I mentioned earlier this year in an email trends video that responsive email design is just email design. I have spent a lot of time talking about and implementing the basics of responsive design, when I really want to discuss all the tactics required to create an awesome customer experience.

After all, the only reason why we’re designing and coding responsive emails and landing pages is for an improved customer experience.

Responsive design will make an email easier to read on a mobile device and increase engagement but it shouldn’t be the ONLY method used to enhance the customer’s email experience.

Move beyond responsive…

  • Think about the user and what they can achieve using the device on which they are reading their emails
  • Take advantage of the built-in abilities of the device
  • Review your CI and ensure that you can be flexible. If you can’t, then it’s time for a new CI

What responsive design does NOT do:

1. Clever content rearrangement and great content choreography are not going to make the message more relevant

Use customer data to segment the audience, customize the messages and specifically tailor offers. It won’t matter that your email is perfectly responsive and neatly wrapped if the message isn’t relevant or does not add value.

2. Choosing to stack multiple navigation links doesn’t improve navigation

Consult analytics and consider the goals of your email when choosing which links to keep or hide.

The navigation links become buttons with larger copy and they stack neatly on top of each other. This makes the email responsive, but does it create a better user experience? Those links will be all the reader sees, all the leading content will be pushed down and off display. I suggest you discard links that consistently have a very low click through rate.

Remember to consider purpose in mobile email – only keep the critical or useful navigation links in a mobile version.

3. The 44px by 44px Call-to-Action won’t necessarily generate leads

Ensure the landing page, website or lead generation on the other side of the Call-to-Action button is also responsive and mobile friendly. Otherwise there is a good chance that the action will not be completed, even if the code has done all the right things – increased the size of the call-to-action, created a tap target that allows for tap space and made the font larger and even left enough padding to allow for thumbs instead of a cursor.

Once again, consider mobile! Can the action required even be completed from a smart phone? Flash for example won’t always work on a smart phone, so in this case hide these sections to avoid a negative experience.

There will always be a compromise between functionality and looks and, yes, even corporate identity (CI)

If it means that you need to sacrifice pretty for simple and cool drop shadows for flat design, then so be it! At least you are not sacrificing the customer experience for the sake of an approved font size based on a rigid CI.

Screen width adjustment, content rearrangement and bigger buttons are necessary, but alone they won’t create an awesome customer experience.

Creating a positive user experience goes beyond just responsive email layout and content placement. It’s about ensuring a seamless transition between devices and allowing customers to continue an action irrespective of device.

What do you think is next for design and email – parallax, more animation? Beyond responsive… what’s next?