The Buzz About AMP: How Brands Can Create Interactive Email Experiences

Earlier this year, Google announced a new feature that’ll change the way we interact with emails—AMP for email. Have you heard the buzz about how you can use it to make your emails interactive? It’s pretty exciting stuff for brand builders. Not familiar with it? Catch up here

It’s something we’ve been tuned into here at Klaviyo and, in recent months, we’ve added the capability for brands to send AMP emails from Klaviyo.

Last month at Klaviyo:BOS, Sean Walsh, Klaviyo’s senior product manager, took the stage alongside Nikita Shenkman, senior software engineer, to speak about what AMP is, how it really works, and why ecommerce brands should be excited. 

I recently sat down with Sean to get his take on this exciting new development and how brands can use AMP for email within Klaviyo today.

 

Katie Tierney [KT]: You presented a session about AMP for email last month at Klaviyo:BOS. Tell me more about what that is. 

Sean Walsh [SW]: AMP for email is a way to make emails more interactive in the inbox and to create rich dynamic web experiences inside of an email. Historically, your experience with email has included mainly just text, links, and images. But AMP now helps you create more interactivity in your emails in a lot of ways that really haven’t been possible before. 

Say you send out an abandoned cart email to people who’ve shopped on your site. With an AMP version of that email, your recipients can actually click around within the email and see things that are of interest to them—images of different products, for example—without having to leave their email. They could also expand or collapse certain areas of your email to see specific items that may be of interest to them. If an item catches their eye, they can also click “Add to Cart” right from their email without having to click through to your site.

 

[KT]: Interesting. Why is this something that ecommerce brands should care about? Don’t brands want to get people to their site? 

[SW]: Because email has historically been quite static, recipients would always need to click through a link to your website from your email to shop or make a purchase. There’s still a ton of reasons why you want to get people to your website and email is a great way to do that, but there are other cases where you may want to create a richer experience in your emails so your recipients can take action or have a better experience without ever having to leave it.

Let’s go back to the abandoned cart email, for example. Seeing more content at once keeps recipients engaged and helps them make better decisions on the fly without having to leave their email. 

With AMP, you can also provide up-to-the-minute information in your email, so you could show whether an item is sold out or limited in quantity right inside of your email. For example, if you’re running a flash sale where things are selling out quickly, this feature will help ensure whoever opens your email doesn’t have a bad experience by seeing items they can’t even buy anymore. 

Another example would be a shipping confirmation email. With AMP, you can provide your customers with a live tracking status of their order inside that email. Your customers can use that as their shipping status page rather than having to click through an email to a separate status page online, which saves them time and creates a better experience with your brand.

 

[KT]: How important are interactive email experiences?

[SW]: With normal HTML email, interactivity for the sake of interactivity isn’t really going to drive any additional conversions, similar to how adding a .gif to an email isn’t going to really impact the conversion rates of people clicking through the email unless the .gif has something to do with actually incentivizing the person to do so. 

AMP is in the same vein. It’s really a technology that enables you to create, in email, interactive experiences that we’ve come to expect on the web. With it, you can do things like show or hide specific content, show a carousel of images, update content in real-time which are the basic building blocks you can use to start creating really rich, personalized experiences for your customers.

 

[KT]: So if I’m getting an email from your brand, how will I have a better experience if I receive an AMP version of your email? 

[SW]: You won’t have to leave your inbox to either see up-to-date information or to interact with a brand, so you can basically consume more information that’s relevant to you in one place without having to leave your inbox. AMP allows brands to create a richer personalized experience in the inbox that isn’t necessarily possible with a static piece of content like a traditional email. 

Today, brands can send you, as a recipient, your own personalized set of content in an email but that can’t change once it’s been sent. You can’t pick and choose what parts of the email you want to look at. So for example, I could have a lot of information about you based on how you’ve interacted with my brand in the past but I don’t necessarily know what you want to look at today on my site—pants, shirts, or socks. With an interactive email, I can send you information about all of those items and you can choose what you want to focus on at that precise time. Ultimately, an interactive email gives you a better shopping experience with a brand.

 

[KT]: Are brands using interactive email as a way to drive more brand loyalty? More conversions? What do you think is the main benefit for them? What problems are they using it to solve?

[SW]: It’s early days, so it’s hard to say, but yes, both of those areas can be impacted by interactive email experiences. 

I think one particular benefit can be an improved transactional experience with things like shipping confirmations or abandoned cart emails. These emails could have more dense and live information to make the email a single source of truth you can revisit. 

Then there are benefits to a brand on the marketing side where AMP lets you collect more information about your customers from right inside the email based on what they’re clicking on and the actions they take. 

More and more, I think people expect really rich, personalized, and interactive experiences with brands, and sometimes it’s hard to do that given the constraints of email. Take the abandoned cart email again, for example. AMP for email helps solve problems like when you want to send an abandoned cart email, but you want the recipient to be able to see what your product looks like on someone who’s wearing a size small, medium, large. Today in email, that requires you to send all of those images and prioritize them in a static way. With AMP, that can now be dynamic and people can interact with your email in a way that they’ve already become very familiar with on the web. 

AMP helps brands make your experience in email more similar to your experience on web, which, depending on the use case, drives engagement and makes people more comfortable with completing the intended action.

 

[KT]: On the transactional side of things, you mentioned AMP emails could have really dynamic, live, real-time information. Do you suspect that will have any impact on a brand’s customer support function, like reduced customer calls or emails into the brand’s call centers? 

