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Kick Static Design To The Curb

Strategies for Making Responsive Email Design Work for You
Posted on Nov 6, 2014 in Technology Comments

In our first post about responsive design, we made the case for kicking static design to the curb and choosing a responsive email design that generates the best view for the user based on their device. In this post, we'll cover everything you need to know to make the most of responsive design: from planning your email marketing campaigns to measuring the results.

Planning for Success

Without a concrete plan for your campaigns, you'll be left scrambling to make decisions, create content, and sort through offers at the last minute. This can lead to delayed messages, errors, and content that isn't focused on the reader as well as it could be. If you take the time to create an outline and a schedule, your work down the road will be much easier.

First, decide who you want to address with each campaign. Do you want to send everyone the same thing or do you want to send repeat customers one message and new customers something else? Once you know who you are talking to, outline the types of content you want to include with each message. For repeat customers, it could look something like this:

  • Overall Theme: seasonal events, holiday specials, etc.
  • Primary Offer: upcoming event or new offer
  • Secondary Event or Offer
  • Feature Highlight (i.e. hotel or restaurants)
  • Photos from Past Events

From here, you can get start detailing which offers and highlights you want to include in each campaign. It can be as simple as a few ideas in a notebook or as detailed as a complete marketing calendar. Then, when it's time to create the content, half of your work will already be done.

Optimizing for Responsive Design

Now that you've got an idea of what you're going to include in each campaign, here are a few tips to keep in mind as you design and format your content and your messages.

  1. Prioritize. Lead with the most important offer. You want the customer to get the point of the message without scrolling at all. Create a clear call to action and place it near the top of the email so it jumps right out at the reader.
  2. Keep it Simple. A casino has a dizzying array of attractions, don't try to include all of them in one message. Instead, focus on one main attraction and push secondary offers down the page.
  3. Go Long. In email layouts for desktop readers, it has been our experience that columns generate more click-throughs. However, for emails delivered via mobile devices, a single-column message will display best on most screens and help the reader scroll down easily while still following along. Your main offer goes first, then stack secondary offers underneath.
  4. Big Fonts. Make the words big and easy to read. Generally we’ve seen 14pt. recommended for mobile with 11pt. being the minimum for items such as disclaimer copy. Headlines should be at least 22pt. Please take a moment to consider any text placed in images as well. What is readable at a desktop size may be illegible when scaled down for mobile viewing. Almost half of all smart phone users check their email on their phone when they wake up. Don't make them get up and find their glasses.
  5. Images Off. Make sure your message is crystal clear even with no images at all. Many mobile users set their email to not automatically display images. If all they see is a bunch of empty boxes and white space, they'll move on. Remember, if your buttons are images then make sure there's clear alt text specified for those, too.

Measuring the Results

This is the last and most important part of any email campaign. When you're testing new design formats, you'll want to pay the closest attention to your click-through rates. Other metrics such as your unsubscribe rate, conversions, open rate, and bounce rate are all very important to your overall campaign, but the click-through rate will help you quickly see which design elements are working and which are not.

Split testing, or A/B testing, is the gold standard in measuring email marketing effectiveness, and it's what you want to use here, too. Try a few different design elements, picture sizes, call to action placement, and different fonts and colors. Throw out whatever tanks and move forward with what is working. Soon you'll have a format that works and the rest is just plugging in different offers from your marketing calendar.

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