What Is A Responsive Email Design? Best Practices & 4 Examples

Learn about responsive email design and optimize your emails for mobile devices. Explore four successful examples of responsive email designs.

What Is A Responsive Email Design? Best Practices & 4 Examples
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Do not index
Responsive email design is a crucial component of modern email marketing campaigns. In an age where most people check their emails on a mobile device, having emails that are not just visually pleasing and easy to read on desktop, but also on mobile is vital. The email design is responsive when all elements adapt to whatever device is being used to view the email. It's important because a well-designed email can be the difference between a click and a delete. And with so many businesses sending emails, it makes sense to stand out with a responsive design.

What Is A Responsive Email Design?

Responsive Email Design
Responsive Email Design
One common method of hybrid design is setting a maximum pixel-based width and a percentage-based width. This means hybrid emails will render similarly on different sizes of display screens. Hybrid designs may not be ideal for all email clients, as max width properties are not supported on Outlook.

Benefits of Responsive Email Design

Responsive email design is all about providing content customized for your user's chosen device.
  • This ensures that emails will always render correctly regardless of the device they are viewed on. This is great news as favorite devices continue to rapidly change and even more devices are being introduced into the market.
  • With responsive design, you can send email templates that change depending on the screen size they are viewed on. This allows you to provide different call to action depending on the size of your user's device screen, making it a truly mobile-friendly design strategy.

Factors Affecting How An Email Is Displayed

Responsive Email Design
Responsive Email Design

Device's Screen Size

In responsive email design, I can tell you that the screen size of the device on which an email is viewed plays a significant role in how the design will be rendered. Each device, whether a desktop, smartphone, or tablet, has different screen sizes that affect how the email content is displayed.
For example, desktops have larger screens that can display more content and allow for easier navigation, while smartphones have smaller screens that may lead to content being condensed and more challenging to read and interact with.

User's Email Client

Email clients are another factor that can affect the design of an email. Email clients are the programs or platforms that subscribers use to view their emails, such as Apple Mail, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, or Outlook. Each email client has its own way of displaying emails, so a one-size-fits-all approach to email design is not effective.
For instance, an email designed to look great in Apple Mail may not render well in Gmail or Outlook due to differences in how these email clients interpret code and display content.

Why Is A Responsive Email Design Important?

Responsive Email Design
Responsive Email Design
Responsive email design ensures that the email content and layout automatically adapt to the user's device, whether it's a smartphone, tablet, or desktop computer. This provides an optimal viewing experience and makes the email easy to read and interact with, regardless of the screen size.

Increased Engagement and Conversions

Emails that are not responsive and don't display well on mobile devices can lead to a poor user experience, causing subscribers to disengage or abandon the email altogether. Responsive design helps keep users engaged and increases the chances of them taking the desired action, such as clicking through to a website or making a purchase.

Compatibility Across Devices

With the growing number of people accessing emails on mobile devices, a responsive design ensures that the email looks and functions consistently across different devices and email clients. This helps maintain brand consistency and professionalism.

Reduced Bounce Rates

Non-responsive emails that are difficult to read or navigate on mobile devices can result in high bounce rates, as users quickly exit the email. Responsive design minimizes this issue and keeps users engaged with the content.

Improved Accessibility

Responsive email design takes into account the needs of users with visual impairments or disabilities, making the content more accessible and easier to consume on various devices.

Competitive Advantage

In today's digital landscape, responsive email design has become a standard expectation for subscribers. Businesses that adopt responsive design can gain a competitive edge by providing a better user experience compared to non-responsive email campaigns.

