How To Increase Subscriber Engagement With Interactive Emails
Interactive emails increase subscriber engagement

This guest post was contributed by Chris Donald from Inbox Army. 

Your email marketing ought to get boring and repetitive over a period of time. If you want to keep your subscribers hooked to your emails, you need to go the extra mile and try something innovative in your email marketing strategy.

Interactivity is that innovative element that can make your email stand out from the plethora of similar emails in the subscriber’s inbox. According to Litmus, interactivity topped the list of email design trends for 2018 at 44.1%.

Email design trends report

Why Interactivity?

There are quite a few reasons, let’s go through the most common ones:

  1. Interactivity helps you provide substantial information in restricted space
  2. It can amp up your click-through rates to a great extent as it improves the overall email interface
  3. With interactive elements like a live shopping cart in the email, the recipient can take action right in the inbox rather than the landing page
  4. Your emails can get an impressive makeover that renders a pleasant experience to the subscriber

Let’s have a look at the most popular interactive elements that drive enhanced subscriber engagement.

1. GIFs

GIFs are animated images that make the emails more visually appealing for the recipient. They have gained immense momentum in the past few years and are extensively being used nowadays to enhance the engagement rate of emails.

GIFs can be effectively utilized by e-commerce companies to showcase their diverse collection. GIFs make it easy for IT companies to explain their offerings in a simplified manner.

Just keep in mind that since Outlook does not support GIFs and shows only the first frame of animation, you need to include all the important information like CTA in the first frame itself.

Pro-tip: Use GIFs judiciously as it can lead to photosensitive seizures in some patients.

Uncommongoods sends out an interesting email that explains the usage of one of their products right in the first fold. This would surely increase the subscriber engagement and click-through rates for the campaign:

GIF in email example

2. Cinemagraphs

If you have already used GIFs in too many email campaigns and are looking for something new to try out, cinemagraph is the perfect choice for you. It was conceptualized in the year 2011 by Kevin Burg and Jamie Beck but it has gained immense traction in the recent years.

Cinemagraph is basically a live photograph created by combining an image and video. A part of cinemagraph is a still photograph while the remaining part is animated by seamless looping a subtle animation. It creates an illusion of time elapsing and offers a touch of exuberance to the email.

Email marketers have also started using it to create exciting emails that encourage more subscribers to complete the purchase and turn into customers.

Marketers from the travel industry can use cinemagraphs to present the splendor of their holiday destinations and entice the prospective customers to give in to their wanderlust.

Fashion brands can use it to highlight their jewelry designs. Premium brands can flaunt off the unmatched quality of their products through these animations.

You can even share your videos, product launches, and slideshare presentations through these animations.

An important point to remember is that similar to GIFs, cinemagraphs are not supported in Outlook email client. Owing to this, you should make sure that the GIF does not have any important message for the recipient.

Pro-tip: Segment your list according to the email clients they use, in addition to the basic parameters like demographics, geographic location, past purchases, etc.

Check out how The Home Depot promotes their garden products with the help of a beautiful cinemagraph in the hero image of their email:

Cinemagraphs in email example

3. Counters

Like the name suggests, counters are used to promote limited time offers and encourage instant purchase decisions by creating a sense of urgency. It arouses the “Fear of Missing Out” instinct among the buyers and entices them to complete the purchase.

E-commerce websites that have a huge product churn can offer discounts on various products for a specific period of time and highlight it with the help of email countdowns. If you have organized an event, you can apply counters in the reminder emails sent to the registrants.

Automobile companies can endorse the launch of their new car by adding countdown in their emails. Retail industry marketers can notify their subscribers about the limited stock with an email countdown. Banks can encourage their customers to avail the limited period loan offers by sending an email with countdowns.

The best thing about using countdown in emails is that it is compatible across all the major email clients except Lotus and Outlook. The latter will render the countdowns if there is a proper fallback support.

Here’s an email by Travelocity that promotes their sale with the help of a countdown:

Counter in email example

4. Menus

The world of emails is gracefully transcending towards mailable microsites that give the recipient a lot of information in that restricted email space. The menu is one such interactive element that helps you create better emails. Just like website developers are taking help of hamburger menus to design easy-to-navigate mobile responsive websites, email developers are also employing it to build short and concise emails.

