Posted by Nicole Hambleton / Article, Email and Direct Marketing, Mobile /

Email newsletters or eDMs are a common component of campaign work and digital strategies, but we still find a large percentage of them are not being designed responsively. We wrote an article about responsive eDMs a couple of months ago and the feedback was overwhelming from agencies wanting to know more, so this is a follow up.

Lets start with some basic statistics, sourced from Mailchimp research on mobile email behaviour:

  • Around 40% of all email opens occur on mobile devices, compared with only 32% on web.
  • 69% of mobile users will delete emails without reading, if they are not optimised for their smartphone, another 18% will simply unsubscribe.
  • 75% of users will have a negative perception of the brand if they can’t view the email newsletter on their smartphone.

User Behaviour

It’s clear people are using their mobile phones to view the web, but are people viewing personal or work emails on their phone? The answer is both, often at the same time. Most people don’t view one or the other, they view their newsletters while waiting in line, taking public transport, having a coffee break, all while they are out and about. So what happens if they view an email newsletter that isn't optimised for their device, do they reopen it when they get home? Probably not, in fact many will just delete it. Around 17% will wait until they get home and even then it’s probably only if it’s an email newsletter that they are loyal to, such as one that provides regular coupons.

The move from desktop to mobile is becoming more entrenched in everyday life. While people still need desktops to do their everyday work, edit documents and perform certain functions, the mobile phone is rarely more than an arms length away. Most users will check their phone several times a day, which includes emails. Research indicates smart phone users are more likely to check emails than make calls on their phone.

Design the email 

So you know it’s a good idea to get creative and design for the smart phone but what needs to be considered? Firstly it’s important to note that Android devices using the GMail app (a large proportion) still only allow desktop view for email newsletters at the moment. However the user behaviour between devices is quite different. A lot of emails are being checked on iPhones, using the Mail app and this does render a well designed responsive email. The difference between a responsive email and a desktop version is startling.

  • Font sizes on a responsive email should be legible without any zoom function, think 12pt. Nobody wants to squint when they read their emails.
  • Use images wisely, an email newsletter should contain images, possibly even icons but they should fit well on the page and be relevant. A large banner image that takes up most of the page is probably a waste of screen real estate (unless it's conveying an important message)  but not having any images is a bit dull. 
  • Style the calls to action so that they can be easily identified and tapped. Make the link or button large enough and well spaced so that the user can easily open the article, collect their coupon or save a date to their calendar. 
  • Allow users to share straight from their mobile device. Sharing is often a spur of the moment decision. Leaving it off the mobile version could mean a lost opportunity. Make the share button large enough to click without zooming.

Consequences of not designing responsively

Over the past year we have noticed that our newsletter is getting more opens from mobiles every month. The statistics speak for themselves, but what about brands that are not taking these statistics into consideration, what are they missing?

  • Mobile conversion rate is growing, a larger number of users want to click through to make a purchase or book an event as soon as they are notified, with responsive emails increasing conversion rates by 14%.
  • Mobile growth increased 138% from June 2011 – December 2012, is that a market any brand wants to miss out on?
  • Over 60% of users will delete a poorly formatted mobile email newsletter without taking the time to read it.
  • ROI figures are being skewed by poorly designed email newsletters, with users attempting to click on links within non-responsive emails and clicking the wrong links which sends inaccurate data back to marketing. This can affect future marketing efforts and strategies and can result in the email simply being deleted in frustration. 

While a lot of creative agencies, marketing agencies and designers are still designing and coding emails in house, most are not developing responsively yet. The great news is that while designing responsively takes a little bit more time creatively, it doesn’t increase production costs too much but offers a lot more value for money and better ROI. If you are not yet comfortable designing responsively, we can offer this service as part of the eDM build. Turn around for a responsive eDM is around 2-4 days depending on whether design services are also required.