How To Make Your Emails Responsive

Responsive Email Design
Responsive Email Design
To make emails responsive, we utilize media queries in the HTML code, which are essentially a unique set of CSS styles that act like conditional statements or dynamic rules. These queries help in enhancing the readability of emails on various screens.
Here's how it works:
  • Media queries open with the @media at-rule, followed by the 'only' keyword.
  • It further restricts the application of media queries to a specific media type.
  • Next comes the 'media type,' commonly screens and printers, followed by the 'and' keyword.
  • The media features, like max-width, are the core of the media query, comparing the browser or device's available space.
For instance, setting the max-width at 480px implies that a screen of 480px or smaller triggers the CSS code embedded within the @media attribute. This choice is justified as 480px is a standard mobile screen width in landscape orientation, ideal for responsive design.

Increasing Text Size for Better Legibility

Adjusting the text size in emails using media queries is crucial. For mobile screens, increasing the font size to 16px is recommended for better readability. The following code demonstrates this:
@media only screen and (max-width: 480px){
.bodyContent{font-size:16px !important;}

Making Images Adaptable to Screen Size

In responsive design, images must adapt to the screen to avoid horizontal scrolling issues. To achieve this, fluid and adaptable images are necessary, with a code snippet like this:
@media only screen and (max-width: 480px){
height:auto !important;
max-width:600px !important;
width: 100% !important;

Making CTA Buttons Responsive

CTA buttons in emails must be easily clickable and recognizable, especially on smaller screens. Adjusting the button's width, increasing text size, and changing the link to a block-level element ensures better functionality:
@media only screen and (max-width: 480px){
max-width:600px !important;
width:100% !important;
.emailButton a{
display:block !important;
font-size:18px !important;
In some cases, transforming links into clickable buttons enhances user experience. By adding border-bottom to each link and distinguishing them from other elements, the links become easier to tap and interact with:
@media only screen and (max-width: 480px){
background-color:#E1E1E1 !important;
border-bottom:10px solid #FFFFFF;
display:block !important;
font-size:15px !important;
padding:15px 0 !important;
text-align:center !important;
width:100% !important;
.utilityLinkContent a{
color:#606060 !important;
display:block !important;
text-decoration:none !important;

Complete Step-by-Step Guide On How To Use Mailsplash’s All-in-one AI Email Solution To Design Responsive Emails

Getting Started: Uploading Brands and Products

Before you can generate an email, you’ll need to upload a brand and product.
notion image
Navigate to the “Brands” tab and select “Add a Brand”. Once you’ve defined the brand’s name, logo(s), font(s), and color(s), you can upload your product(s).
You can do so by simply pasting in the product link, which will auto-populate the product description, name, and images, as seen below. Now you’re ready to design and write stunning emails with Mailsplash.

Design & Write Emails with Mailsplash: A Guide

Generate with AI

notion image
Not sure where to start? From your dashboard, click “Generate with AI” to get to ideating. Simply select the brand(s) and product(s) you’ve uploaded and describe the email you’re looking for (e.g. an email campaign promoting new pants on sale for 25% off). You can even define the design style you’re looking for!
notion image
If you’re feeling like a pro, click “Advanced Setup” to get more detailed access to other parameters such as your target audience, the type of email, and so on. Once you’re happy, click generate and watch the magic happen! In 30 seconds or less, you’ll have a email custom-tailored to your input.

Start from Template

notion image
Already know what kind of email you’re looking to create? You can then click “Start from Template” and browse through our gallery of templates, curated for the most common use cases. We currently support 21 templates for 7 different categories, but will be continuing to update this based on your feedback! Once you select an email type, you’ll be prompted to select a brand and product and be taken straight to the builder.

Sending Emails: Integrate with Any ESP

notion image
When exporting your email generation, you’ll be able to integrate with Klaviyo by inputting your API key. It’s as simple as that. We’re working on adding support for other major ESPs!
Now you should be well-equipped to save time and money on your email marketing.
Still confused? Have feedback? Let us know by sending us an email.

4 Examples Of A Responsive Email Design

Responsive Email Design
Responsive Email Design

1. Mulburry Responsive Email Design Example

In the Mulburry responsive email design example, the desktop version of the email featured a sophisticated layout with high-quality images and clear call-to-action. When viewed on mobile, the email smoothly transitioned to a single-column layout, with resized images and buttons for easy tapping on smaller screens.

