Did you know that more than 40 percent of all mobile marketers admit that their email content is not optimized for display on smartphone and tablet screens? Given that approximately half of their subscribers are using just those types of devices to access their email marketing content, this omission has to rank right up there with the great business screw-ups of all time such as failing to check the financials in the AOL-Time Warner merger, or trusting your life savings to that really nice guy Bernie Madoff. Mobile email marketing isn’t just the future as it has evolved so quickly that it is now very clearly the present, and any online marketers who have not already made it their prime priority are destined to bright careers in washing cars and flipping burgers.

Horizontal scrolling or vertical telephone pole?

Just in case you’ve been sleeping in a cave for the past half decade allow me to bring you up to speed. If your emails do not display properly on the mind-bogglingly broad variety of screens from the tiniest barely three inch smartphone all the way up to the 30 inch desktop monster, then you are effectively selecting a portion of your email subscription customer base and informing them that your competitor is really great and they should rush on over there right away. The necessity to cater to all of the various display formats is absolutely critical as your mobile customer is going to be just as frustrated at horizontally scrolling through your over-wide email layout as the large monitor desktop customer is going to be perplexed by the fact that your email layout is as awkwardly vertical as a telephone pole.

RWD can be wondrous or pathetic

The answer, of course, is responsive web design (RWD). Yes, it’s sometimes referred in the email marketing world as responsive email design but then the acronym becomes RED and that’s confusing. Like everything else in the technological universe there are endless ways to use RWD in a wondrous and in a pathetic manner. When you take that giant step which will lead you to integrate RWD into your email layouts, you have to put yourself in the position of the email subscriber who is actually going to open and view your email. Is it pleasant, clear, focused, properly-rendered, and most of all, looks like it was specifically designed just for their display resolution and aspect ratio? If the answer is yes you’re a champ and if the answer is no you’re a chump.

Consider the major breakpoints

You can easily go stark raving mad when you try to devise a layout which is best suited to each of the quadzillion resolutions out there in the wild, so you’re best off to consider a series of major breakpoints.

1. < 320 pixels may seem microscopic but it’s the only way to display well on for the small and relatively antique low resolution cell phones

2. < 480 pixels is a good breakpoint to cater to the more vintage and smaller smartphone displays

3. < 768 pixels is the current practicable standard for many of the more modern smartphones and the smaller range of tablets 4. > 768 pixels is a reasonable standard for the larger tablet screens

5. > 1024 pixels is the only way to go for most screens on laptops and desktops as well as the soon to be released 12 to 13 inch tablets like the rumored iPad Pro.

These primary resolutions are not the ultimate solution to all of your email RWD layouts as they’ll be awful on 4K screens but they will readily address the majority of the most popular displays out there in both the mobile and desktop/laptop arena and allow you to craft your layouts with finer granularity as you obtain more information about the types of screens your customers are utilizing.

Ricky Nelson famously crooned that “You can’t please everyone so you gotta please yourself” but that doesn’t necessarily work in the mobile email layout arena. You have to try and please as many subscribers as you can through intelligent implementation of RWD!