Fresh Ink

February 1, 2016
Author: Christina Hagopian

Grow Your E-Commerce Business with Responsive Email

Design responsive email campaigns and build your business

I recently attended the W2 Womens’ Entrepreneur conference and the e-commerce panel discussion centered around the greatest return on investment for increasing sales. My favorite response: “Everyone is talking about social media, but how many times do you check Facebook and Twitter a day and how many times do you check your email?

“We all live in our inbox.” It’s why email marketing has continued to rank as the best channel for ROI, and why my studio has a strong focus on designing responsive email campaigns.

For the past several years, Google research has concluded that consumers frequently start shopping on one device and finish on another. Your most active shoppers are connected all day, and your emails should help them every step of the way. The following recommendations will ensure your email campaigns generate the results you seek.

Steer your clicks
Set your intention and call to action for each campaign and guide your audience. Lead your subscribers to your best-selling products, new collections, sale items and store openings by creating bold, graphic buttons with tempting language that scream “ACT.”

Size matters
Designing responsive email requires careful consideration of how and where your subscribers view your content. Are they on the go, walking and navigating while viewing their phone? Are they lounging on their couch at home with an iPad, or commuting on the subway or bus, sifting through their inbox? Are they in a coffee shop on their laptop or at work on their desktop? Each scenario determines image and button scale, text length and size. Consider larger, more simplified designs for phones; wider for iPads; and more detailed for desktops. Decide how you want to scale and edit for each device, then develop appropriately.

Navigate your nav
Your emails should be a mini window into your e-commerce site experience, the retail appetizer to your shopping entrée. Pick your top three to four shopping categories and create an at-a-glance email navigation system. Allow your logo and navigation items to scale and slide responsively to create an easy-to-click experience. Create a grid for your emails that provides flexibility at multiple break points.

Entry into an exclusive club
A key element in designing email for e-commerce is creating a sense of exclusivity and ensuring that your audience is certain they are the FIRST to know about all important announcements, sales and product launches. Always add value and provide a reason to continue to subscribe.

Pepsico, a newsletter featuring all Pepsi and Frito Lay brands is optimized for desktop, tablet and mobile, and offers exclusive contests, chances to win, news and deals only to subscribers. Even when you forward an email to a friend, they must be a subscriber to be eligible to win and access content.

Share your brand story
Create an email content calendar that paces, educates and attracts subscribers into your world. Share relevant press coverage, best-selling products, tips and secrets. Invite fans into your social circle. Contact frequently, but do not bombard — just enough to keep them wanting more.

Celebrity jeweler Melissa Kaye effectively uses responsive design. The company’s content calendar includes best-selling products, celebrity followers, designer interviews, press features and more. Each email is carefully crafted to unveil a brand story, sure to inspire intrigue, product interest and clicks.

Once you’ve built an e-commerce site, the greatest challenge is driving traffic to it, then converting that traffic into customers. The biggest mistake I frequently see is having a “if you build it, they will come” mentality. In today’s crowded marketplace, a brand must remind customers and fans of all its unique products and offerings — and frequently. Building a loyal brand following that can speak anytime, anywhere through responsive email is a sure way to get there.

Originally published on, May 6, 2015

Marketing insights + best practices delivered monthly.