Responsive emails - worth the effort?

Gareth Parker
Gareth Parker

There are emails, and then there are emails.

Chances are, you're currently within a few feet of your mobile phone. If needed, you could pick it up and check for new emails, texts, Facebook messages and the like all within a few seconds - and according to a recent study that's exactly what we do, up to 150 times a day on average. So it's no wonder that 47% of email opens are now recorded to happen on a mobile device and a staggering 80% of people will delete an email if it doesn't look good on their mobile device.

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Based on the above statistics, it seems obvious that it's important to make sure your email looks the very best it can on mobile devices if you want to be in with a chance of reaching your audience. So why then do so many companies neglect to optimise their emails for mobile devices?

Before we look at answering this, let's take a step back and look at what exactly is required to make an email look good on a mobile device. A collection of techniques which is collectively called responsive design and is the same methodology that is used to make web pages look better on mobile devices. For those in the know, it's done using various techniques such as fluid grids, fluid images and a CSS rule called a media-query which essentially asks your device how many pixels it has horizontally and then can apply rules to parts of your design based upon that answer, allowing you to create several different views based upon what sized device you are viewing on.

So why is it then, that so many companies are not taking advantage of this technology when sending out emails?

Well, it could easily be the extra design and development time required to create a responsive email. Here at Miramar we estimate it can take up to 50% longer to design and develop a responsive email compared to its non-responsive counterpart. Does that sound surprising? Developing just a standard email is somewhat of an art as email clients have not kept pace with advancements in web browser technology, meaning any email developer creating emails will have to turn the clock back on the technology and coding style they use a good 10 years into the past. Add onto that using the (relatively) new technology of responsive techniques and you can easily get into a few hundred lines of code just for a simple email with one standard design and one responsive design.

All the above can lead to a longer process of design and development, however with up to 80% of people deleting emails that don't look good on their mobile devices, can you afford not to go responsive? It's likely that email opens on mobile devices will soon be in excess of 60% and that will only rise as the culture of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) gains traction in the workplace. We're firm believers in responsive design for both web and email when it’s done right, and we hope you are too.

Thankfully, there are resources to help with this process. At Miramar we offer the full range of emails services including standard and responsive design and development, data sourcing, email send, and analytics. For the developers, we recommend the hugely helpful Inky framework from the people who created the Foundation responsive framework for web, Zurb.

So, next time you're struggling to read a non-responsive email on your mobile and your thumb is heading towards the delete button, ask yourself if you'd be less inclined to do so if the email were optimised for your device.



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