Since their invention, emails have largely been plain texts. This was followed by HTML emails which helped build appealing emails with images, formatted texts, embeds and experimental layouts. This remained the status quo for quite a while until Google released the AMP for Email in 2015.
AMP for Email transformed emails into live websites in inboxes. Carousels, accordions, calendars, carts and games started popping out from the emails. Email had finally arrived as an equal in the era of apps.
However, the detractors of interactive emails were not so sure of going the extra length to code interactivity in emails. It meant additional production cost and time – without any proof of its benefits.
This soon changed when brands like Booking.com and Mailmodo brought amazing conversion case studies to the table. Razorpay, one of the top payment gateways in India, saw a 257% lift in their feedback responses with interactive forms in email.
This article compares interactive and traditional emails to understand how they hold up as a marketing channel today.
What Are Traditional and Interactive Emails?
When I talk about_ traditional email_, I basically mean an HTML email. This has been the norm in email marketing for some time now. Promotional and transactional emails are both sent out in traditional HTML email formats. It contains static content and does not allow for any interactivity apart from basic engagement actions like replying, forwarding, clicking on hyperlinks, etc.
Interactive emails are more advanced and allow recipients to interact with the emails they receive. Interactive emails offer clickable buttons, forms, surveys, carousels and menus right inside the email.
In the gif below, you can see how an interactive email allows a recipient to open the email, give a rating, answer a question and write feedback within the email itself. After all the feedback, the recipient even gets a thank you message.
How is an Interactive Email Different From a Traditional Email?
When it comes to interactive emails vs. traditional emails, interactive emails are the evolved form of traditional emails. Interactive emails offer more functionalities, more varied use cases and better results in general than traditional emails.
Let’s look at the key differences between interactive and traditional emails in the table below.
|Allow recipients to interact within the email with the help of interactive elements like buttons, forms, etc., in the email
|Limited interactivity, usually only plain or rich text, hyperlinks and images
|Higher engagement rates and better user experience due to interactive elements
|Comparatively lower engagement rates and standard user experience for the lack of interactive elements
|Ability to collect user data within the email
|No ability to perform data collection within the email
|Compatible with specific email clients
|Compatible with all email clients
|Generally more complex to develop and embed the interactive features
|Easier to create content and design
|Can be used for surveys, polls, feedback, product demos and more
|Can only be used for general communication, newsletters and promotions
Do Interactive Emails Convert Better Than Traditional Emails
The table above makes it pretty clear who the winner is among the two. Interactive emails are superior – owing to the functionalities they offer. Interactive emails allow readers to see real-time information, updated within the interactive emails in real-time. Marketers can use this to deliver hyper-personalized content to the recipients based on user-specific data.
There were several performance tests conducted by Mailmodo, all of which led to the same conclusion – interactive emails convert better than traditional emails.
Below are three tests that were performed to understand the performances of each.
In the first performance test, Mailmodo partnered with their client to conduct a survey-based email campaign. The email was aimed at gathering user feedback and understanding customer intent. However, the response rate was low and their growth marketing team sought ways to enhance it.
Their collaboration with Mailmodo resulted in an interactive email campaign incorporating the entire survey flow within the email body. Upon opening the email, users were presented with a dynamic questionnaire. This facilitated swift feedback collection from all their customers. They experienced a remarkable 225% increase in conversions compared to their traditional email campaigns.
In another collaboration with a client, whose objective was to invite job applications by distributing quiz links via emails. The response rate for these application forms was disappointingly low. To improve the results, the client adopted Interactive AMP email templates using Mailmodo. They proceeded to send out both traditional email campaigns (with CTA buttons and landing page) and interactive email campaigns to compare their effectiveness.
The analysis revealed that the conversion rate for traditional emails was approximately 11%, whereas interactive emails achieved a conversion rate of around 41%.
In the third test, Mailmodo sent traditional and interactive email campaigns to similar audience segments for their client’s NPS surveys. This time, they scaled up the audience size and observed significant enhancements in conversions with interactive emails. The form submission rate for traditional emails was 0.4%, while for interactive emails, it surged to 3.7%, indicating an impressive 8X increase in conversions.
Why Do Interactive Emails Convert Better?
The above cases clearly emphasized that interactive emails do in fact convert better. Here’s why.
They provide an app-like experience within an email
Interactive emails provide a rich customer experience that enables website and app-like functionalities within an email. Recipients can submit multi-step forms, add items to carts, etc., all within the email.
For example, recipients can browse products, scroll through the product images and do more within their email. They can experience the web page right from their inbox.
