Mobile Optimization + Relevant Content is a Necessity for Today’s Subscribers

[ 0 By

Our most recent market share stats show mobile accounting for 48% of total opens. However, this statistic varies across industries, geographies, and demographics—the more mobile subscribers you have, the more thought you need to put towards your mobile strategy.

For example, the travel industry likely has a large percentage of subscribers that, well, travel. A natural consequence of traveling is reading messages in non-desktop environments, so mobile optimization should be a high priority. And, as always, content should be helpful and relevant to the subscriber. Sending information about local sites, rental car information, and weather would all be of interest to travellers.

Guestfolio, which offers Guest Relationship Management tools for the travel industry, keeps all of the above and more in mind with designing their customizable newsletters. When it comes to sending out confirmation emails, Guestfolio has two goals in mind: clearly present the guest with their reservation details and encourage them to click through to the mobile concierge trip planning tool. They look at their confirmation emails as a way to encourage their customers to do more, rather than simply sending them a receipt. It’s a major upsell opportunity!

Using customer Black Rock Oceanfront Resort as an example, let’s take a look at how Guestfolio improved Black Rock’s confirmation emails.



Desktop view (Before)

Before moving to Guestfolio, Black Rock’s confirmation emails included all of the pertinent information—reservation #, arrival and departure data, room type, etc.—in a plain text format. While it’s very helpful and includes all of the information a guest would expect, it’s missing out on not only an attractive (and mobile-friendly!) design, but upsell opportunities as well.



Desktop view (After)

What an improvement! Since transactional emails frequently have higher response rates and ROI than commercial emails, they deserve a focus on design and content. Chloe Cross, email specialist at Guestfolio, broke down the design considerations of this email into five priorities:

  • Consistent branding across all platforms
  • Responsive design
  • Dealing with data-heavy content
  • Content hierarchy
  • Clear calls-to-action


Black Rock Oceanfront Resort is a luxury hotel with a stunning, sleek website that reflects their commitment to excellence. The original, unbranded plain-text confirmation emails simply didn’t match the standard set by the website. Revamping the emails to mimic the look and feel of the hotel website was one of the major goals of the redesign.


Chloe explained,

We use CSS elements such as webfonts, gradients, box shadows, etc. where suitable to give recipients using email clients with support for these the best possible experience, whilst making sure the email degrades gracefully in other clients.

By adding these design elements, Black Rock is able to add personality that supports their brand image and add warmth to the previous, cold text email. In addition, they use live HTML text in their design—an essential step in ensuring all important confirmation details will be readable, regardless of whether images are enabled or not.


With a large mobile audience, it was essential that their emails were responsive. Through the use of media queries, the text expands to fill the entire width of the screen, the button enlarges, and the layout switches to a one-column design when the email is viewed on a mobile device.


Mobile view (After)

Chloe further explained their decision to utilize a responsive design, saying

Our web app and mobile concierge are responsive, and our responsive emails provide a seamless, mobile-friendly experience on clickthrough.

The call-to-action (CTA) to “start planning your stay” links to the mobile concierge app. With both the email and landing page (or app!) providing an impeccable mobile experience, their customers are sure to be impressed.


Confirmation emails were the last of Black Rock’s automated email types to go responsive as their data-heavy nature makes them the most complex. Since they are dealing with tabulated data for the confirmation details, they decided to stack the values underneath their labels in mobile. Chloe reasoned,

This way the information can be clearly displayed at a legible size without the need to zoom, whereas we make use of the extra screen real estate on desktop by having them sit side by side.


Desktop details


Mobile details

Despite the large amount of content, setting up the email this way makes the message feel sleek and the text isn’t overwhelming.


When it comes to writing content for transactional emails, Bronto suggests following the 80/20 rule in which 80% of the email’s content is transactional, while the other 20% is promotional. While transactional information should be at the front and center of the email, including upsells or cross-sells is a huge opportunity for marketers.

