The growth of mobile has been a game changer for the world of email marketing.

Considering that smartphone usage tripled in 2011, it’s no surprise that email consumption via mobile devices has also seen a steep upturn.

Furthermore, we have seen some of our clients experience open rates of around 70% on mobile, proving just how vital it is when running campaigns.

However, at times we, as marketers, struggle to find a consistent definition of what the term ‘mobile’ actually means.

Ultimately, it can apply to all manner of different devices and scenarios, such as receiving an email on your laptop when travelling, on your iPad while watching television, or on your mobile during the early morning commute. Or all of the above!

Therefore, email must be optimised for all of these different situations, so that every recipient you target, in each of these different situations, can consume your content effectively. Rendering in different email clients has always been a challenge for marketers but, when you throw different screen sizes into the mix, things get even more complicated.

Responsive design to the rescue

The concept of responsive design is one that is now widely used in the web design space as the most effective way to optimise content for mobile devices.

However, when it comes to email marketing, responsive design is still largely ignored by the masses, why is this, is it simply forgotten or perceived as too technical? This is particularly surprising considering that 88% of smartphone owners check their email on their mobile phone every day.

Even when I see responsive design utilised effectively for web optimisation, the email campaigns used to drive traffic to the optimised site are almost unviewable on smaller screens, making the whole strategy rather pointless.

The best news of all is that, although it sounds complicated, mobile optimised responsive email can be a relatively simple process.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • No more separate coding. Responsive design means you use one code for all devices. This is added to and tweaked for optimisation on different platforms.
  • Change your content. When and where recipients are affects the way they engage with your email. Factor this into your design. Send them a non-intrusive design during waking hours or a call to action that is simple enough to respond to while on the commute home.
  • Target specific devices. There is no set template for every different laptop, smartphone or tablet. You have to experiment and see what works in terms of rendering, readability and usability across as many platforms as possible to get it right.
  • Analyse your results. Find out what works in terms of open rates and engagement. When are people more likely to open? What kind of people open on what device and where? Use this data to your advantage to create a more targeted campaign next time round.