By Ros Hodgekiss on 7th November 2012
Designing, coding and testing takes too long. I can't convince clients to pay more. Besides, who's going to appreciate all that hard work, anyway?
As someone who's worked in an agency setting (and not just an office that smells of rich mahogany), I and likely you have heard all of the above. Sometimes, it's just hard to justify the time and effort that goes into a responsive design, just as it's hard to justify refactoring an otherwise image-heavy design, or even spending an hour on testing.
However, after reading this recent blog post by Email Design Review, I felt compelled to chip in with a little pep talk, a word or two to say, yes, it's really worth it.
For starters, as EDR pointed out:
"I think that it’s a no-brainer to look at providing a better experience for those users opening your emails on a mobile device. In fact, personally I find it a bit weird that we need stats before we think about this, but there we go."'A note on Responsive Email Design', Email Design Review, October 22, 2012
Nonetheless, the questions remain - are enough people going to benefit from a 'better experience' to make amending our stylesheets worth our time? Secondly, does a better experience actually lead to tangible benefits?
If you saw our earlier blog post on email client market share, then it won't come as a surprise that mobile now dominates. Not only do we now see iOS devices accounting for 35% of client usage overall, but Android usage growth clocking an impressive 90% increase over the course of just over a year.
The bottom line - a lot of people will benefit from a responsive experience now and more will in the future. In addition, the most popular mobile devices have native mail applications that support media queries, so support for responsive techniques is close to a sure thing.
The earlier email client usage stats tell us two things - not only are mobile clients commonplace, but people are increasingly warming up to using them. Jakob Nielsen's recent mobile email usability study recently observed a number of benefits that mobile users reported enjoying, the biggest being:
Mobile reading... (adds) one more super-benefit: the newsletters are always available. Furthermore, on a phone, interaction mechanics are substantially easier for email messages than for websites: scrolling through a newsletter is less work than navigating a website to acquire the same information.'Mobile Email Newsletters ', Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox, October 22, 2012
Subscribers no longer have to wait until they return to their desks to get a message - regardless of your feelings on living in an 'always on' society, the pervasive feeling is that many people really like to read email anytime, anywhere. Providing a mobile-ready email newsletter multiplies this benefit, by providing an experience that requires 'less work than navigating a website to acquire the same information', by far.
Finally, I know what you're all thinking - despite EDR's earlier opinion, stats speak. So, here we go. According to Jay Schewedelson at Worldata, email newsletters that are not optimized for small screens suffer from a '28% lower conversion rate' than emails that have been designed with mobile in mind. This is because of increased 'tap errors', or accidental use of links. As he mentions:
"Nearly one-third of all mobile clickthroughs are accountable as tap errors, and this can dramatically change the ROI of your email campaigns."'Email Trends: The Importance of Tap Errors, Alt Tags and Mobile Design', Chief Marketer, October 16, 2012
The short of it - eliminating mistakes makes for more successful campaigns. But the most juicy, client-pleasing bite of all?
"87% of C-level executives check the majority of their email via mobile. This means that both B2B and B2C marketers must make their emails mobile friendly if they want to succeed."
If you're not thinking about responsive email design, then it's time to get up to speed. We have a template builder for creating mobile-friendly newsletters in minutes - or, if you prefer a more hands-on approach, our responsive email guide is for you.
Have you seen an uptick in clicks since optimizing your emails for mobile? Or are you yet to be convinced that mobile uptake makes a difference? Share your experiences with us in the comments below.
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