Worthy of Attention: Applying Responsive Design and Reply by Email Functionality

Alex Mastrianni

The following post was written by Caitlin Struhs, Copywriter at Higher Logic. 

There are a number of reasons why email is worthy of attention. Online communities alone generate tens of millions of emails per month. It’s a universal medium—nearly everyone has an account, most emailing happens on the go through mobile devices and communities powered by an online platform usually begin with email, whether it’s an introduction or a daily digest.

Discussion emails and daily digests often are unceremoniously dumped into the trash bin—unless you’re part of a thriving online community. This communication portal between users and the online community offer a 24/7 connection with no barriers. At Higher Logic, we believe there are two critical steps to taking your community emails from unread to re-read status: responsive design and reply by email functionality.

Email templates should ensure content is easily read on any device, especially a mobile one. This means the notifications and community experience is frictionless on your phone or tablet. Responsive design can take this one step further—user’s experience should be seamless enough that they are easily able to reply to a discussion thread or community post directly in that email.

Reply by email functionality allows users to click a unique link within the email (which opens in your own email client) to bring up a reply with the appropriate subject line, where you can keep the conversation going. The format even allows for attachments that might be included in that discussion’s thread.

This connectivity enhances the user experience and increases engagement. With no browser requirement, the reply by email button in each email or daily digest means there are no response delays or switching from one interface to another.

Your community platform should also provide reports for community administrators to analyze how many messages originated from inbound email, versus the community website or app.

Since Higher Logic launched reply by email functionality, there has been a lot of positive client feedback.

“I think the new format for the discussion emails are easier to read, easier to engage and reply to and are finally enticing some of my lurkers to post!” said Diana Mertz, CAE, from the American Staffing Association.

Kristi Donovan, CAE, from the Association of University Programs in Health Administration, noticed a significant uptick in discussion responses almost immediately after turning on the reply by email functionality. “I compared the previous 30 days’ activity to the seven days since going live with Reply by Email. For the 30 days prior, we had 125 posts. One week from launch, we already boasted 55 posts! This is a pretty nice bump, considering we averaged roughly 55 posts per month for the year.”

This trend continued for other clients, such as the New Jersey Society of CPAs (NJCPA). Rachael Bell explained, “For our first month using Reply by Email, we received 359 posts. The same period last year only brought in 227 posts. Our monthly average last year was around 308—we had a 58% increase over last year and 16% more than our monthly average.”

Responsive design and replying by email fall under best practices for driving engagement and improving community retention. These seamless emails can help to seed discussions with targeted messages to subscribers, encourage users to follow new conversations and allow for mobile campaigns that both look and feel easy to use. Your community will benefit from continuing to embrace email.

Higher Logic is an industry leader in cloud-based community platforms, with over 25 million engaged members in more than 200,000 communities. Organizations worldwide use Higher Logic to bring like-minded people all together, by giving their community a home where they can meet, share ideas, answer questions and stay energized. Learn more at www.higherlogic.com.

About the Author
Alex Mastrianni

As the Marketing Manager at Informz, Alex drives the development and implementation of our content marketing plan and marketing campaigns. Outside of work, Alex is a pop culture junkie, ice cream fanatic, and semi-pro vacation planner.