Communication is key to make businesses work. Even in case of one way communication models such as radio, you have listeners calling in or sending letters as a sign of the show being popular. When you make your audience interact with your content, you make them more engaged.
An engaged audience is more prone to trust your words and consider your solutions as the key to their problems. Moreover, as long as you continue to interact with your audience and keep them engaged, they will not get bored of your brand and will likely remain loyal.
This may seem good on paper, but when you try to implement it, you may be bound by other responsibilities and lack of time. Thankfully, email marketing is a channel where you can create interactive and engaging emails that are personalized, and automatically send them to your subscribers once you set-up the campaign.
In this article, I will focus on 7 different ways to make your emails more interactive and engaging.
1. Have a mobile first approach
The number of mobile users has increased from 2.5 billion in 2016 to 3.8 billion in 2020.
This means people are also using their handheld devices to read emails, and in fact, half of the emails are opened on mobile devices. So, it is important to make sure the information is correctly displayed on smaller screens without causing discomfort to your subscribers. You thus need to take certain precautions while creating an email template as well as setting up email campaigns. These include:
- Subject lines are short and crisp
- Call to action button is tappable with a thumb
- Email copy is not bigger than 3 paragraphs
- Images are optimized for retina display
- Fonts are at least 14px in size
- File sizes are minimized
- Content is restricted to 800px
Most email developers tend to create full-sized beautiful email templates and then scale it for small displays; you stand a chance to break the layout in such cases. Hence, it is advised to opt for a mobile-first design or test your emails extensively before sending.
2. Use Dynamic Content blocks
Earlier, once an email was sent, the email copy was set in stone. You couldn’t change it. With the advancements in HTML coding, email developers have devised a way to create certain content blocks that dynamically refresh the content within, at the time when the email is opened. Even though you can send personalized emails via segmentation, with the dynamic content blocks, you have the freedom to hyper-personalize your emails using multiple sets of segmentation criteria.
In the example below by Adidas, the email layout remains constant, and the content inside (including the images) automatically changes as per the subscriber’s gender.
3. Include Surveys or Polls
Asking your subscribers for reviews or feedback gives you a great insight into what your subscribers expect from your emails. This also makes your subscriber feel valued. What if you could ask for feedback in your email itself?
You can create one as simple as stacking 5 images horizontally (or vertically) and providing individual links to every image as achieved below by Dropbox.
But in such a survey, you only get one specific response to a straightforward question. You can choose to create complex multi-field forms using CSS or AMP emails, but it has restrictions on the ESP support as well as email client support (discussed later).
You should also feature a CTA button that redirects your subscribers to the dedicated landing page to avoid any compatibility issues.
4. Radio Button Interactivity
You must have encountered radio buttons when filling out forms online, but did you know that you can use them in emails to create different forms of interactivity?
Radio buttons allow you to show different options while the subscribers can only select one option at a time. This means email developers can create email templates where each radio button stage changes the content in a fun and interactive way.
Toms used the radio button interactivity to allow the subscriber to interact with their email to see how it looks in dark.
Similarly, B&Q created an email where the user can switch on the lights in the hero image to better view the products. All you need to do is flip the switch.
Type E: uses the radio button to improve the accessibility of their email. The email has 3 buttons at the top corner that change the layout as well as color to better suit the subscriber.
5. Parallax Effect
Parallax effect is a rage in the modern website designs. When you scroll down or up, the image moves along. This creates an interesting effect that makes the user feel that the website is responsive to their input.
Penguin Random House used the parallax effect in their emails to announce their book tour, taking the subscriber on a ride. As seen in the example below, the bus remains static while the background moves.
6. Countdown Timers
Humans are wired to take impulsive steps when a decision is to be taken in a split second, and this effect is called the “Flight or Fight” mechanism.
It becomes easy for a subscriber to make quick decisions when they have limited time to make it and marketers have been using countdown timers to trigger that emotion. When seeing a countdown timer, we automatically worry about missing out and start to introspect on the needs of it.
The below email example by Travelocity has the countdown timer in the first half of the email to draw the attention of the subscribers and take quick action.
7. User-Generated Content
People love it when you make them a part of your brand. This raised the demand for user generated content by many brands. When you feature user-generated content in your communication, it gives customers a chance to see your products in real life as well as builds trust, as the photographs and statements show that real people actually like them.
One great way to include user-generated content is using images of your subscribers using your products on major social media platforms. This can be done manually, or it can be automatically fetched (dynamic content blocks). Asking for photographs directly is also a great move to make your subscribers feel valued.
In the example below by The Body Shop, they encouraged subscribers to post pictures on Instagram with the hashtag #gotItFromHer and they featured some of the photos in their mother’s day promotion emails.
How effective are these ideas?
You may be wondering which interactive email elements to implement in your next email campaign and which need time for planning and execution? Additionally, you must be considering which ESP supports interactivity and what portion of your subscriber base can enjoy the emails.
Any AMP related interactivity (such as survey forms) is only supported in Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, and Outlook.com but it will not display CSS3 interactivity.
Same issue is faced when you try to send CSS3 interactive emails (Radio button interactivity) or email templates with Dynamic content blocks, ESPs like Mailchimp will remove the code from the Mailchimp Templates.
So, it is suggested to analyze your subscriber base and test your email templates before you send an email campaign.
Emails have been static for a long time and considered to be a one-sided communication channel for too long. But by using engaging email copy, some interactivity, and a whole lot of innovation, you can make your subscribers interact with your emails and provide them with a better user experience.
What you need to remember is that the interactivity can be big or as subtle as you wish. Share some interesting interactive emails you may have come across in the comments below!