Responsive email: dos & don’ts

When it comes to designing a successful email marketing strategy, there are two very important reasons to incorporate responsive design.

Reason #1 – over 50% of people use their mobile phones to check email*.

Reason #2 – 80% of those people will not click on an email that doesn’t look good on their phone*.

That means if you’re not designing for mobile, you’re not reaching your audience. By adhering to a “mobile first” design approach, you’ll also enjoy increased usability and guest engagement, which allows more people to interact with your brand both online and off.

Why Is Responsive Design So Important?

Responsive design identifies the type of screen the content is being displayed on and scales itself appropriately. Basically this means if you are looking at a responsive email on your mobile phone, the code will immediately recognize the size of your screen, allowing you to easily read the content without zooming or scrolling. While it isn’t a completely standardized system yet (you’ll need to perform tests with different email clients), responsive design can dramatically improve the way your readers interact with your content, leading to increased click-through rates (CTRs) and ultimately, conversions.

Don’t: Over-Complicate Your CTA

Keep your call to action (CTA) simple and straight to the point. Employ a short yet engaging CTA that encourages readers to act immediately, whether it’s clicking for a special offer or learning more about an upcoming event.

Do: Use Stackable Content

Using simple solutions like changing two or three-column layouts to a single column will ensure your content reads well across all devices, including apps.

Don’t: Forget to Leave White Space

What you put into your email design is just as important as what you leave out. Make sure your content has room to breathe. If your targets and content are on top of each other, readers will get flustered and delete your email.

Do: Lead with the Important Content

You only have a few moments to grab your reader’s interest and get them to click. Keep your important selling points and CTA above the fold for instant engagement.

Don’t: Use Tiny Fonts

Mobile phones are getting bigger, but the screens are still fairly small. Use readable fonts in the right size to make sure your viewers can clearly read your emails, which means a minimum of 13 pixels. You’ll also need to keep your fonts and background images in high contrast to increase readability.

Do: Hide Unnecessary Preheaders, Navigation & Footer Info

Your email is not your website. Readers are more likely to scan content, so it’s important to leave out visual clutter. Don’t waste precious real estate with preheaders, your entire website navigation and bulky footers. Simplify your design and keep your marketing messages in the spotlight.

Don’t: Be Afraid to Change or Hide Content

There’s nothing wrong with stripping down your content for a better user experience. Instead of duplicating your website, trim the copy and hide or replace content to optimize your main message.

Do: Optimize Your Images

In addition to sharpening your images for the high density retina displays and optimizing them for page load speed, you’ll also need to ensure each image retains its context at a reduced size. This may mean cropping the image or choosing a different one altogether.

Do: Use Large, Tappable Buttons

If you’ve ever used a smart phone, you know how frustrating tiny buttons can be. Make sure your links and buttons are at least 44 x 44 pixels.

Above All: Test, Test, and Retest

The only way ensure that your email looks, reads, and acts the way you intended is through testing. You never want to present your clients with a disappointing user experience. Test your design in a variety of email clients and mobile devices to make sure everything loads and responds correctly. While it can be somewhat time consuming, the benefits of testing your email far outweighs the extra time it takes to get it right.

Download our Free Email Template

There’s never been a better time to start optimizing your emails with responsive design. At Cendyn/ONE, we’re experts at creating dynamic and responsive email campaigns designed to help your property stand out from the competition. Download our free email template today and use the tips we’ve provided above to get 2016 off to the right start.


*Statistics from

With contributions and editorial guidance by Allison Goldstein