showed that 65% were opening on mobile and 11% on tablet. From this, we realised it was more important to focus on how our emails rendered on a mobile device rather than desktop. 

What steps did you take to decide which was the best solution for you?

We were reviewing our whole email platform and during the pitch process, we prioritised the approach towards mobile. As the world of email is constantly evolving, we wanted a platform that could support all of our requirements. 

What solution did you eventually opt for? Did you use responsive design?

We opted for a dynamic module template that allowed us to build emails that were responsive to the device they were opened on and also one that helped us to retain a high level of creative flexibility, which is important to us as a brand.

How long did it take to implement mobile optimised email and what software/tech did you use?

Once we had partnered with our new ESP, Responsys, the process was relatively fast. After several requirements meetings a mobile template and a set of bespoke modules were created for us.

From start to finish, the whole process took around three to four weeks.

How has it impacted your KPIs? (e.g. open rate, click throughs, conversions).

We have seen an overall improvement but the most significant changes have come in the distribution of clicks through the email content and the responder to open rates. This demonstrates the vast improvement in customer engagement.

This improvement was impactful and results could be seen after the first mobile optimised email campaign was sent. We are now trending much higher than the retail benchmark. 

What kind of testing do you currently do to further optimise your email campaigns?

Testing and optimising is a continuous process for us. We have reviewed many of our content layouts, imagery and calls-to-action to ensure that our knowledge of successful content still works in a mobile layout.

We also continue to test how different content renders with different handsets.

Have you altered the length of subject lines to take into account mobile users?

We have always kept our subject lines short and ambiguous and this has worked well for us. We’ve also focused on adding more context to the snippet text as this allows for much more detail and exposure is nearly as strong as the subject line within mobile.

Missguided doesn’t have a mobile site. What impact do you think a mobile site would have on conversion rates from email?

Not having a mobile site is currently restricting the full success of our mobile optimised emails. Once we have one in place, we expect to see a considerable uplift in conversion.