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Get More Responsive with Emails

Email marketing is still a useful, if sometimes forgotten method for connecting with customers. While some people are content to send a standard format email in hopes of connecting with a mailing list, other pioneers are venturing forward to try a variety of ways to make their emails stand out and be more attractive to potential customers.

One way they are doing this is by employing responsive design into their emails.

A Responsive Recap

In case you have been under a rock recently, which is normally a wi-fi dead zone, you probably have heard about responsive design. That is the concept of creating web pages that scale in size based on the available size of the device using them.  In a nutshell, everyone sees basically the same thing no matter how they connect to your site with no side scrolling necessary.

Sure, there are some adjustments to graphics and complete removal of certain items when you get all the way down to a cell phone, but basically you are utilizing one single design that works across multiple platforms. Responsive email works on the same concept except via email and makes a great addition to any emails that use a lot of HTML code.

Everything Should Be To Scale!

Have you ever noticed that some emails look awful when viewed on your smart phone or even a tablet? Typically when people are crafting HTML-laced emails for marketing purposes the design size is set at 1024 x 768, the average screen size. Obviously with the growth of tablets and use of smart phones as internet access points for both browsing and email, this one-size-fits all approach is looking more like a dinosaur; soon to be extinct.

The idea for email involves using CSS3 coding with media queries so the email with re-size itself to the optimal size based on the viewing screen of the recipient. Additionally a smart designer will hide the non-essential items for mobile users to ensure the highlights are most visible along with the call to action.

Here are a few of the common layouts being employed:

  • Shrink Wrap – This is a basic newsletter format where text shrinks becoming narrower and wraps lower. Most people are used to scrolling down but dislike the back-and-forth of going side to side. It is easy to implement and images resize. This is a perfect option for a simple, straightforward message.
  • Layout Shift – This is a complex move for a dramatic shift in the presentation of an email. You might initially design an email with a main column to the left and then two rows to the right. The layout would shift as the screen size shrunk to re-layer the elements in a single column with three rows. That would be one example. This style tends to be more impressive and difficult to implement.
  • Column Drop – This is another simple and commonly used idea. Side by side columns simply form up into a straight line. The biggest concern here is deciding which column of information to lead with and hopefully gain the greatest impact from. Another worry is improper implementation leaving an ugly, box-like look compared to smooth transitions between columns.


No matter which option you might employ from a responsive aspect, there are still the fundamentals of marketing email that should be followed. The KISS method, keep it simple stupid, certainly applies. You want a clear message. You need a clear purpose and call to action. Don’t get caught up in writing tons of copy and then using creative methods to cram it into a single email. Even with using responsive tricks the bottom line is that people aren’t going to read a huge advertisement.

The goal should be to quickly capture a reader’s attention no matter what size screen they are using. People are busy and usually will briefly scan an email before moving on to the next because most people get a lot of junk. So utilize responsive email to help ensure your message is clear and concise no matter where someone reads it.





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