Designing for all devices: Rendering Email Marketing issues

by | Nov 23, 2023

In this article
7 min read

If you have created a fantastic email campaign that doesn’t display correctly on your customer’s screen, your campaign has already failed before your content has a chance to impress anyone. While your campaign’s design may look impressive to you, have you tested how it will appear on your customer’s device? Also, have you ideas on how to resolve those email marketing rendering issues?

Your customers use a variety of devices and software to view your email campaign, including laptops with larger screens, mobile phones with smaller screens, and tablets with screens that fall in between. Statistics show that there is a significant increase in email opens on mobile phones compared to desktop or webmail.

Therefore, ensuring that your email appears as intended on all devices and email services can be a challenging task. However, there is a solution to this problem: responsive design. In simple terms, responsive design detects the user’s device and automatically adjusts your email to display correctly on it. Let’s explore how responsive design can make your email look impressive on any device.

How do I make my email suitable for all devices?

email rendering issues

Imagine you’re wearing a versatile outfit that effortlessly adjusts to any occasion or environment. Whether you’re attending a formal event or engaging in outdoor activities, your attire seamlessly adapts to suit the situation.

Similarly, responsive email design operates on the same principle. It ensures that the content of your email adjusts and moulds itself to fit any screen size or device, just like a liquid flowing into a container and taking its shape.

Another example that illustrates this concept is a flexible rubber band. When you stretch a rubber band, it expands and contracts to accommodate different objects or sizes.

In the same way, responsive email design expands or contracts its layout and content to perfectly fit the screen dimensions of the device being used to view it. Whether it’s a large desktop monitor, a compact smartphone screen, or a tablet, the responsive design ensures that your email looks visually appealing and functions optimally on any device.

By combining the fluidity of a liquid and the adaptability of a rubber band, responsive design creates an email experience that seamlessly adjusts to any screen, providing an optimized view and interaction for the user.

Strategies for Device-Responsive Emails

email rendering

Here are some strategies for designing device-responsive emails:

Use a Responsive Email Template

Start with a responsive email template provided by your email marketing platform or create a custom template using responsive design techniques. Responsive templates use CSS media queries to adapt the layout based on the device’s screen size.

Single Column Layout

Opt for a single-column layout to simplify the design and ensure that content stacks vertically on smaller screens. This layout adapts well to both narrow mobile screens and wider desktop displays.

Clear and Concise Content

Craft clear and concise content to make your message easily digestible. Break up text into short paragraphs and use headings to organize information. This approach not only improves readability but also helps when the content is stacked on smaller screens.

Large, Tappable Buttons

Design buttons with touch-friendly dimensions. Ensure that buttons are large enough to be easily tapped on touchscreens. Leave enough padding around buttons to prevent accidental clicks and make your calls-to-action (CTAs) stand out.

Optimized Images

Enhance images by minimizing their file size while maintaining quality. Reduced file sizes contribute to faster loading times, particularly on mobile networks. Use responsive images that can scale based on the screen size. Include descriptive alt text for images to provide context in case they don’t load.

Readable Font Sizes

Choose font sizes that are easily readable on various devices. Aim for a minimum font size of 14px for body text and larger for headings. Use web-safe fonts to ensure consistent rendering across different email clients.

Alt Text for Images

Add descriptive alt text to images. Alt text is displayed when images are blocked or not loaded. It provides essential information about the image content, ensuring that users can understand the message even without seeing the images.


Test your emails on different devices and email clients. Most email marketing platforms provide preview options for various devices. Check the rendering on smartphones, tablets, and desktops to identify any issues and make necessary adjustments.

Media Queries

Implement media queries in your email’s HTML. Media queries allow you to apply specific styles based on the device’s characteristics, such as screen size and resolution. This enables you to create a more customized and optimized experience for users on different devices.

Progressive Disclosure

Consider implementing progressive disclosure for additional content. Start with the most important information visible and provide links or buttons for users to access more detailed content if they choose. This approach helps to keep the initial view simple and focused.

Case Study – Optimizing Crocs Email Marketing

When DEG Digital undertook the task of creating responsive emails for the shoe retailer Crocs, they initiated a comprehensive testing plan to understand and optimize the redesign’s outcomes.

In the initial test, a three-way creative division was implemented:

  • Group A received a static desktop version.
  • Group B received a static mobile version.
  • Group C received a responsive email design.

While clicks and opens were generally consistent across all three versions, the responsive design showed slightly higher engagement. The total revenue and revenue per email were the highest for the responsive version, followed by desktop, and then mobile. Both responsive and desktop designs achieved the highest Average Order Value (AOV).

In a subsequent test, Crocs utilized an email with a less discount-focused approach and adjusted link tracking methods for more accurate results. This test involved a 50/50 split, with one half receiving a desktop email and the other a responsive email.

The results of the second test were notable:

  • The responsive design exhibited an overall 7.66% increase in the click-to-open rate.
  • iPhone ‘read’ engagement saw a substantial 15.63% improvement for the responsive version compared to the desktop version. Given that over 25% of all opens occurred on iPhones, optimizing for this device became particularly crucial for Crocs.
  • Mobile ‘read’ engagement experienced an 8.82% lift for the responsive version over the desktop version.
  • Revenue on the mobile site remained consistent for both versions.
  • However, revenue on the desktop site was lower for the responsive version, but it’s worth noting that Crocs has since launched a new responsive design website.
  • In summary, these tests demonstrated the advantages of responsive email design, showcasing improved engagement metrics and the importance of tailoring email content for specific devices, especially considering the significant share of opens occurring on iPhones for Crocs.


Designing for all devices is crucial in ensuring that email marketing campaigns are successful. With the diverse range of devices that people use to access their emails, it is important to ensure that the email is rendered correctly on all of them. This can be achieved by using responsive design techniques, optimizing images and using clear and concise messaging. By focusing on the needs of the user, email marketers can create campaigns that are engaging and effective, regardless of the device being used.

Ultimately, designing for all devices is essential in ensuring that email marketing campaigns are accessible to everyone, resulting in higher engagement and conversion rates.

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