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The Apple Watch: Marketing’s Big Chance to Redefine Responsive Emails

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Responsive emails are about user behavior, not just design.

When marketers think of “responsive emails,” we usually think of emails that are optimized for mobile. Basically, if you can easily click something from a smartphone and it looks good, then it’s responsive.

A lot of the time, that’s as far as responsive design efforts go. The reality, though, is that customers who check email on their smartphones are likely doing far different things than customers who are checking email on their home computers.

Responsive design according to mobile device is great, but responsive design according to mobile behavior is better.

That’s why the Apple Watch is our chance to redefine responsive email. Whatever the adoption rate for this watch, it shows that screens – and our relationship with them – is going to keep evolving. For mobile emails to stay relevant, they need to provide utility at every touchpoint, from laptop to television, from phone to watch.

And to redefine responsive emails, we need to first redefine email.

Designing for Behavior

As mobile devices proliferate, marketers need to transform email from a channel of static communication to valuable, real-time interaction. The reason is simple: people who use their watches to check their emails are going to respond to emails a lot differently than the people who check them on their computers or phones.

Marketers who responsively design according to behavior have huge opportunities to create new experiences. Imagine how customers could interact with emails from the Apple Watch – or any smart watch, for that matter. Hotels, for example, are already planning to let guests use their watches to unlock their rooms.

What if this also triggered an email with loyalty rewards and suggestions for how to redeem it? The loyalty email could pull in individual subscriber data and show your points and you wouldn’t even have to reach for your phone. And, when you do reach for your phone, the email content could change to display the top local restaurants or sightseeing spots.

Retail emails could provide similar functions. If you design an email that can change dynamically according to the device (which is crucial, considering it’s the year of multiple devices, not the year of mobile), you could have emails that respond to watches by displaying a discount QR code. The customer could flash the code to a clerk to activate it.

An event reminder could show a real-time countdown, making use of the watch’s display function. A limited-time offer could do the same. Banks could use emails to dynamically display your balance or your credit card rewards – and the nearest places you could redeem them.

All of this is already possible when you power your emails with contextual marketing technology.

Emails for Every Environment

As an ecosystem of multiple screens grows, the way that customers perceive different devices will shrink. As the Internet of Things spreads to coffee machines, refrigerators, and more, we’ll no longer think of different appliances and devices as “smart”– if we need to check our email, we’ll just check our email from the device closest to us.

This is why responsive design for emails should take into account both design and behavior. That way, the email will always be relevant to the recipient’s needs at that moment. Irrelevant emails get deleted. And, whether it’s on a watch, a phone, or a computer, a deleted email has the same result on every device.

Want to learn more about taking responsive design to the next level?

Download Re:New Responsive Email Strategies and you’ll learn:

– How customers are using mobile devices today

– How marketers need to think of “responsive” in a mobile-first world

– Five different ways you can create next-generation responsive emails


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