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Digital Marketing Needs Responsive Email Design

Email marketing is not new. In fact, you may not know this, but the first unsolicited marketing email was sent out almost 40 years ago in 1978. It was delivered to about 400 people over ARPANET (Internet 1.0) and advertised a then cutting-edge computer. The backlash was so severe that 10 years passed by before a second email attempt occurred.

Email marketing has come a long way since then. Although, arguably, it generates as much per capita ire with customers today as it once did. Any way you slice it, email is the cornerstone of most companies’ customer outreach and direct marketing programs — and rightfully so. It is the most cost-effective form of brand communication and has had the best performing ROI, generating $38 for every $1 spent, for 10 years in a row.

This is truly amazing when you think about the pace of changing technologies in the digital marketing space. Ten years of anything in a row in digital is a feat.

My hat is off to you, email.

It gets better from there. Even more than social media marketing, email just also happens to be the overwhelmingly preferred method of communication with companies. A whopping 72% of customers want to receive email communications over any other channel.

Consumer Preferred Communication Method with Companies

  • Email = 72
  • Postal Mail = 48
  • In-Person Communication = 18
  • Mobile App = 11
  • Other = 3
  • None = 7
Percentage of Respondents

And why wouldn’t they? Personalization has done wonders for click-through rates. Even the most cynical inbox defenders among us have come to appreciate the tailored offers and incentives that force us to purchase top-of-the-line dress socks with race cars on them for only $2.99. Okay, that’s just me, but you get the idea — executed effectively, email is a pretty good medium of exchange for companies and consumers alike.

This brings me to my point. In order to remain competitive in the marketplace and keep email as the king of the hill, businesses need to keep up with the times when it comes to email marketing. And, sadly, the reality is that marketers are running the risk of falling behind.

By now, responsive design across devices for websites is pretty commonplace, and most consumers are familiar with the concept. What you may not know is that responsive email design is now available for the inbox. If you’re not currently sending responsively designed emails from your business, you should be. And here’s why: more than 50% of emails are opened on a mobile or tablet device.

Environment Growth

  • Feb 2015 = 22
  • Apr 2015 = 22
  • June 2015 = 23
  • Aug 2015 = 23
  • Oct 2015 = 20
  • Dec 2015 = 19
  • Feb 2016 = 19
  • Feb 2015 = 32
  • Apr 2015 = 31
  • June 2015 = 30
  • Aug 2015 = 29
  • Oct 2015 = 29
  • Dec 2015 = 28
  • Feb 2016 = 26
  • Feb 2015 = 46
  • Apr 2015 = 47
  • June 2015 = 47
  • Aug 2015 = 48
  • Oct 2015 = 48
  • Dec 2015 = 50
  • Feb 2016 = 55

That statistic may not surprise or even alarm you, but knowing that 80% of the emails that are not optimized for the inbox they are viewed on are deleted (as in not ever read) should. Those numbers could result in 40% of the emails you’re sending being deleted outright.

If You Get A Mobile Email That Doesn’t Look Good, What Do You Do?

  • Delete it = 69
  • Unsubscribe = 18
  • Look at it on my computer = 18
  • Read it anyway = 7
  • Don’t know = 9
  • Delete it = 81
  • Unsubscribe = 30
  • Look at it on my computer = 13
  • Read it anyway = 5
  • Don’t know = 3

Think about it. How casually do you delete or never read marketing emails on your smartphone or tablet? If you’re like me, it probably happens quite frequently — so much so that I don’t even give it much of a thought when I do it. It’s like breathing or blinking. And who can blame a consumer for not wanting to pinch, prod, and pull on an email design that is not optimized for that specific inbox?

Mobile and tablet devices are now prolific, with the average American owning four digital devices. As a result, we’re spending more time than ever before consuming content across those devices. More specifically, we’re not reading emails in the traditional desktop inbox as much as we used to. In fact, mobile and tablet email opens have increased 500% in the past four years. Think about your own consumption habits. Again, assuming that you’re like me, you probably check email on a desktop while at work, hit your smartphone multiple times throughout the day, and then perform a final check on your tablet while sitting at home on the couch or lying in bed at night.

Businesses and their marketers need to keep up with the changing consumption habits of their consumers. If email marketing is the important part of your digital marketing mix that it should be, optimizing for the myriad of devices and email client software combinations should be the next stage of evolution in your email marketing strategy. Not only will you potentially avoid your customers deleting 80% of the non-optimized emails that you send them, but you’re also likely to receive a 15% increase in click-throughs as well! Every click — or in this case, every touch — counts.