Responsive designThere’s one figure I’ve been referring to quite a bit on this blog in recent weeks: 51%. That is how far mobile email has come; over half of all email opens now occur on mobile devices.

In 2013, smartphone and tablet use nearly doubled and the mobile share of web traffic hovers at around 25%, on average. Instead of turning to clunky, inconveniently-placed desktop machines, people are simply turning to their armrest and grabbing their tablet or smartphone of choice whenever they need to engage with something on the web.

Such reliance on these diminutive devices produced some fantastic email statistics last year. Here’s some choice picks:

  • On average, people use their phones for 119 minutes per day. Nine of those minutes are spent on email
  • 90% of email users access the same account on their desktop and smartphone
  • In Q2 of 2013, mobile enjoyed the largest percentage of unique clicks (40%)
  • 23% of email image loads (often the way email marketing clients such as mailingmanager track opens) occur on mobile devices
  • 30% of consumers use their mobile devices exclusively to read emails
  • Just 12% of newsletters use responsive design templates


I’d like to focus on that last statistic, which was released in June last year. It’s a frustratingly low number, which is made all the more perplexing when you consider how many websites are now responsive. Think about the time you spend on your smartphone browsing the web and viewing emails. I bet the former is often a far more pleasurable experience. Why? Web developers are embracing the mobile world and did so in their droves last year. Email marketers need to follow suit, and quick. 2014 really should be the year of the responsive email template.

Why should I go responsive?

I’ve got another statistic for you. It is believed 70% of people immediately delete emails if they don’t render well on a mobile device. I don’t think I need to say much more, but, then, this wouldn’t be much of a blog post, would it? So, let’s delve in a little deeper.

Responsive emails are lightning fast

Efficiency in email marketing is absolutely crucial. The great thing about responsive templates is that they are lightening fast to build and maintain. Here’s why:

  1. They utilise more HTML text – this makes it easier to make revisions after the initial template is build.
  2. Responsive emails generally work from one predefined template which is designed to scale properly on screens of all sizes – you don’t need to build several for different devices.
  3. Non-responsive templates often feature complex HTML throughout the email – responsive templates with saved content areas utilise existing HTML, therefore editing those saved areas involves editing just a few lines of script, rather than building in HTML code for each one. This makes testing and the QA of your email campaigns far easier.
  4. Responsive email templates usually follow a predefined structure, unlike non-responsive templates, which vary from one to the next. The former saves time both building and editing responsive emails.


Responsive email templates don’t look like templates

Generally, I’d always advise getting a professional, unique template built, but I appreciate budgets don’t always allow for that when businesses take their first foray into email marketing. Unfortunately, it is often the case that standard, non-responsive email templates look very much like templates when they are sent (particularly if they are not customised fully). Responsive templates are markedly different. This is because such templates are purely intended to keep the email as a whole in check – they ensure it appears as intended on all screen sizes. The saved content areas, on the other hand, are usually fully customisable, allowing for a unique and flexible email design. By re-ordering, adding and removing content areas, you can make your responsive email template look entirely like your own – no one will know it is in fact a generic template. This can save money and time.

Can you build a responsive template yourself?

Responsive design, although already adopted significantly for websites, is still a relatively new concept. As such, standards for coding in a responsive fashion are yet to be fully realised. Similarly, email design is fairly unique in its requirements and adding the element of responsiveness only increases that uniqueness.

In short, I would always recommend you seek the advice or services of a professional to get the job done. The great news is, once they’ve done the hard work of turning a blank screen into a beautiful responsive template, the ongoing maintenance and customisation of it is largely down to you, and you won’t need a degree in web development to know what you’re doing. Non-responsive email templates are nearly always edited entirely via WYSIWYG editors, purely because delving into the HTML is rather daunting. Responsive templates feature less code and, as explained above, the content areas borrow from existing HTML. This makes it easier for coding novices like you and I to edit the code for the email directly. The benefit of this is fewer chances of poor formatting creeping in; edit the code, and you’re editing the core of the email – it’ll always look right.

In conclusion

Remember the golden rule of email marketing in 2014: there is no such thing as a ‘mobile version’ of your email newsletter. Responsive templates are the way to go from here on!


Image courtesy of  tungphoto /


Mark is one of mailingmanager's email experts. His contributions to this blog openly share the tricks, tips and best practices he's learned while running multiple e-marketing campaigns.

Follow me on googleplus Google Plus