In Black Rock’s case, the upsell would be their mobile concierge, which enables customers to book activities, receive information about the weather, and more. Black Rock was seeing low click-through rates on their confirmation emails before the redesign. Guests would stop reading at the reservation details because that was all they were expecting to see. Their first redesign test was to place the mobile concierge link to “Start planning your stay” and information about the service above the confirmation details.

Their stats showed that this was a definite success; however, they still feel that more could be done to drive the click-through rate higher. They are looking forward to doing more testing!


As Jason explains in his calls-to-action guide, while the copy and design of your campaign can go a long way towards getting users to interact with your email, the most important part of eliciting interaction is the call-to-action, or CTA. Black Rock’s emails contain a single, clear call to action— the mobile concierge link. Chloe explained,

We actively discourage our clients from including other common CTAs, such as their social media (integrated in the mobile concierge) and website in their emails. Originally the link was hypertext; however, we changed it to a bulletproof CSS button to make it really inviting, resulting in another jump in click-through rates and higher engagement with the mobile concierge.

By using a singular CTA that clearly states the benefits of clicking to customers, Black Rock was able to see some major improvements!


They love it! Adele Larkin, General Manager and Black Rock Resort, explained

Our guests rave about the information they receive, the quality and the volume of information helps them to arrive in an area aware of what is available to them as far as activities and something as simple as the weather. We find that our guests are engaged prior to stepping into the lobby, because of this we believe that their vacation experience is enriched, more enjoyable and memorable.


Share them with us! Send the HTML of the email, along with any background information about the campaign, to


Subscribe to our newsletter to receive tips, tricks, stats, and plenty of inspiration packaged in a beautiful monthly newsletter.

  • Alejandra Castellano

    Thanks for the great content, Lauren!! I’ve been doing experiments with responsive design and I have achieved some beautiful results, but I have a question running through my head lately… does responsive design ( tag, media queries…) damage deliverability? I sent some tests and the result was that the desktop version of an email got to the inbox, but not the responsive one… :S

    • Lauren_Litmus

      Hi Alejandra! Thanks for the comment. I’m glad to hear that you liked the post!

      I’m a little confused by the issue that you’re seeing—would you mind telling us more about it? Since responsive emails are only one HTML, it wouldn’t make sense that one “version” would get marked as spam and not the other since they are the same email.

      Also, what are you using to test your emails? If you aren’t already a Litmus customer, I’d be happy to set you up with a free trial, which includes email previews so you can test your responsive designs across over 30 devices & clients, as well as spam filter testing so you can determine whether your email will reach the inbox or not.

      Let me know if you have any questions! Cheers.

      • Alejandra Castellano

        Hello, Lauren. Sorry, I didn’t explain myself well enough :P.

        I tested an only-desktop version (fixed width, just inline styles, without % or media queries), and another HTML with responsive techniques. This one using the tag and media queries redered OK in almost every client, but ended up in the spam folder in some of the tests we sent.

        I already use Litmus for email previews, but not for SPAM checking. I use another tool for this and I also have testing adresses. When I sent the responsive email to those adresses, it got to SPAM in some clients, so what I am wondering is if using this techniques can affect deliverability… Did you ever have this problem? Thanks!! And have a great weekend!

        • Justine, Litmus

          Interesting! This is not a scenario we’ve run across before. Was the content the same between both versions? You may find that posting in the Community may yield some interesting answers!

          • Alejandra Castellano

            I will test a few more emails and tell you what I get… I suppose the responsive code can trigger an “spam alert” in some clients as they don’t understand it is proper code for an email.
            I will try to to share the experience in the community.. Thanks!

  • Portman

    Mobile marketing is playing virtual role now a days. Every one they checking mails, important information in smart phones itself. Because of that every companies and e-commerce sites, classifieds their developing their applications for phones and develop the market in Mobiles also.go here

  • Dan Appelbee

    Great post. Very helpful. Thanks