In February 2018, Gmail announced native support for dynamic and interactive emails powered by AMP—an open-source technology from Google that’s designed to improve the performance of web content, in particular on mobile devices. Using a separate MIME-type, marketers will be able to leverage AMP to add interactivity to their emails.
Interest in interactive email is high. At the beginning of 2018, marketers told Litmus that interactive email is the top email design trend of 2018, with more marketers expected to embrace interactive email techniques. AMP for Email, in theory, has the potential to bring email marketers a big step closer to their interactive email goals.
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Marketers are thrilled to give AMP a try
To better understand marketers’ thoughts on AMP for Email, we polled over a thousand marketers on whether they’ve heard of AMP for Email, and if they had any plans on using it. Of those that did know what AMP for Email was, 31% said they were very likely to use it.
Clearly, marketers are excited about the prospect of leveraging AMP to easily create interactive experiences for their audiences. For a long time, interactive email has been seen as a technique that only large brands with extensive development and design resources can execute on. AMP for Email could make creating interactive email more accessible for all marketers, especially those with lots of Gmail users among their subscribers.
But marketers’ excitement isn’t the only factor that will influence the adoption of AMP for Email. In fact, there are some major hurdles that might hinder marketers from even getting started with creating AMP-powered emails.
1. Missing support from ESPs
Creating interactive emails using AMP for Email isn’t as simple as creating an HTML email. AMP for Email requires a third, separate MIME-type: text-x-amphtml.
Email marketers already use two different MIME types to create emails for the HTML part (text/html) and plain-text part (text/plain) of an email. This is why, in your ESP, you have to create an HTML version and a plain-text version of every email you send.
For AMP-powered emails, you’ll have to add a third MIME-type to your email. And that’s the problem: Without ESPs adding support for this third MIME-type, there is physically no way of creating and sending AMP-powered emails.
While marketers are excited about getting started with AMP for email, we have to wait for ESP support. And right now, the majority of ESPs are showing no signs of supporting AMP’s MIME-type.
This situation may feel familiar to email marketers. In May 2015, the new Apple watch MIME-type was released, which still has almost no support from ESPs.
2. Exclusive to Gmail
AMP for Email is currently exclusively available for Gmail users. While Gmail is one of the most popular email clients with 26% of all emails opened in a Gmail inbox, on average, the audience for consumers that could see AMP-powered emails is limited. And it could be lower depending on your own audience.
Marketers will have to consider whether it’s worth investing resources into AMP-powered emails that can only be seen by subscribers who open in Gmail. For brands with a small Gmail audience—like many B2B brands—investing in AMP might just not be worth it.
Plus, there are so many different types of Gmail—webmail client, mobile app, GANGA, G Suite—considering Gmail’s history of inconsistent rendering, we have to wonder whether AMP for Email will be enabled on across all Gmail clients. This could cut down the potential AMP audience even more.
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3. Email performance tracking
It’s vital for marketers to know how well their email campaigns perform. Currently, marketers can use a range of analytics software and email metrics to get all sorts of engagement and revenue data from their email campaigns.
However, it’s not clear how marketers will be able to track and report on AMP-powered emails. In interactive emails, much more of the engagement is happening within the inbox—whether it’s hovering over items in a carousel or clicking through a selection of deals—and none of these actions can be measured with traditional email marketing metrics.
If marketers are keen to implement AMP-powered emails, it’s clear that they would need to rethink how email performance is captured and measured.
4. Updating Emails Post-Send
Marketers often wish they could update the content of an email after it’s been sent to correct a mistake or refresh an offer. With AMP-powered emails, marketers will be able to do just that. But, the question is, should they be able to?
Updating an email post-send could be troubling or confusing from a subscriber perspective. A medium known to consumers as a static one turns into a dynamic feed that the sender can change as they please. Imagine opening the same email once, twice, and then a third time expecting to find the same content and not? It’s a tactic that may lead to losing trust among your subscribers—a valuable commodity in email marketing.
Using AMP-powered emails, responsible marketers will be able to update email content on the fly to make it more relevant or replace expired offers with a newer one. But, as with interactive emails, a certain amount of subscriber education will be required to reduce confusion.
5. A Step Away from Email Coding Standardization
Email developers have long craved the kind of coding standardization that the web has had for years. Despite efforts from the email community, that standardization still hasn’t happened.
AMP-powered emails rely on client-specific coding—again, it’s only supported by Gmail. That is another step away from email coding standardization, and will require email developers to learn another specific skill set in order to simply build an email.
So, will AMP for Email take off?
AMP for Email looks like a step forward for email marketers who want to push the boundaries of their email marketing, and clearly, marketers are excited about the new opportunities that come with AMP. This might be the most crucial factor for adoption. However, with so many hurdles in the way, it may be a while until marketers can start sending AMP-powered interactive emails.
Will you be creating emails powered by AMP? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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