Having a good understanding of who your subscribers are and knowing what types of devices they use is obviously the most important thing. You should not only understand who your users are but consider whether they have the latest devices or possibly only read emails on the desktop. Most email broadcasting platforms these days give a device breakdown. This is important but it is also worth remembering that most people use more than one device to check their emails.
What are you trying to achieve?
This is a question that relates to all email but is especially relevant when it comes to responsive email. Some marketing managers are too keen to hide vast swathes of the email, wrongly thinking this is the right way to make responsive emails. It isn’t. Having a clear goal will help you organise the content into a logical hierarchical structure that allows your users to easily see what they need to do and how to action it.
Subscribers and types of devices
Knowing what types of devices your subscribers have should allow you to create a feature list of the various email capabilities available. HTML5 video, animated gifs, pixel art and so on are all largely dependent on specific types of devices and email clients. Last before you choose to use any type of technique you should also question whether your subscribers want/need or understand this type of functionality in email.
When people are reading is important factor in email design. While it is true that most people own a smart phone it is also reasonable to assume that for example if you were emailing office workers during the day you would most likely see a majority of desktop client opens for that campaign.
Like regular emails all communications should have an obvious function and action. If you are sending a sale email advertising discounted shoes, make sure to clearly display the shoes, the information it is discounted and finally a clear call to action for people to buy the shoes. While these might seem completely obvious it is not uncommon to find large lifestyle or mood shots being left in responsive emails while products are shrunk or removed altogether rendering the email useless.
Time to code
Responsive emails do take longer to code. If the email is even fairly small, testing across multiple devices takes time too. Responsive email code is fairly recent and new techniques are being thought up all the time. Using cutting edge code is fun but it often can take time to get right. If you are planning to send responsive emails make sure you have enough time to code them.
While there are great tools out there for testing responsive emails like Litmus and Email on Acid, it is important to check things on actual devices. Here at display block we are building up a collection of devices that we test emails on. Unfortunately it is not uncommon to see slight discrepancies between the online testing tools and an actual device.
Plan out your design
Before diving into Photoshop or your favourite code editor it’s important to plan out all the elements and create a hierarchical structure of the information. Even if you just sketch out a few blocks on paper
Everyone is equal
A current mobile trend is to hide large sections of the email for mobile users. The reason for doing something like this is to save the “busy” mobile user some time and not make the email too long to scroll through. Both these reasons are weak at best. Firstly assuming all mobile users are on the go or rushing around is simply not true. People are using their phones all the time especially in quiet times, on the bus, in front of the tv etc.. Lastly and more importantly the mobile user will still need to download all that hidden content so why not just show it to them? who knows they might even buy some shoes! The only caveat is the paradox of choice and this applies whether the content is opened on a desktop or a mobile device, think about what you want to promote and do it, rather than try and sell everything in your store.
Your users! They’re the most important aspect so it’s worth repeating
Having a good understanding of who your users are is paramount. It will help you make all types of decisions, from planning to design, to functionality to content type. The list is endless. So keep testing, keep learning about them and probably the most important thing is talk to them and listen to the feedback from your users.
People are using their phones all the time especially in quiet times, on the bus, in front of the tv etc..