2. House Of Fraser Responsive Email Design Example

The House Of Fraser responsive email design example showcased a visually appealing desktop design with a mix of images and text. The mobile version of the email adapted seamlessly by stacking the content in a single column, ensuring readability and ease of navigation on smaller screens.

3. Toms Newsletter Responsive Email Design Example

Toms Newsletter's responsive email design started with a desktop version featuring multiple images and sections of content. When viewed on mobile, the email transformed into a single-column layout, ensuring that all elements remained visible and accessible without compromising the visual appeal.

4. McDonald's Responsive Email Design Example

The McDonald's responsive email design example included a desktop version showcasing their branding, images, and offers. On mobile devices, the email smoothly transitioned into a mobile-friendly layout, with resized images and buttons to provide a seamless user experience across different devices.

5 Best Practices For Creating A Responsive Email Design

Responsive Email Design
Responsive Email Design

1. Utilize a Single Column Layout

In responsive email design, it's best to stick to a single column layout. This helps reduce shifting and moving, making it easier for your audience to read your content. By maintaining a single column, you ensure that your email looks great and is easily digestible on any device, whether a phone, tablet, or desktop.

2. Opt for Readable Font Sizes

When crafting your email, make sure to use no less than 13- or 14-point font for the body text. For titles, opt for no smaller than 20-point font. These font sizes ensure that your email is easily readable on smaller screens, increasing the chances of your audience engaging with your content.

3. Place Your Most Important Content Above the Fold

The term “above the fold” comes from print journalism and refers to placing your most important content where it's readily accessible without requiring your audience to scroll. This is crucial because it captures the attention of your reader right from the get-go. By ensuring that the key information or call-to-action is visible without scrolling, you increase the likelihood of conversions and engagement.
Avoid using hyperlinks in your emails, as they can be challenging to tap accurately on a small screen, potentially leading to user frustration. Opt for big, tappable buttons instead, making it easy for your readers to engage with your content without accidental clicks.

5. Employ Small, Responsive Images with Alt Tags

In your email design, use smaller, responsive images or double the resolution for retina screens. Ensure that you include alt tags for all images. This practice is not only beneficial for accessibility but also helps in case an email client fails to load your images. By incorporating alt tags, you provide context and information even when visuals are not displayed.

6. Test Your Email Design

Before sending out your email campaign, it's crucial to test your design. Utilize services like Litmus or Email on Acid to preview how your email will appear in various inboxes. This step helps you identify any potential design issues or glitches, ensuring that your email looks polished before reaching your audience. Once the email is sent, you can't retract it, so thorough testing is essential.

Create Fully-Built Stunning Email Templates That Convert With Mailsplash

Mailsplash is an AI-powered tool designed to help you generate visually appealing and highly converting email templates in just a matter of minutes. With Mailsplash, you can effortlessly design and create impressive email campaigns that are tailored to your specific preferences and needs. This tool is particularly useful for freelancers, brands, and agencies looking for a cost-effective solution for creating personalized email campaigns. Mailsplash allows you to send your emails using any email service provider, such as Mailchimp or Klaviyo.
From email copywriting to personalized branded email template design, Mailsplash provides an all-in-one email solution that you can try out for free today. Say goodbye to the hassle of traditional marketing agencies and welcome a more efficient and affordable way to create personalized email campaigns that drive results.

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Daniel Kwon

Written by

Daniel Kwon

Hi! I'm Dan Kwon, a growth hacker and digital innovator who first gained social proof by hitting a million social media followers at 17. I founded an AI writing tool startup, propelling it to $1M ARR and over a million users in just 3 months, leading to a successful exit. My specialty lies in creating viral brand identities and understanding Gen Z’s digital marketing landscape. I'm always ready to share practical, real-world insights in digital marketing.

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