Mobile First: Send Smart
This means that, unlike traditional desktop email viewing, mobile email viewing introduces a number of variables, ranging from location and time to surrounding circumstances and outside stimuli. Currently, the top locations for checking email on mobile devices include public transportation, restaurants, coffee shops, in the bathroom, waiting in line and even at a desk while in front of a computer.
Marketers Must Be the Ones to Adapt
While marketers cannot account for all external variables, they can follow some guidelines to ensure they are using the mobile channel in the most effective manner. The overall idea is to adapt email communications to the user, instead of the user adapting to a brand's communications.
First and foremost, users should be able to see the email on any device, from their desktops to tablets to phones—while being completely viewable and legible on each platform. Second, but equally important, the end destination the email is driving a user to must also be viewable on any device.
The answer to both of these guidelines is responsive design, a Web development approach that has a mobile-first philosophy to providing optimal viewing experiences.
The big advantage of responsive design for mobile is that emails are rendered specifically to the individual device that is opening the email, while only maintaining one single code base on the back end. This approach will not make an email perfect for every device, but it will scale elegantly across multiple devices to allow for the best customer experience, however the content is viewed.
Responsive design works by using a CSS technique to determine where the email is being opened and then renders appropriately to fit the device's screen size. A helpful tool in verifying how an email will look across multiple devices is an open source program called Responsivator, developed by John Polacek, a senior engineer at Draftfcb.