How to Supercharge Engagement with Interactive Emails

2018 is the year of the interactive email. 

Over the past few years, interactive elements have slowly become integrated into email marketing. But this year, elements such as GIFs, timers, and carousels will become the norm. With more and more easy-to-use and cost-effective interactive email marketing tools emerging, and Google’s announcement to bring AMP to Gmail, we’re set for a new era of email marketing. 

Static images and plain-text emails (with the exception of SaaS onboarding messages) simply won’t be able to compete against interactive elements that provide marketers with the opportunity to deepen customer engagement right in the inbox.  


Why Interactivity Is a Major Boost for Email Marketing

To sum it up, interactive emails allow readers to take any number of actions without going off-site. That means better engagement and greater customer satisfaction across the board. Let’s break down some of the specific benefits.

Higher Conversions

For starters, interactive content on any medium generates twice as many conversions as static content. But that doesn’t even factor in email’s greatest strength: a direct and personal link with customers. The email format grants access to your customers, and from there the interactivity guides them however far they want to go. 

Better, More Engaging Content

Interactive content can be used pragmatically to help users accomplish tasks, such as browsing products, or casually to entertain, such as a micro-game. Either way, your email is going to be more engaging, and extend the email open duration (amount of time readers spend with it). 


Conserve Space

Certain interactive elements, like drop-down menus, hover text or image carousels, can conserve screen space without sacrificing content. This allows you to present all the need-to-know information without overwhelming the customer — doubly important considering that emails are already cramped enough. 

Data Collection

By including quizzes or surveys in interactive emails, you can collect insightful user data to better understand your customers. Similarly, you can use them to elicit reviews without inconveniencing their customers. This data can also help you target users with more relevant content and offers. 

Customer Satisfaction 

Aside from all the practical benefits, don’t forget that interactivity is just plain fun. Customers would much rather “play” with an email than simply read-and-discard it. Think about the emails that stand out to you - they likely contained interactive elements which made the experience memorable. 

5 Interactive Email Ideas You Can Use Right Now

So what exactly do we mean by “interactivity”? Read on to discover 6 of the most effective interactive elements to inspire you and help you get started. 

Countdown Timer

If you want to instill urgency, show a timer. This has been a beloved eCommerce strategy for years, and it's especially useful for time-sensitive offers. Outside of the eCommerce space, timer’s can be used for any pricing promotion. Running a 25% discount for your SaaS product? Include a timer in your campaign emails to create a sense of urgency. In my personal experience, placing the timer in the preheader drives the most click-throughs, but be sure to experiment in order to maximize engagement with your specific audience. 


Videos & GIFs

On their own, videos are a powerful marketing tool. According to a collection of statistics by Insivia, the mere presence of video can increase conversions by up to 80% and have viewers spend 2.6x longer on a page. While in the past it was difficult to embed functional videos, the tech has finally caught up with us; email can finally enjoy all the benefits of video without consequence. 

Videos can also include GIFs and Cinemagraphs. Again, experiment with different tools and creative assets to understand what works best for your audience. 


Hidden Menu

When responsive design was taking off a few years ago, one of its greatest contributions was the hidden menu — namely the hamburger menu, but any dropdown, pullout, or expand-on-click menu also qualifies. Traditional navigation menus like header bars are harder to pull off on the limited screen space of mobile devices, so designers devised a hidden menu that could be opened on demand. 

Even when read on desktop, emails had the same problem of limited space. For the email window-within-a-window, hidden menus are just as useful at providing users whatever they need, and only when they need it. 

Image Carousel

Another popular design trend that can be carried over to interactive emails, the image carousel depicts multiple images in the space of one. Companies can now promote multiple campaigns or products without worrying about fatiguing the reader or overcrowding the screen. 


Surveys & Quizzes 

Emails that link to external surveys suffer from low click-throughs... but what if the email was the survey. It’s one thing to ask readers to go to a new site to take a quiz, but it’s another to simply ask a question and have the answer just a click away. 

Although new, interactive emails will likely become the next staple medium for surveys. It makes sense, as emails are a direct link to any customer, and the convenience suits readers who won’t be bothered with external links. 


Takeaway Tips

Interaction is a great boon to email marketing, but there are a couple of concerns to keep in mind. Before you go design your brilliant interactive email campaign, consider these tips: 

  • Emails don’t accept JavaScript, so you may need an outside resource. Here are a few of my favorite tools: Liveclicker, Movable Ink, and REBEL.
  • Email marketing is highly customizable, so monitor the success of your interactions through analytics. A consistent cycle of review-reiterate will help tailor your email designs to your specific customer base. 

Do you have any questions about interactive emails? Need help getting starting? Share your thoughts below in the comments section now, or drop me a line directly