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Responsive Design: The Real MVP

Learn why responsive design is the key to email engagement past the initial open and how it affects response rates for emails opened on both mobile and desktop devices.

At this point, every marketer has heard of responsive design and recognized the need to implement it in email campaigns. While brands that have lagged in responsive design adoption probably already have it as their #1 priority, our most recent benchmark report identified another major reason why marketers should act with escalated urgency. The reason is that responsive design is a DETERMINING factor in both mobile and, perhaps surprisingly, desktop click-to-open rates.

First off, let’s start with a little bit of a refresher.
Responsive emails are designed to automatically adapt to screen size and provide an optimal viewing and interaction experience. It ensures readability and preserves the visual appeal of emails by stacking email section in accordance with the dimensions of a consumer’s device. This creative from Domino's is a great example of well-executed responsive design. 

Even though the benefits of responsive design are undeniable, many brands have been slow to adopt it; just 17% of all marketers send exclusively responsive emails and more than a quarter do not use responsive design at all, thus missing out on an opportunity to engage a captive audience. 

The graph above tells us that almost half of all marketers, or 45% to be exact, either does not use responsive design at all, or only use it sporadically, in less than half of the emails they send. What this really means is that those brands fail to acknowledge the undeniable ascent of mobile and that can have dire consequences on their marketing efforts.

Let me break it down.
Over the past 3 years, over half of all email opens happen on a mobile device, even for brands that are not sending responsive emails. The challenge that marketers face is encouraging consumers to engage beyond the open. In our Q4 benchmark report, we discovered that consumers’ willingness to engage on their mobile device beyond the initial email open is greatly dependent on whether an email uses responsive design. Brands that have fully embraced responsive see 24% more clicks coming from mobile than those that have not employed responsive design.

As both a marketer and a consumer I cannot wrap my head around the fact that marketers haven’t made the change to responsive design. The consumer side of me can relate to the frustration of opening an email to discover that the font is too small, the images are not rendering properly, and the copy is not aligned. Moreover, I can relate to having to zoom in so I can read an email and then constantly scroll right to left to see what the campaign is offering. After a frustrating experience like that, the chances of engaging with that brand’s email campaigns in the future are slim. Worse, I am likely to tune out that brand’s marketing efforts on other channels as well.

Why risk losing new and loyal subscribers alike when that can be easily avoided through the use of responsive design?

For more benchmark data, tips, and strategies, download Yesmail’s Q4 2015 Email Marketing Compass report!

Author Bio

Madeline Nelson

As a Marketing Coordinator, Intelligence Products Analyst, Maddy is responsible for ensuring the outbound deployment and inbox placement of messaging across email, SMS, and social channels. Her favorite part about her role is that each and every day is different and she's constantly learning from her colleagues. In her downtime, she attends Chicago White Sox and Chicago Blackhawks games. And when she's not decked out in Hawks gear you’ll most likely find her in a Gryffindor shirt, as she's an avid fan of Harry Potter!