3 Takeaways from the Litmus Design Conference

This past week I had the opportunity to attend the Litmus Design Conference in San Francisco. You might be asking “Why would a strategist attend a design conference?” and if you aren’t, I know my boss is. Don’t worry – it was well worth it. I was actually amazed at how much overlap there is between design and strategy – the biggest of which is the common goal of sending out an awesome email. Out of all of the presentations, case studies, and amazing speakers, I wanted to highlight the top three takeaways from the conference – designer and strategist approved!

1. Designers are our friends, not our minions.

I’ll be the first to admit I have gone to a designer and said, “I need it done this way, can you add this in, change that picture, etc.” This is not the best approach, and ultimately, the subscribers are the ones that miss out on a better email.

Instead of being a bossypants (super technical term) try treating your designers as partners. Let them be a part of the collaboration for new campaigns, content and analysis. Yes, you read that correctly – analysis! More often than not, your designers have no idea why you’re asking them to change their blue button to green and then again to red. If they’re better educated on how the design performs, they’ll be able to adapt and grow in their skills – ultimately helping the overall email program.

2. Mobile, tablets, and Phablets – oh my!

If you haven’t already started thinking about mobile – start! According to Justine Jordan from Litmus, mobile readership has grown over 350% in just the past two years.

Litmus: These are the email open rates from the past few years.

It has surpassed desktop readership and is continuing to trend up. With new devices coming out all the time, your subscribers are on the go and interacting with your email and brand in multiple ways – like on a Phablets (those pesky in between devices such as the Galaxy Note – it’s as if a phone and a tablet had a baby)! As email marketers, in order to stay relevant and in our subscribers’ crowded inboxes, we have to adapt.

The best place to start when it comes to mobile is to look at your readership. What percent of people view on a mobile vs. desktop vs. tablet? If you’re a WhatCounts client, you can view these in your campaign details report. If you’re not a current client – you should be! Feel free to reach out to any of our well-dressed Business Development Managers to talk more about what we can do for you.

Our Business Development Team

3. Turn ‘that’ into mobile – I don’t think so!

Okay, so you’ve looked at your readership – now what? Your instinct might be to approach your designer and say, “Can you turn our current template into something that’s responsive and looks good on mobile? Thanks!” You’ll walk away thinking since you were friendly and not pushy (you said thanks, after all) you’ll get a new mobile template in a jiffy! Not quite…

Most of the time, if you were to take a template designed for desktop and that wasn’t initially designed for mobile, it’s either 1) VERY time consuming for the designer to adjust and code the current design to work on mobile or 2) Not possible.

The best approach is to work with your designer to collaborate on a redesign starting with mobile first. Look at what content is vital and start with that. Do you have a lot of readership on mobile and tablets? Make sure you take into consideration the various breaking points.

Now that I’ve shared my takeaways, I challenge everyone to step back and make sure your designer is involved early and often when making changes, analyzing results, and strategizing toward mobile redesign. Are you inspired and want to learn more about email design and designers? Litmus is actually having two more conferences: one is in Boston and another in London. Our very own Director of Design, Chandler Powell, and Manager of Campaign Production Services, Lindsey McFadden, will be attending the event in Boston and would love to meet with you!

Lauren Bell
Manager of Strategic Services, WhatCounts

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