Emails that are more interactive, more engaging, more actionable: Google’s announcement of AMP/email integration created quite a buzz within the #emailgeek community. But does it stand to be a real improvement?
An early Saint Valentine’s Day? On February 13th, with AMP for Email, Google sent a beautiful card to all those who design, lead, and seek to innovate in their email marketing strategy.
In a blog post, Aakash Sahney, Gmail’s product manager, announced that the famous AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) framework was now accessible from inside email inboxes.
He shared three examples of what this innovation could bring to email through three prestigious beta testers: Pinterest, Booking.com, and Doodle. The promise?
- More engagement: by presenting your content in a more dynamic way
- More interactions: by allowing your recipients to complete certain tasks directly inside the email
- And therefore, ultimately, more effective campaigns by shrinking the gap between your emails and your landing pages
Does all this remind you of something? That’s to be expected: AMP for Email uses more or less the same principles that already exist in what we call interactive email (or kinetic email). This type of email was, up to now, incompatible with Gmail, so it’s great news for everyone who would like to offer their recipients more innovative experiences.
Concretely, what will you be able to implement with this new framework? Will the pay-off be worth the effort? Here’s what we can tentatively say about it now, since the first specifications provided by Google are still in the announcement stage.
Navigation within email
As demonstrated by the above example from Pinterest, AMP for Email lets you develop legitimate “mini-sites” in the guise of an email, with the possibility of returning to the “home page”. The advantage? Allowing the recipient to go just that much further in discovering your offers and products without having to leave the (reassuring) context of their inbox.
A travel business can imagine showing complementary information (photos, cards, activities, etc.) in their emails, and thus generate more conversions.
This is a very interesting functionality for offering more content around somewhat complex products. We are thinking, for example, of travel businesses who can create a “page” with photos, locations, availability dates, etc. by holiday location in their emails. AMP also announced (without showing examples of its use) the ability to include a sidebar and make it appear and disappear at will.
In an interactive email, this possibility also exists, notably by using an item that every mobile user is already familiar with (and which isn’t, a priori, supported by AMP): the hamburger menu.
Offer presentation (carousel, lightboxes, etc.)
For all email marketers, presenting your products in a way that marries aesthetics to comfortable navigation is one of the major advantages of interactive email. According to the first information provided by Google, and focusing only on this domain, AMP for Email will offer the main formats that we’re already experimenting with in other clients and webmails:
- lightbox and image lightbox
In the end, AMP promises to offer a very satisfying range of solutions for deploying rich content while optimising the design. As rich or not as rich as existing interactive emails? Well, it’s too early to say.
Contextualisation (timers, location)
Personalising email depending on geographic location or time is one of the major advantages of interactive email. A retailer can use the first to make the address of the nearest store appear in the email footer, for example. Nothing of the sort is apparently included by default in AMP for Email.
Countdowns or, inversely, re-engagement campaigns (“you haven’t visited our site in X months…”): all this will be possible with the new Gmail.
And using the second to simulate a countdown before the beginning of sales, or the launch of a new collection—Gold star: the “amp-timeago” tag (which allows you to create a countdown since or until a given date) lets you display this sort of information in an AMP email.
Dynamically displayed content
While the final objective is still to send the recipient to your website, all the micro-interactions that let them make a first choice in the email can be very useful to your campaigns. Particularly for e-commerce shops.
Being able to modify the photo of a sweater depending on the colour chosen, personalising the amount of a discount based on the customer’s score within your CRM—all of this not only contributes to improving the reactivity of your campaigns, but also bringing the customer closer to the “buy” button.
Google seems to have understood this well, because its list of promised functionalities is impressive. On paper, it’s equal to what is available in an interactive email:
- changes to media depending on interactions (bind)
- personalised fields (Mustache)
Media and animation
Of course, AMP for Email integrates images and animated formats such as GIF or WebP by default. But strangely, while the “amp-video” tag (the same as those intended for the integration of content from YouTube, Vimeo, or Dailymotion) does exist in the Web version of AMP, the specifications for the email version don’t mention it. In our opinion, this is a big loss, because if it’s well thought out, integrating a video in your email can give your campaign a real shot of adrenaline.
In the “con” category, since Google’s stated objective is to bring the email user experience closer to that of the Web, content animation functionalities (fade-in, fade-out) would have been very welcome. These are absolutely things that can be accomplished in an interactive email.
Availability of the technology
Let’s look past Google’s choice to push this new product while the email marketing community has been clamouring for others for a long time (responsiveness interpretation across all Google’s email clients, compatibility with interactive emails, etc.).
What about AMP compatibility in “non-Google” contexts?
THE major flaw with AMP for Email, at the moment, is the distribution of its framework, which will only function in the context of Gmail. While its developers have definitely encouraged other clients and webmails to implement it, the others are not in a hurry.
AMP for Email: first impressions
On the positive side, the ability to render email campaigns in a context as popular as Gmail (the second most used configuration on the market according to Litmus) is definitely good news. And the engagement of a major player such as Google is bound to push the email marketing community to think about new, richer, and more engaging experiences—is this the start of a new era for email? In any case, it’s a positive sign.
On the less positive side: the Gmail tree can’t hide the forest of competing clients and webmails. The announcement of AMP for Email generated an avalanche of comments along the lines of “finally a bit of innovation in email”. But the professionals using this tool know just how much email has not stopped evolving and reinventing itself.
Fallbacks: a real question mark.
The challenge facing email marketers will be to ensure a coherent and consistent experience for all of their interactive emails. Whether they are read on Gmail or not—the question of “fallbacks” and particularly how an email designed with AMP will be displayed in other configurations, remains a big question mark for the time being.
So, AMP for Email—go for it, or wait?
Should you get started on an AMP POC? It’s difficult to answer this question directly. Probably yes, if:
- A large part of your base reads your emails in one of Gmail’s configurations
- You are already experienced with interactive email, and you know what to expect, and in what situations it can be beneficial to your campaign
- Your developers and integrators are experienced and have a lot of time to spare
And, otherwise, probably not if you don’t meet the above conditions. Or, if you would prefer to wait for the results of our own POC on the subject. Dartagnan is stepping forward to further explore this new tool—we’ll let you know more very soon! If you are a customer or a user of our email builder, don’t hesitate to contact our support team to tell us what you’d like us to test.