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Responsive Design and Mobile's Next Moves for Email Marketing

12/02/2016 04:12 pm ET

Mobile has undoubtedly altered the way we connect, communicate, and conduct business. With an estimated 5 billion mobile phone connections worldwide, the smartphone is set to become one of the most defining technologies of the 21st century. It has transformed pre-existing technologies and fueled a "mobile-first" revolution in business models. Gone are the days of designing for desktops; adaptive email marketers have now made these small screens their biggest priorities by re-doubling efforts and focusing on how to best facilitate mobile content consumption.

Considered one of the most effective channels for brands to reach consumers, email marketing is poised at the forefront of this mobile evolution. Now that 55 percent of emails are opened on mobile phones or tablets, emails must be designed to respond to the user's screen size and orientation in order to create a more consistent experience across devices. As mobile consumption rates continue to rise, a seamless path to purchase is no longer a luxury for users, it's a necessity for marketers.

Implementing Responsive Design
The first step to a mobile-first approach is responsive design. This means creating the most optimal viewing experience possible by crafting emails that render properly to allow easy navigation and minimal resizing. In our age of convenience, users will no longer bother with emails that need reformatting to be viewed on a mobile device. A responsively designed email will ensure the content is accessible regardless of what device is being used to access it.

Responsive design is critical for web browsers as well. If email marketers are including links to sites and the respective site does not appear properly on a mobile screen, this will likely break the user's path to purchase and result in losing the consumer at the end of the funnel, before a sale can take place. In order to avoid this, email marketers can use dedicated landing pages --known as squeeze pages -- ¬¬¬¬¬for specific campaigns and products. If the squeeze page is responsive and includes a specific call to action, conversion rates will likely be higher as the user will be more inclined to complete the desired action.

Beyond responsive design, it's critical to consider visual elements when crafting an email for mobile. This means simple fonts and large buttons directing users to a brand's site or a new link. Including bullet points and clickable links to make articles scannable is beneficial as well. It is also important to keep content concise; short summaries and bold headlines are more likely than long-form text to grab attention and encourage readership.

"Content Is King"
While an optimized mobile email is more likely to attract and retain subscribers, the key to subscribers coming back is content. Amidst the internet's infancy stage and long before mobile was conceived, Bill Gates composed the 1996 essay, "Content is King" ¬-- a declaration that has rung true across the digital frontier for a decade. Unique, personalized and well-written content is critical to the success of any email marketing campaign. Additionally, as the email gatekeeper, subject lines should be eye-catching and impactful. This combination of creative content and responsive design will have subscribers coming back to crafted emails time and time again.

As we have seen mobile bring about some profoundly impactful changes to technology and the way business is conducted these past few years, it's inevitable the next few years will bring a new wave of disruptive innovation as our society becomes even more digitally fluent. People will begin to consume content in new ways, whether it be wearable smart watches or a through big data. Positioned strategically between consumers and brands, email marketing must continuously adapt to deliver the most optimized brand experience possible, just how it has with mobile.

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