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I can’t provide a precise answer to this question for you or your organization.  However, I can help provide some context and details for you to consider going forward.  This topic was spurred by a recent email marketing audit I performed for a client and a great responsive commercial email that I received to a personal account during the audit.

Here are some considerations to help in making the decision:

  1. Current mobile email recipients and website visitors
    If your email marketing platform or technology provides a breakdown of mobile versus desktop performance data, you should start here.  Is there a decent percentage of your list (or lists, campaigns, etc.), that views the messages on a mobile device?  If so, it might be time to consider a mobile template design.  Be sure to note the potential difference from message-to-message within a campaign and compare different campaigns to each other.  There might be some variation from list to list.
  2. Design language and user experience
    Do you know what your email messages look like on mobile devices now?  There are several quality (and free or low cost) tools available both integrated into email marketing tools and as third party tools that will help show a rendering of your messages across a wide range of email clients for both desktop and mobile inboxes.  It is really important to pay attention to these rendering reports.  If you know from number 1 above that a percentage of your recipients view messages regularly on mobile devices and visit the site from iOS devices and the message looks like crap on an iPhone, the user experience isn’t ideal.We also want to consider the user experience from the email to the website.  If the website is responsive or has a dedicated mobile experience, we don’t want to ignore the experience in the email template.  The design language can be critical in funneling recipients from the email, to a landing page, and ultimately to a page on the site that allow them to accomplish a marketing conversion goal.  Design language, or the consistency of colors, fonts, and graphics for calls-to-action, headings, etc., can be really important and often overlooked in email templates.  While they might be a small detail, having a consistent look and feel for buttons and action items can be a critical component in making it easy for users to know what to click on and how to navigate from a mobile email to a mobile optimized landing page and beyond.
  3. Projected mobile traffic growth
    Not much mobile traffic at the moment?  No problem.  Have you considered mobile growth either for your company/industry or in general within our internet browsing universe?  While there might not be an immediate need or responsive might be behind other email and web projects on your list, it should be planned and budgeted for.
  4. Template update resources and costs
    Speaking of budgets, have you considered the resources or external costs for responsive design?  Whether you have designers on staff and can implement the code updates in your own template and system internally or need to go through your third party email marketing platform provider, you’re looking at a cost.  You’ll have to weight this cost based on priority, but hopefully you have some evidence or need-based information to help build a case for this investment.
  5. Measurement plan
    Even if securing the budget for responsive template design is not difficult, you’ll still want to understand the impact.  We’re not finished once we implement responsive design.  We now need to measure the impact and circle back to number 1 above in a continuous measurement process.  Implementing responsive design should be treated like any other variable test.  We introduced a new variable for our mobile users and now we want to see how it performs compared to the past performance history with as many other variables controlled as possible.  Plus, we can use this data to report the successes back to those that approved funding or invested time in the project.

Here’s the good example I recently received in a personal account.  The first image is of the full message in my Gmail inbox.  The second is the version of the exact same email when viewed on my iPhone.  I viewed it the first time on the iPhone and could tell that it was designed with my device in mind and while a bit wordy, it is much better than having to pinch and zoom to read the content and click on buttons.

Responsive Design Email Template Desktop Version

Responsive Design Email Template iPhone Version

Do you already have responsive design for your email template(s)?  How are they performing?  I’d love to hear from you regarding your experience.

If you’re considering the update or have questions about the details outlined in this post, I’ll be happy to provide further detail or answer them.  Feel free to contact us for more information.

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