Interactive Email Creates Inbox Activity for Phone-Obsessed Consumers

When looking at a list of email trends and predictions over the last couple of years, a few topics have stayed on the list for several years. Two stand out and have a broad interpretation: personalization and interactive email.

Personalization is nothing new, but marketers are struggling to deliver the level of personalization their customers expect. Most are addressing the customer by name, but as what they know about the customer becomes more robust, the content should be specific to the individual’s needs at specific moments.

Interactive email – previously known as “kinetic” – is about movement in an email. This movement can be through simple or complex animations, HTML5 video – we’re all wondering if it will ever work correctly – or potentially prompting the user to interact with the email in a way that simulates an in-app experience. We’ve always known email to be a one tap or click environment. In other words, “you’ve got one shot, so choose wisely.” With interactive email, however, we move past that perception and start to see email engagement truly evolve.

Some of us have been around long enough to remember when getting an animation to work in email was a challenge. Interactive has been on the scene now for a couple of years and has always had an “oooh” and “ahhh” reaction, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But we’ve reached the stage where we need to give it a purpose. It needs to be more of a tool that can be applied to email, and we need to put it to work on a larger scale. This is where personalization comes into the equation.

When worlds collide

Interactive email is a vessel to capture and deliver personalization. Has the light bulb gone on yet? Still just flickering? All right, I’ll explain further.

Let’s take a step outside of the inbox for a moment and focus on all the interactions we have with our phones. Studies have shown we often spend up to five hours a day on our phones. We’re mostly interacting with social media apps, messaging, media, and games, with a bit of time left over for email. As we transition from apps to email, the latter can seem rather basic. Email is now commonly viewed as a slightly better print ad – if we’re lucky. Interactive email can help by not only easing that transition, but also playing a role in how we consume the content.

Keep in mind most of the information on mobile is moving on screen either in an animated format or video. We’re also seeing a rise in surveys and quizzes being utilized. This can be a great way to collect information online and within email. Depending on the app, you might also be greeted with a highly personalized experience based on your profile setup or shopping experiences. 

Our expectations on personalized content continue to rise, and interactive can play a role in bringing more of that experience into the inbox. 

About the Author

David Kepets

David Kepets is a leading digital marketing expert that specializes in creative best practices for reaching and engaging with the multi-channel consumer. Throughout his career, Kepets has helped some of the world’s most recognizable brands to adopt a more data-driven, customer-centric approach to their email creative in order to deliver seamless customer experiences across channels. As Director, North American Creative Services at Cheetah Digital, Kepets has spent the last decade studying how people interact with design through different types of messaging across devices. He is a sought-after resource on the topic of email creative and has appeared in many industry publications including MediaPost, Direct Marketing News, Chief Marketer and FierceCMO.

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