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How to Get Buy-In for Interactive Email

When designing and creating email, it’s important to get your message across in an accessible way. But that’s only the first step. To truly engage your subscribers and make your email stand out, you must surprise and delight them.

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One way to do that is through adding interactivity to your email.

Interactive emails take some serious planning, but doing so can really strengthen the quality of your email marketing program. (And, let’s face it. It’s just plain cool.) We sat down with Veda Kumarjiguda, Client Success Rebel at Rebelmail, on how to convince your extended team about what you already know—that interactive email is worth it.

What is email interactivity? Are there elements or tactics that some marketers are referring to as interactive but are not?

We often see email marketers using common web features in their email designs (like using a graphic of search bar). However, these features are non-interactive—they take the subscriber out of the email and to a webpage. At Rebelmail, we define interactivity as:

An action taken in an email that triggers an event within the same email. For example, tapping an arrow on a dropdown to open a dropdown within the email.

We’ve seen marketers use terms like CSS animation, dynamic email, kinetic email, and interactive email interchangeably. Let’s break those down:

  • CSS animation is a great replacement for a animated GIF in email (smaller file size!) and a wonderful email enhancement, but it does not allow a subscriber to take an action within an email.
  • Dynamic email has content that can change after the email has been sent. For example, a clothing store can change the products in the hero image depending on the location of the subscriber.
  • Kinetic email is strategic term, which encompasses animation, interactive, and dynamic elements within a campaign.

All these email enhancements can and should be used in conjunction with each other to strengthen your email marketing program.

What are some common examples of email interactivity?

There’s so much you can do with interactivity! The first step is to determine the goal of your email campaign. If you’re an e-commerce brand and you need a subscriber to click to a product page to purchase, you can bring the elements of the product page to the inbox. You can include a photo gallery to showcase multiple product views, dropdowns, or color swatches and add an add-to-cart CTA. The subscriber can take all these actions without going to the web.

A great place to include interactivity is within an onboarding or welcome series. You implement a quiz or survey in the first email in the series and personalize the rest of the campaign based on the results. Interactivity creates an ease of communication between subscriber and marketer.

What are some things to keep in mind when creating an interactive email?

Interactivity is created through HTML and CSS and can be created in-house or through a service like Rebelmail. 70% of all email clients support interactivity, so to ensure that all your subscribers have a great experience, you have to include a fallback design.

It is also important to thoroughly QA your interactive email, as every email client displays interactivity differently. While it may be difficult to measure the success of an interactive email, we’ve seen a lot of brands experimenting with interactivity—so if there’s a will, there’s a way. There’s tons of conversation and brainstorming happening online (hello, email geeks) where you can find support for your interactive endeavors.

What are some use cases for email interactivity?

Quizzes, search, reviews, photo galleries, in-email add-to-cart, in email purchase, filters, and in-email ad units are all use cases for interactivity in email.

Interactive elements can enhance any section of of your email. For example, imagine a search bar in your email header or a product gallery in an email receipt which prompts the subscriber to add to their order.


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Which type of email campaigns is interactivity a logical choice for?

Interactivity is a great option for educating subscribers about a product or feature, for collecting information from a subscriber, for allowing a subscriber to make a choice within an email, or for decreasing friction in the conversion funnel.

As corny as it sounds, you just have to open your mind to the power of interactivity.

Because many consumers aren’t used to email interactivity, how can marketers make it clear to subscribers that they can interact with the email?

We recommend using tool-tips and strong copy to prompt a subscriber to interact with the elements. We’ve seen that the more a brand sends interactivity, the more a subscriber interacts. There is a familiarization and education process involved.

How can marketers measure the effectiveness or ROI of interactive email?

At Rebelmail, we provide clients with access to metrics surrounding interactivity. When subscribers can complete their actions without going to a site, click-through is no longer king. Instead, we look at engagement as the key metric of success. We define engagement as the sum of subscribers who clicked and/or interacted with an email. It demonstrates the subscriber’s interest in accelerating their purchase decision.

From there, marketers can look at who interacted with the product views and selected a size, but did not add to cart. Marketers can then retarget these subscribers through another email campaign or target through social media. These interactions demonstrate interest in the product and increase the value of every email you send.

How do you convince your boss or clients about the benefits of using email interactivity?

Email continues to be the most effective online marketing tool. It’s important to constantly improve your subscribers’ experience across devices and to keep your email marketing program (and subscribers) on their toes!

In addition, interactive emails and engagement metrics allows marketers to tap into the full value of an email campaign, but we’ll let the results speak for themselves.

What are the biggest roadblocks or objections you typically see when it comes to interactive email? How do you advise overcoming such objections?

Traditionally, email has been about taking the subscriber from the email to the website. Interactive email keeps the subscriber in the email, which may reduce click-through rate (a scary thought to some marketers). However, forward-looking marketers will see interactivity as a way to enhance email and gather unique data. Limited resources, technical know-how, and fear of failure/the unknown continue to be the largest roadblocks for marketers/designers to begin their interactive journey.

Using an email service that provides interactive email services, like Rebelmail, ameliorates issues surrounding limited resources and limited technical knowledge. We want to see interactivity in every inbox!

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Kayla Voigt

Kayla Voigt

Kayla Voigt is a freelance writer