Easy to engage in email without redirects
Interactive AMP emails provide a rich inbox experience with the help of interactive and actionable elements and widgets. This makes recipients spend less time hopping over redirects and multiple steps. Forms are present inside emails, which make it easier to fill due to the elimination of friction that is present in traditional emails.
Power unique email experience with interactivity and gamification
The longer a potential customer contemplates, the lesser the chances of conversion. Interactive AMP emails reduce this contemplation time by allowing subscribers to finish the action within the email itself. This helps in generating leads and converting them into customers.
Gamification allows for including game mechanics in emails, such as spin the wheel, quizzes, puzzles and more, to give recipients a unique experience and increase engagement and time spent on your emails. Brands can use this to entice customers to take action and maintain a good customer relationship.
Traditional emails with a good click-through offer something valuable, such as making a QR code with a 20% discount. However, with an interactive email, you can go one step ahead and add a cart inside the email with a cash-on-delivery payment option for a seamless checkout.
An email marketer can convert leads by including check-out options, flight details, and even event schedules for the entire day within the email itself.
Dynamic content with real-time updates in email
Dynamic email content changes, depending on the subscriber’s preferences, behavior, demographic data, and other related factors. You only need to create a single email and define the dynamic parameters in dynamic emails.
An excellent example of dynamic content is booking seats for a show within an email. The available seats get updated when seats get booked. This means avoiding double-booking is easy because the same seating is shown to everyone in real-time. Dynamic content allows for booking the slots within the email itself and the recipients do not have to go to an external site to view the vacant seats and book them.
7 Use Cases of Interactive Emails
While traditional emails are generally used for generic newsletter distribution and product updates in static form, interactive emails, especially the ones powered by AMP, have varied uses. We talk about some of the use cases below.
Leads are important for any marketer. The more information you can collect on your readers, the easier it is to detect and convert potential customers.
The higher engagement rate and ease of submission of forms, without any redirection, make the entire process seamless for the recipients. Recipients can also book demos by choosing the date and time within the email instead of going to another website.
Abandoned cart recovery
Carts abandoned by customers on an ecommerce website can be sent directly to their inboxes using interactive emails. These emails will allow customers to see the same items in the mail as they had left in the cart. The customers can simply click the call-to-action button to be redirected directly to the payment page for a swift checkout.
Gamification refers to the integration of games into emails. It increases the participation and engagement of the recipients. Brands often use this to distribute coupons and offers. This incentivizes the recipients to purchase on the website, even if they were not planning to.
Some examples of gamification elements that you can add to your interactive emails are spin the wheel, wordle in email, quizzes and scavenger hunts.
Websites track visitors and collect data so that their algorithms can predict the visitors’ preferences.
Interactive AMP emails use this to send tailored product recommendations to these recipients. The emails contain a curated catalog of products that have a higher chance of being sought after by that customer.
Product launch emails
Some companies tease their upcoming products weeks before launch. AMP allows the power to create strikingly beautiful promotions within emails. You can include carousels and have different interactive elements within the mail, which can display more information about a particular aspect of the product if the recipient hovers the cursor over it. Embedding a live countdown timer till the product launch is another great idea.
In-mail feedback collection
Interactive emails allow you to send forms and surveys within the email itself. Collecting feedback can be a pain because the submitting of feedback can be a lengthy process for customers, which needs them to be redirected to a website where they can submit their feedback.
With interactive emails, they can do the same within the email itself. AMP emails allow your recipients to choose one of the options and leave full-fledged reviews and feedback and submit without having to be redirected to another website.
When you are trying to get registrations for your webinar, normal emails have links that users click and visit another page where they can register. Having people sign up for webinars or even subscribe to your email newsletter, the form for signing up for webinars can be integrated within an interactive email itself. This means fewer steps for recipients to register, better engagement, and more conversions.
How to Create an Interactive Email?
There are two ways of creating an interactive email. First, interactive emails can be made by coding using HTML. As mentioned before, Google launched AMP for Emails using which one can easily code interactive elements like forms, carousels, accordions and more inside email. However, coding an interactive email can be pretty difficult and tedious
Fortunately, there is an easier alternative to this. Using an ESP that offers a drag-and-drop email template builder, like Mailmodo, to create an interactive email without any coding. For instance, using Mailmodo, you can simply choose a pre-made newsletter email template for your email. Make tweaks in the template that do not sit well with your brand guidelines and add or edit interactive widgets.
Interactive emails are widely used and adopted as a way of sending bulk marketing emails. We’ve talked about only a few use cases of interactive emails, but their usage is only limited by imagination.
The ability to interact with emails is a required trait for higher engagement and better conversions. All this, added to the fact that creating interactive emails is just as simple and maybe a little more fun than creating a traditional email, speaks highly in favor of interactive emails and proves why more marketers prefer them.