Responsive Design's Dangerous Impact on Engagement

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Delivering relevant content at the specific moment when consumers are looking to make decisions remains very powerful, boosting retention and strengthening relationships. However, as email open rates decline due to the overall swell in email volume, marketers are finding it increasingly difficult to reach consumers' inboxes, leading many to believe responsive design holds the secret to future success.
Mobile Engagement

Delivering relevant content at the specific moment when consumers are looking to make decisions remains very powerful, boosting retention and strengthening relationships. However, as email open rates decline due to the overall swell in email volume, marketers are finding it increasingly difficult to reach consumers' inboxes, leading many to believe responsive design holds the secret to future success.With mobile engagement on the rise, many brands are looking to increase email open rates no matter the device, for they understand that consumer behaviors continue to evolve daily. Yet, while responsive design may appear to be the easiest and most attractive way to quickly convert one platform's campaigns to fit any size screen, marketers may want to think again.

"Responsive design just makes emails designed for desktops look 'okay' on a mobile device, and has slowed marketers down from focusing on designing and testing mobile-only emails," says Neil Rosen, CEO and founder of eWayDirect. "They need to test, test, and test some more until they understand how their unique mobile users perform, designs and promotions are they likely to find engaging. There are no shortcuts here."

Just as companies segment customers by demographics or interests, they must also begin to look at how these individuals engage with the brand on specific devices. Of course, such tests will reveal something different for each company. For instance, while many find text-only emails work very well, graphics are typically more attention grabbing and drive action. However, graphics without great content will never deliver solid results.

As content marketing itself assumes a larger part of the average marketer's repertoire, companies must consider these three essential components for success:

1. The alliance of copy and graphics so that they complement each other.
2. The timeliness and relevance of the content being shared.
3. The ability to repurpose content to offer customers and prospects multiple views in a short period of time.

Mobile, of course, will continue to gain momentum and dominate the space, meaning companies must figure out what types of campaigns will work for them across devices. The advent of wearables also necessitates enhanced strategies, as these smaller screens require smaller, more powerful images with simple, strong calls to action in order to sustain readers' attention.

While responsive design enables marketers to disseminate the same message across devices in an attractive format, this tactic doesn't allow marketers to account for varying consumer behaviors across these differing devices. Readers on desktops engage with content much differently than those on smartphones or tablets, potentially creating a rift between them and the content itself. Thus, marketers must move beyond responsive design and create specific device campaigns, for responsive design limits their ability to tailor content to the given consumer type based upon their device of choice.

No matter the device, however, email remains the most profitable of all marketing channels, and will likely maintain its position for the foreseeable future. But, whether marketers are designing campaigns for desktop, mobile, or wearable, success ultimately stems from their constant testing.

"The beauty of the Internet," Rosen says, "is how quickly marketers can go from clueless to brilliant through a regimented testing program." Therefore, every brand must persistently segment their email subscriber lists by device type and test variations of each campaign, erasing responsive design's constrictive nature from their strategy entirely. Marketers may soon see significant budget movement to customer acquisition and email list building, and with its low cost, more email will inevitably equate to more revenue. Thus, marketers who can build their lists through clear strategies, targeted budgets, and tailored campaigns will be the ones to succeed.

EXPERT OPINION
EXPERT OPINION