Your Guide to Email Interactivity: 5 Trends to Consider

It’s the time of year when email experts¬†look into their crystal balls and think of what new email design techniques will be adopted. One 2017 forecast¬†we keep seeing everywhere?¬†More email interactivity!

“Email interactivity” refers to¬†an action taken in an¬†email that triggers an event within the same email. So with the expansion of interactive email design, our inboxes will continue to become more like our website and app experiences, with tappable pop-ups, drop-downs, and videos. This is an exciting time for email designers, marketers, and brands alike‚ÄĒand for readers who can expect to get more value (and fun) from emails. Here’s a guide to email interactivity design trends that can be expected in the year ahead.


1. Hamburger Menu in Headers

We’re used to seeing collapsible hamburger menus on responsive sites. They stow away navigation menus, offering a simplified, cleaner header design.

Now, the hamburger is showing up in emails, too. Check out this recent shipping confirmation email from Nordstrom, with a hamburger menu in the upper right (pink arrow added by us):

Nordstrom Email Interactivity

Once tapped, a drop-down menu appears right within the email.

Nordstrom Email Interactivity

What makes this great: Hamburger menus are a boon to email marketers because the extra navigation provides customers with a clutter-free pathway to purchase (which is perfect for retailers who want to promote additional products or business areas). More content and options (like categories, pages, and up-sell content) can be offered to readers while also maintaining an elegant email design.

For more resources: Check out example code from FreshInbox and a community discussion via Litmus.


2. Single-Question Surveys and Reviews

Sending a single-question survey, quiz, or review invitation means readers can directly respond in an¬†email. The immediate reaction makes receiving/collecting feedback and giving input easier than ever. Here’s one of the most effective & quick single-question surveys from Expedia:

Source: via Jordie van Rijn on Email Newsletter Examples

You can directly submit your feedback inside the email by clicking either the green or red face. Depending on what you click, you’ll be redirected to a landing page that already knows if you had a pleasant experience or had any issues. This is what we call a smarter, more personalized survey email that is connected with your overall multi-channel customer journey.

What makes this great: A focused email with a single CTA is a smart way to engage readers. Readers can tap anything from a bulletproof CTA buttons to images to links to record their answers. From the subject line to the email body, the messages can be short and direct, which also optimizes your chances for reader participation and makes data collection easy for everyone. Plus, the¬†“micro-survey” approach can be simple¬†to design.

For more resources: Check out our post, 4 Ways to Send Better Survey Invitation Emails.


3. In-Email Video (for mostly Apple clients)

With Apple’s launch of iOS 10 last fall, HTML5 video made its return to email! In-email videos can be viewed on iPad and iOS Mail, which play directly in the email. For iPhone, however, videos don’t play in-line and need to be clicked and watched in full-screen mode.

What makes this great: Videos are a powerful way to communicate. In-email videos are a great medium for brands to connect with readers in one place, optimizing the user experience.

Having said this, video in email support remains limited and technically challenging. Be sure to know the email clients of your subscriber base and plan for having a fallback image or animated GIF in place for those email clients that don’t support HTML5 video.

For more resources: A how-to guide on implementing HTML5 video in email.


4. Photo Browsing, Product Tours, and Live Shopping Carts

Image carousels and product tours in emails allow readers to tap on images and buttons to get more information. No more waiting for a landing page to load! Readers now have exploratory power at their fingertips. Here’s an example of in-email photo browsing from Rebelmail:

Rebelmail Email Interactivity

It’s easy to see the potential for this kind¬†of¬†interactivity. With a few additions (like color and size selection) readers can now have access to a live shopping cart.¬†They can learn more about products, make selections, and make a purchase‚ÄĒall without leaving their inbox.

For an example of a playful interactive email, here’s one from Pret.¬†Tapping on a flavor button activates a corresponding animation of a cup filling up.

Pret Email Interactivity

The animations aren’t GIFs‚ÄĒthey’re actually built with¬†CSS animated sprites¬†(with fallback content, of course!).

 

Pret Email Interactivity

Source: FreshInbox

What makes this great: Dynamic visual content can boost engagement and bring readers closer to the point of purchase without exiting an email. Impatient mobile users can also learn about products quickly and make on-the-go decisions.

For more resources: Check out Email On Acid’s article on coding interactive hotspots in emails, and Campaign Monitor’s post¬†on the Pret email design.


5. Add-to-Calendar Feature

It’s no easy task to collect RSVPs by email. That’s why we were impressed by this add-to-calendar functionality from Live Nation. Tapping on any ADD EVENT CTAs starts an instant download of a calendar event file.

Live Nation Email Interactivity

Secondary calls-to-action can be tricky, but for event-driven brands like Live Nation, an add-to-calendar option is the perfect way to get readers closer to making a purchase decision.

What makes this great:¬†While the add-to-calendar action doesn’t solely happen within the inbox, it doesn’t take readers to a landing page, either. Instead, the direct download connection¬†with a reader’s personal calendar is a powerful step toward event attendance.

For more resources: Hubspot has a great write-up on adding calendar events to email.


Your thoughts on email interactivity

While dynamic content like GIFs and countdown timers continue to be valuable assets for email design, email interactivity brings user engagement¬†to a new level. As with all design techniques in email, though, be sure to check each function’s capability and compatibility with the email clients of your core user base.

Share with us: what email interactivity techniques do you plan to use this year?

  • C√©lia Dequeker

    I think indeed interactivity and animated content is definitely the future of email marketing.
    Agreed that videos can be risky in email marketing- but there are some cool tools out there which guarantee fallback GIFs and adapt the video format to all email clients. I work at Mailjet, and we’ve partnered with Viwom to allow our users to easily embed videos and still benefit from best-in-class deliverability.

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