This article was first published in March 2018, and updated in May 2020.
Most marketers have heard about the rise of interactive content. Interactive content includes anything that your consumers click on, swipe, or interact with. According to Martech Advisor, “interactive email content increases the click-to-open rate by 73% and adding videos to your email content can boost click rates up to 300%.”
However, why do customers and subscribers prefer interactive content? Moreover, if they do, how do we, as an industry, rise to meet their demands?
As interactive content permeates the marketing sphere, brands are jumping on the bandwagon to experiment, especially when it comes to email. Many of those brands are already finding that their subscribers love interactive content in an email.
What is interactive content in email?
Interactive content is anything that requires a viewer to engage actively and participate with the content to access the full experience, usually by tapping, swiping, or interacting with the piece of content. Interactive email just incorporates that premise into an email campaign.
Due to technical challenges, email’s still playing catch-up when it comes to adding interactivity. However, there are a few ways to give your emails an interactive edge right now. Soon, though, we expect emails to be on par with other web properties. Gmail seems to be already laying the groundwork for this to happen.
How do I make interactive emails?
There are many ways to help make an email interactive. One way is through the use of GIFs. While GIFS are probably the most prevalent example of interactive content in an email, linking to videos or other interactive experiences is becoming more common. This excellent holiday GIF from Fundbox, for example, uses motion to capture the eye and lead it down the page towards a CTA.
Another way to create an interactive email is through the use of videos. While adding videos is still a bit tricky, using email services like Campaign Monitor makes it easy to include videos in your email campaigns.
What’s important to remember when adding videos to your email is to keep it short and sweet. Including long videos will bog your email down, making it difficult for some subscribers to open. An alternative method would include a clickable image of your video that’s hyperlinked to your website, where you can upload and host your full-length video.
Consumers want to be entertained.
According to an interactive email survey from Zembula, consumers, above anything else, want to have fun. More than they want to be informed, or made to feel curious, customers are looking for their favorite brands to entertain them with cutting-edge interactive content. In fact, according to DemandGen, 91% of B2B buyers prefer to consume interactive and visual content.
Since interactive content requires the recipient to act in order to get the full message, the recipient then becomes part of your marketing, which boosts engagement and feelings of brand loyalty.
So why does interactive content convert so consistently? (Interactive content generates 2x more conversions than passive content, according to Kapost.)
The survey revealed that interactive content is rated as more engaging than static content, as the respondents rated it even more enticing than images and videos, with 69% of them preferring GIFs, 65% preferring video, and 82% preferring interactivity in any form over traditional static emails.
What is a kinetic email?
A kinetic email takes interactive email a step further by combining the use of HTML and CSS to enable interactivity by controlling template-level design elements. This means that users can fully interact with the majority—if not all parts—of the email’s design.
Take this example email by B&Q:
B&Q’s kinetic email made use of “tap to interact” callouts to display the content quickly and more elegantly inside an in-email slideshow. How’d this email perform? An 18% increase in responder-to-open rates with a 32% increase among club members, plus an additional 42,000 click-throughs to the B&Q’s website.
Psychological principles motivate interaction.
You can also provide your customers with entertainment in the form of curiosity by utilizing proven psychological principles to motivate interaction.
Interactive content is perfect for fostering curiosity by creating tension. Experiences that require an action to uncover part of the marketing message, like a digital scratch-it, are more likely to convert than traditional text or image-based campaigns.
Finally, you can boost your marketing message further by offering a deal or discount, which encourages consumers to share with their friends and family. Combine your existing deal or discount content with an added boost of interactivity to get better results.
Personalization rules the interactive content world.
Interactive content also gives brands the ability to take their email personalization to the next level.
The modern consumer expects brands to speak directly to them. And personalization continues to grow in marketers’ goals as the years pass—yet many are still behind on implementing personalized campaigns at scale.
So let’s break down this practice and explore an easy onramp into personalizing your emails with interactive content.
What is email personalization?
Here’s our definition: Email personalization is the process of using subscriber data to create personalized email content to send to their subscriber’s list.
Why’s personalization so important? Mostly because a personalized marketing message allows the recipient to feel like they’re building a reciprocal relationship with your brand. This increases feelings of loyalty and brand affinity.
In the survey mentioned above, 69% of respondents stated they were more likely to buy from a brand that uses personalization techniques over brands that don’t offer any personal connection in their content.
Still not convinced that personalization and interactive content is the way to succeed with your next email campaign? Just read these real responses from survey participants about why they’re more motivated to open and engage with personalized, interactive emails:
- I love interactive websites and emails. It says the business has invested in me, their products, and my opinions.
- It makes me remember the brand.
- I love emails that really POP! Having something interactive engages me more and holds my attention.
How you can personalize interactive emails
Personalized interactive emails are fairly easy to create, especially if you’re using GIFs. Nearly every ESP plays nicely with GIFs used as images (just look at our example below).
Using personalization tokens is another easy way to sneak in some personalization to your emails, in general. If you pair this with interactivity, you’ll find it creates a more one-to-one feel for the recipient. This is because they have to participate in your offer.
Segmentation can also help you personalize your content. If you can segment your lists properly, you can send different types of interactive experiences to each of those lists. This will make their experience with your brand very relevant and enjoyable.
What is a dynamic email?
A dynamic email makes use of triggers to display specific content based on subscriber data. This data can include anything from their gender, age, geographical location, occupation, and more.
Dynamic email, featuring dynamic content, is especially helpful in retail email campaigns. This is because the information of the specific user helps to determine what products may be displayed or suggested.
Take this example by Adidas:
In this example, Adidas used segmentation to determine which trigger to use in order to display the correct dynamic content.
Setting up simple triggers, such as gender and location, is a great way to start. However, marketers can get more detailed with their triggers, such as segmenting by the amount a subscriber has spent in the past.
Consumers want interactive content above all else.
For years, marketers have known that images, GIFs, and video improve email KPIs. Not only do these visual elements drive more conversions, but they also ensure more of your marketing message is retained by your target audience.
In fact, when people simply hear information, they retain about 10% of what they learned three days later. However, pair a relevant image with that information and customers remember 65% of the same information three days out. If images and video are so effective in driving conversions and creating brand memorability, how does interactive content stack up?
It turns out that the staggering consumer preference for images and visual content continues as marketers incorporate dynamic, interactive content in our emails. In fact, interactive content outperformed every other type of content in a survey done by Zembula.
When survey participants were shown two different emails and asked which one they were more likely to engage with, interactive content beat out static content by a landslide. Only 18% of survey respondents preferred traditional static email campaigns, while a whopping 82% were more likely to respond to the interactive message.
We feel strongly that Interactive content will continue to grow, as consumers come to expect even more entertainment, personalization, and engagement from brands. Not only do potential customers overwhelmingly prefer interactivity in their email, but it also makes them more likely to read, remember, share, and convert. These trends in email are only going to grow as companies shift away from mass marketing to something more personalized and engaging.
With email personalization continuing to prove essential in email marketing, you’ll want to make sure your marketing team begins implementing it into your strategy, if they haven’t already.
Want to learn more about email personalization? Check out these 15 email personalization stats that may surprise you.