Did you know there are no compatibility standards for email? When you hit send after spending 22 minutes on a beautifully crafted marketing document, you really have no idea what’s going to arrive in the recipient’s inbox. Each email client will render the message according to its own rules and preferences. Add to that the growing popularity of mobile devices with varying screen sizes and graphics settings, and you have the perfect storm. Or maybe we should call it soup. I was once in a room where four of us received the same corporate message at the same time. When viewed on our four devices, there was almost no resemblance to the original message.
Enter Responsive Email
Responsive email, much like responsive websites, reads the recipient’s email program, device type, and screen size, and then reorganizes the message’s structure to improve the reading experience. Mobile devices have become such an important sector of web traffic that Google made a change to its ranking algorithm this summer. Websites that are not mobile responsive are now being ranked lower than less popular but responsive websites. Yes, they’re penalizing the unresponsive sites.
Back to email. There’s a partial solution available. Speak with your IT department to determine which provider offers the best responsive email solution for your needs. Just bear in mind that there is no 100% solution out there. For example, Windows 7.5 is responsive-compatible, but Windows 7 and Windows 8 are not. Android email is compatible, but Android Gmail is not. Go figure.
In the meantime, a few simple guidelines may help.
- Don’t ever paste text into an email message from Word. You will wind up with invisible wonky HTML code that will do unforgivable things to your message — but you won’t see it — only some of your recipients will.
- Marketing emails containing graphics should include the main message in a text paragraph as well. Make sure your key points are contained within the text as the graphic may be stripped out by spam filters or may not display properly.
- Be careful about using clickable graphics in your email signature. They will show up as empty squares or ugly red x’s in many mobile email programs.
- To ensure your broadcast message will be received properly, test it out first on as many different platforms and mobile devices as you can.
- Use basic fonts that are known to work in multiple platforms: Arial, Verdana, Georgia and Times New Roman are good choices.
Enjoy the infographic below, courtesy of Visual.ly and Litmus. There are some interesting figures about the move toward mobile.