Why Responsive Design Doesn’t Mean What Email Marketers Think It Means




  • April 19, 2015


    It’s 2015 and the word “responsive” can still strike fear in any marketer’s heart. Creating effective mobile marketing campaigns is hard, whatever the channel. For most marketers, making something responsive means long meetings with design and web teams, if not outsourcing big chunks of projects to agencies.


    Maybe that’s why nearly half (42%) of marketers say that they rarely or never create responsive emails, even though nearly 67% of emails are opened mobile devices.


    Either way, it’s clear marketers aren’t fully embracing responsive design for emails. And, when they do, they take a device-first approach. Because, after all, responsive design is all about making something look good on devices, right?


    Well, the problem is that responsive design doesn’t mean what most email marketers think it means. Because truly responsive emails have to respond not just to the device, but to what the customer needs at that moment in time.


    Inbox, Inbox, on the Wall


    When customers are checking their email at home on a laptop or desktop computer, marketers can be fairly certain that the email is going to reach them when they’re stationary, and setting aside some time to go through their inbox.


    But when customers are checking their emails on their phones, they could be doing just about anything. Really. Pew’s latest research found that:



    • 64% of Americans own smartphones and 10% have no other easy way to get online
    • 62% of Americans have used their phone for health information and 57% have used it for online banking
    • 80% of Americans age 18-29 and 72% of Americans age 30-49 have used smartphones for driving directions
    • Phones are used in cars and public transit (82%), in the workplace (69%), and while waiting in line or at a community place like a park or coffee shop (53%)
    • 80% of Americans have used phones to coordinate a meeting and half have used them to settle an argument

    Email is one of the most popular activities on smartphones, ahead of social networking, videos, and maps and falling behind texting, calls, and general Internet use.


    That means a customer could be checking your email at any point while trying to multitask – his or her context is constantly changing, but your email content stays the same.


    So how can your emails respond to a customer who is walking through a street looking for a great restaurant? Or a customer who is waiting in line at a store?


    The content in the email has to change depending on the customer’s context.


    Customer-First Responsive Design 


    Responsive design shouldn’t be about devices – it should be about customers. So if your customer’s context is changing in real-time, then your emails have to change in real-time, too, taking into account customer data like location, weather, time of open, and more.


    The real question is how you can create emails that delight customers at every potential point of open – however, whenever, and wherever they open it.


    Want to learn more? Movable Ink recently wrote an eBook, “Re: New Responsive Email Strategies” to showcase the different ways that brands are creating next-generation responsive emails that are all about what customers need, instead of what devices need.


    Download the eBook today!

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