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Why You Should Use Responsive Email Templates

Responsive, was that not 2013’s buzzword? You are right in thinking that. But, as websites have become increasingly responsive, emails are hopelessly lacking behind. This is especially true for internal communications newsletters.

Plan for Internal Newsletters in SharePoint

1. Why You Should be Sending Newsletters to Your Employees
2. How to Write an Internal Newsletter Your Employees Will Want to Read
3. 10 Topic Ideas to Help You Jumpstart your Internal Newsletter Campaign
4. Why Your Internal Newsletter Communications Should Be About Security, Too
5. How You Can Use Insights Into Your Internal Newsletter Campaign to Boost Results
6. How to Turn Your SharePoint into the Ultimate Engagement Platform
7. How Information Architecture Will Help You Automate Content Delivery
8. Responsive Email Templates, Why Do We Use Them?
9. Newsletter Metrics, Link Clicks and Opens, How They Work

Too often internal communications managers assume that their emails will only get opened on office computers – probably solely in Outlook. As a result, they send out emails that on mobile devices look like collapsed pudding. This is worrisome. Research shows again and again that at least half of the time employees open emails on their phone first. And this is a percentage that is growing.

Why You Should Use Responsive Email Templates

With these numbers in mind, it should be needless to say that responsive templates for your internal newsletters are not only a recommendation; they are an absolute must in the current internal communications climate.

So, why is not everyone using them yet? And what does a good responsive template look like? More importantly, what factors should you consider when creating or choosing a responsive email template? I will address these questions in this post.

Why Aren’t Responsive Emails the Norm?

There is a simple explanation for this. People are simply (sadly really) not informed of the numbers of email opens across platforms. This is why the tracking and measuring of your internal newsletter campaigns is crucial to good internal communications.

What Is Possible?

In theory, everything is possible. Your responsive template can be extremely simple to heavily complex. It all depends on the end result you have in mind – and on how HTML savvy you are. So let’s quickly explore what sort of things I am speaking about when I say you can do everything.

To begin, you can change the hierarchy and navigation per device the newsletter is opened on. Just as well, you can alter font sizes, colors, layout and image sizes. You can even choose to have some content only show up when the email is opened on a smartphone.

A small disclaimer: You have to be fluent in HTML to be able to alter all of these. And even then it can be difficult, as your emails won’t look the same across mobile devices running different OS’s. Fortunately, you will be able to find many ready-made responsive email templates online. You could opt to use one of those or even slightly alter them before using.

You will be able to find some good tutorials for making your own responsive email templates on the web. I think you’ll find some of the best here, here and here.

What Does a Good Responsive Email Template Look Like?

A good responsive email template is one that looks good on all devices. By good here I do not mean exactly the same. Emails can look different across devices, as long as they are clean, readable and attractive looking.

Why You Should Use Responsive Email Templates
Now, you might be asking, what does this mean in practical terms? I will not go into the HTML scripts here – there are far too many great tutorials out there that do this already – but I will give you some numbers to work with.

• It is good practice for single-column layouts to be no wider than 500 to 600 pixels when viewed on mobile devices. This will make them readable;
• For links and buttons you should maintain a target area of 44 × 44 pixels, or larger;
• The minimum font size displayed on iPhones (and most other smartphones) is 13 pixels. This is important because if you choose a smaller font the device itself will make it larger, which could totally mess up the layout you worked so hard on;
• As I mentioned before, it is possible to only let certain parts of email content show up when it is viewed on a mobile device. People’s attention spans are a lot shorter when they are working on a small screen. In practice this means you should only show the essential information for when the email is opened on a mobile device;
• When your newsletter is opened on a mobile device, make sure all design elements are centered in the upper portion of the email. This will make for a cleaner look across devices and will let you avoid design disasters.

Questions to Ask Yourself

Before building or choosing your template, you should be asking yourself 4 important questions.

1. Who is your audience?

This question might seem like an obvious one, but it is important nevertheless. Now think about who your audience really is; what do they want an email to look like. Are you sending internal newsletters in a creative industry? For instance, create a frisky template that stands out. Sending emails in a more formal environment; go for a clean cut design that has all the information in a logical, easily navigable order.

2. When do they open their emails?

We have outlined the importance of knowing when emails get opened in one of our previous posts as well. Now you can put that knowledge to use in more visual terms. People like softer, warmer colors at night, and brighter, fresh colors in the morning. Keep this in mind while creating your email template.

3. What content are you sending out?

Your template needs to fit your content. Not the other way around. In other words: it is essential to know what you are going to fill your emails with when creating your templates.

4. At what frequency are you sending?

This last question may not seem as important, but your template should reflect the frequency you are going to send an internal newsletter at. If you are going to send emails often, then make sure your template has a clear and recognizable overview of regularly incorporated items. You can be more creative with a layout when you send your newsletters only once every other month, for example.


In brief, responsive emails are a must. Really, you can’t ignore them. Because you know what? People love their phones. Did you know an average person looks at his or her phone 150 times a day? It is your job to make sure that the emails they receive, and will most probably read on their phone, look as pleasing as possible. If they don’t, chances are the email will immediately get deleted.

Especially, make sure your internal newsletters look good across devices. With the tutorials and the questions given above, you should be well on your way to making and sending out responsive emails your employees will actually read.

Do you use responsive email templates for your internal communications emails? What are the pitfalls you have come across? 

Coming up next in our Best Practices for Internal Newsletters series:
Newsletter metrics, Link clicks, and Opens, How they work.

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