Marketers from diverse industries like e-commerce, travel and hospitality, news and media, etc., can use menus to display tabbed information.

If you are planning to use a menu in your email, remember that it has mobile native app support. Desktop email clients will display the fallback content. The menu is not supported in Windows mobile.

See how REI has used the hamburger menu in their email to simplify the navigation. If you click the three lines at the top, it will open the menu options:

Menu in email example

5. Accordions

Accordions allow you to stack up the content and send content-heavy emails without creating lengthy emails. Through this interactive element, you can display a different email layout for both desktop and mobile recipients.  This way, the email will be longer on desktops and change into smart accordion for mobile users.

Accordions are valuable for email marketers as they can measure the number of clicks on every tab and determine the most popular products or services based on this information. You can progressively reveal information for enhanced engagement.

A special use case of Accordion would be for sending feedback emails consisting of a questionnaire and promotional emails that warrant smart categorization.

As far as compatibility is concerned, mobile native apps support Accordions while Desktop email clients display full fallback content. Windows mobile sadly does not support Accordions.

Microsoft has included an Accordion in their email for proper sectioning of their products. Whenever the recipient clicks on any of the arrows, they will be able to view the details of the respective product:

Accordions in email example

6. Sliders

Sliders help you to display several items in limited space. They help to enhance the click-through and engagement rate as the user needs to click to view the consecutive slides. It is even possible to change the CTA in every slide.

The usability of this element is that retailers or e-commerce companies can showcase all their best-selling products in a single email. Through this interactive feature, you avoid the need of sending too many emails.

When it comes to compatibility, major email clients like Apple Mail and Thunderbird support email sliders while remaining email clients will need a proper fallback.

Here’s how Burberry did it in their emails:

Slider in email example

7. Fixed CTAs

The position of email CTA is most critical if you want to drive higher click-through rates and more conversions.  Fixed CTA does not move despite scrolling the email. It is positioned with the help of CSS and allows the smooth scrolling of the remaining email content.

If you wish to send out a lengthy email that takes more than two folds, you can use a fixed CTA so that the CTA does not go unnoticed. It is a great alternative for long and verbose newsletters through which you wish to drive the recipient to ACT.

Sadly, fixed CTAs are supported in Android mobile devices – Android Native and Boxer App, but not in Android Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook App or Apple devices. These email clients will only render a fallback.

8. Kinetic Emails

Keyframe animations increase the subscriber engagement by using kinetic click-event that makes it necessary for the subscriber to take an action to experience the email interactivity.

Such emails are most popular among the marketers from the entertainment industry. They can promote a new series, movie or TV show with the help of a quirky animation. Travel industry email marketers can display their picturesque destinations and travel packages through kinetic emails.

Apple Mail, iOS Mail, Android Native App, AOL, and Outlook iOS are the only email clients that support these emails.

Taco Bell sends out an awesome holiday email with gamification employed through CSS (the visuals change as you select different options):

Wrapping Up

Interactivity in emails holds in itself a lot of potential for generating higher conversions and ROI. However, you need to use it in the right way in your email marketing strategy after properly analyzing your target audience, the email clients they are using, and the kind of emails that they resonate the most with.

As the realm of email design is advancing by leaps and bounds and email clients are striving to get better with time, you should definitely consider taking a novel approach to sending emails.

Have you already incorporated some interactive features in your emails? Do let us know how it performed. We would love to hear from you.

Chris-Donald HS

Chris Donald

Chris is the Director of InboxArmy, a professional email marketing agency that specializes in providing advanced email marketing solutions from production to deployment. He has worked directly with Fortune 500 companies, retail giants, nonprofits, SMBs and government bodies in all facets of their email marketing services and marketing automation programs for almost 2 decades.

Dario Supan

Dario is a content strategist and editor here at Point Visible. When he isn't neck deep in outreach projects and editorial calendars, you will most likely find him designing a custom graphic for a random post. Occasionally, he will throw in some On-page SEO project, just for good measure.

©2018 Point Visible. Point Visible is a part of Diversis Digital.

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