We know it, some love it – everyone uses it every day and it’s still an important part of a solid marketing structure. But there haven’t been major developments to the format in quite some time.
While mass uptake of email really only took place in the early to mid ’90’s, email as a method of messaging between computers was actually created in 1972 by Roy Tomlinson during his work on ARPANET – a precursor to the internet as we know it today. We might have dressed it up a bit since then with CSS and other types of finery, but at its core, email hasn’t changed from its message oriented nature.
But there is a change on the horizon in the form of an entirely new frontier of email interactivity: interactive forms, videos, gifs, mini-website experiences…developers are blurring the lines between “message”-based email and “interaction”-based websites with AMP HTML.
To begin with, let’s take a gander at what AMP HTML is and where it came from.
What is AMP HTML?
That’s a lot of fancy city-slicker words, but essentially, it provides a stripped-down version of your website that sacrifices some features in order to wrangle a load speed that’s quick on the draw – reducing load times from several seconds to one or two at most. Considering that your mobile page load speed can impact your Google Search Rankings – and conversion rates start dropping if your site takes more than three seconds to load – this is an extremely important tool for B2B businesses.
In a romantic gesture, on the 14th of February 2019, Google announced that it would be the first mail client to support AMP HTML in emails, bringing a set of dynamic and interactive capabilities to the historically static medium of emails. This has set off a debate between different schools of thought towards email design – those in support of the advanced functionality (including a lot of marketers), and those opposed to the further fragmentation of email rendering and shift away from web standards (including a lot of designers).
But let’s saddle up and mosey on down the trail to condense the main points for and against AMP HTML for email.
Benefits (The Good)
- Advanced customer experience: Moving far beyond the standard text, images and tables available in most email clients, AMP HTML for email allows for a range of “website-like” experiences. This includes image carousels, fully functional forms and even content that updates dynamically based on changes made externally/on your website.
- Decreased customer journey length: Having dynamic and interactive elements within emails decreases the number of steps necessary for a customer to complete their interaction with a business. This could also potentially improve the conversion rate of your CTA/offer. How many additional event sign-ups would you potentially get if the user could sign up directly from the initial email with no other steps?
- Improved interaction rates: Some reports show a move from static to interactive emails can improve CTORs of up to 72% if interactive elements are utilised, and improved CTRs of up to 300% if video is used. Up to 91% of B2B buyers claim to prefer interactive content during the buying journey.
Issues (The Bad & The Ugly)
- Additional work: Implementing AMP HTML for emails would require additional coding work in order to create new templates for your business emails.
The building phase for emails would take longer, along with additional assets, as you also need to create fallback assets to display if the email is opened in a client that does not support the format.
- Limited client support: Currently, AMP HTML emails are only supported by Gmail for desktop. Microsoft has announced that Outlook.com will be receiving support later in 2019, but has not announced when the Outlook desktop program will be receiving this support.
Given Outlook’s status as one of the most popular mail clients for business users, this limits the short term usability of the format.
- Dependant on approval: To be able to send AMP HTML emails into Gmail, you need to apply for approval from Google. This includes meeting security standards along with having a history of 100+ emails a day from your domain being sent to Gmail for a few weeks at least.
With many account-based or B2B marketers contacting a substantially smaller volume of leads per day in comparison to B2C, this may not be achievable for some users.
- Limited tracking functions: While AMP HTML introduces a wealth of new types of interactions with an email and can provide a quasi-website experience, currently it does not provide the same sort of tracking, analytics and insights as a traditional website would.
It would be up to the individual ESP/MAPs to implement support for the format to be able to track and score users on these interactions.
In summary, regardless of your feelings towards AMP HTML for email, currently it is not yet a format that is suitable for general deployment for every client due to its limited support. The frontier of interactivity in emails is still wild and untamed – definitely not for the faint of heart.
But as support from ESP’s and MAP’s grows, alongside additional email clients jumping on the wagon of AMP compatibility, it’ll soon be a viable offering for businesses of all sizes, bringing emails out of the dark, static times they’re in. You can take a peek at what’s ahead in the AMP project’s playground here.
Need help with your email marketing strategy? Get in touch with us today!