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Test your gut: Did the responsive email win?

Posted by Bridget Fair on January 16, 2014

Email marketers are a unique breed. We spend our days immersed in all stages of email development, researching the latest technology and design trends, and keeping up with constantly evolving email best practices. This means that email marketers are often more tech-savvy than the average person. However, do you know how tech-savvy your audience is?

It is important to remember that your audience may have knowledge, interests, behaviors and preferences that are vastly different from yours. Email design that greatly appeals to you may not have the desired impact on your audience.

As email marketers, we’re used to interacting with emails on a mobile device is commonplace, so it’s no surprise we are drawn to responsive emails that provide a mobile-friendly experience. But successful email marketing is not about accommodating our preferences; it’s about accommodating our audience. So we needed to learn if our audience prefers mobile-friendly, responsive emails.

To this end, we recently tested two emails within an abandon stream. The emails targeted customers who abandoned an enrollment form and reminded them to finish signing up. Both emails leveraged similar creative and messaging approaches. The main difference was that Email B utilized responsive design and programming, while Email A did not.

So which email do you think performed better: Email A or Email B?


Email B

And the winner is…

Email B with responsive design drove 11% more conversions than Email A.

Here are a few key reasons why.

Over 50% of email views were on a mobile device or tablet.
Implementing responsive design likely won’t have a major impact on email performance if your audience is just viewing emails on a desktop or with webmail. But that was not the case with our email recipients. More than half of the email recipients were able to enjoy an optimal viewing experience on their handheld devices, making them more likely to read the email and take action.

Email copy was easier to scan on a mobile device.
Email B’s responsive programming automatically adjusted the size and layout of the email copy to make it easy to read on any device. For example, on a mobile device the copy adjusted to fit the width of the phone so viewers could read all email text without any horizontal scrolling. The font size also adjusted for each device, but to ensure legibility it was never smaller than 14 pixels.

Email A and B both feature streamlined, instructional copy; however, Email B used slightly differently formatting. In Email B, each instructional step began with a short, simple action word. Each of these action words stood out with a bold blue font. The design allowed viewers to effortlessly scan the email on any device, find the most important copy to focus on and immediately understand the required action.

Email links were easy to find and click on any device.
Emails A and B both contained strong calls-to-action and numerous links to the enrollment page. However, the placement of these links varied between the two emails. When viewing Email A on a desktop, email recipients could easily find clickable buttons and hyperlinks at a glance. But mobile viewers had to scroll down 3 to 4 times before seeing the first clickable link.

Contrast that with Email B, which placed a link to the enrollment form directly under a compelling, concise headline. This made it easy for viewers to quickly read the headline and take action without any further scrolling.

The call-to-action button at the base of Email B was also optimized for mobile and tablet viewing. The button was large enough that it was easy to tap on a touchscreen, and contained extra padding to ensure a touch-friendly experience.



It’s all about your audience
Congratulations if you correctly guessed the winner of this test. But remember that to ensure successful email marketing campaigns, you cannot rely solely on your preferences. You must figure out what your audience best responds to.

That is why email testing is so important. Every company is unique, and each audience has different behaviors and preferences. Only testing will accurately uncover the techniques and design strategy that will result in optimal response rates for you.

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Topics: Email Marketing

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