[SW]: That’s hard to say at this point. Ultimately, I think people will use interactive email to replicate the same use case of clicking through an email to a webpage. Really, these experiences help to reduce the work it takes for someone to engage with your brand. Though, sometimes you do want people to click through to your website so you can design a rich interactive experience that influences the action you want to drive. 

When Google first released AMP for email, they offered two interesting examples of how a brand might use an interactive email. The first was Pinterest which would allow you to see a board, click on recommended images, and pin them to your board all from within the email. And so that’s kind of taking the web experience of Pinterest and putting it in an email. 

Another example is Doodle, which allowed you to actually fill out a Doodle poll from inside the email. The benefit to the end recipient is that you reduce the number of clicks it takes to achieve an action. And for the brand or the company sending the email, in theory, there’ll be a higher completion rate if people have fewer clicks to do something. So, in theory, it should help brands to drive engagement.

 

[KT]: How will brands benefit from using AMP as part of their email marketing strategy?

[SW]: Giving your recipients an experience in email that’s interactive can, in some cases, help them have a better overall experience with your brand and, in other cases, help them to convert more. By optimizing the experience you create, you make it easier for people to engage with your brand. 

For example, from some brands, I get a long, giant email with tons of content… too much, actually. A brand could use an interactive version of their email to ask me what I want to learn more about and I can click on it and see more information about it right there in the email. I don’t have to continuously scroll and dig around for information that might be relevant to what I may be interested in at that particular moment.

 

[KT]: How do I know I’m getting an AMP version of an email versus a regular HTML or a plain text email? What’s enticing me to actually click through and open it?

[SW]: When you send an email, they have what’s called different MIME types. So usually emails have an HTML and a plain text MIME type. Most people see the HTML but you can have your email clients set up to show plain text. For example, in places like the Pentagon, I suspect they only show plain text emails for security reasons. AMP is just a new MIME type. Everybody you send your email to gets the same subject line and preview text, and then they get an HTML, plain text, and an AMP MIME type and their inbox chooses which one to display. So right now Gmail web-mail will show the AMP version, or the AMP MIME type, but all other email clients will just show HTML.

 

[KT]: What do brands need to know about AMP for email as they consider using it as part of their email marketing strategy?

[SW]: There are a lot of considerations. First, it’s only supported on Gmail web-mail right now. Based on email client market share data and some research we’ve done, it looks like that accounts for about eight percent of the email client market share. That means if you send an email to a sample of 100 people, only eight of them will actually see the AMP MIME type. Everyone else is going to see the HTML one. That’s a pretty small slice of pie, but support for Gmail mobile app is in a closed beta right now, which would be another 22 percent of the pie. And then Yahoo mail and Outlook.com have said they’re working on AMP, but we don’t have a timeline for that. So in theory that would bring it up to 32 percent. But still Apple and Outlook are the two big players that account for more than 60 percent of the pie, but they haven’t yet said anything about AMP so HTML will be the primary medium that people see for a while.

Another thing brands need to know is that when it comes to coding up the AMP MIME type, it does take some additional work to do that. You can’t say, “I have this email where I have a bunch of images I want to turn into a carousel. Let me just add an AMP carousel to the middle of it and call that my AMP MIME type.” There are some additional rules such as those for different headers. You can’t use the image tag from your HTML email. You have to replace it with the AMP image tag, which has different rules around what parameters need to be in it. Basically you need to convert your HTML version into an AMP version, which is not a trivial process. 

The last big thing they need to know is that to send AMP emails, you need to get approved by Google as a bulk sender. That requires you to have a dedicated sending domain to actually get approved by Google and you need to go through the approval process, which currently looks like sending them a production quality email with an AMP MIME type, as well as submitting a form they’ll review and get back to you once you’re approved. When that happens, you can then start bulk sending to people at large. But before you’re approved, if you send an email with AMP, Gmail will not display it to anybody.

 

[KT]: Can brands use AMP for email within Klaviyo today?

[SW]: Yes! To be eligible to start sending AMP emails, you need to have a dedicated sending domain and a good sender reputation to get approved by Google as a bulk sender. If you’re interested, reach out and we’ll be in touch to help get you started. 

Natively within Klaviyo, customers will be able to send self-service AMP emails without having to rely on an account manager or a technical expert. You’ll be able to quickly upload an AMP version of your campaign through Klaviyo so you can manage multiple MIME types in a single campaign, which will help you move fast. You’ll also be able to compare the performance of your AMP emails with your HTML emails by seeing funnel metrics for the different versions in the same campaign. And you’ll be able to do all this without having to constantly manage multiple files or work with designers and technical experts to get your emails out the door since you can save AMP versions of your emails in Klaviyo. And to ensure you have confidence that what you designed will work as it’s intended, you’ll be able to preview and test everything before you send it so you know for sure everything will render properly and ensure your AMP code is valid before you hit send. 

 

[KT]: Great, thanks Sean. Any final thoughts?

[SW]: One thing to be mindful of is the conversion rate of AMP emails isn’t just going to go up because suddenly your customers are receiving an interactive email. It’s really about how you use it. I think of AMP as a set of tools rather than a solution. It lets you do some more things that you couldn’t do before. 

As excitement and adoption for AMP grows, we’ll further explore how you can use Klaviyo to send AMP emails beyond what I mentioned earlier and make that experience more accessible to everyone. Like everything we do with Klaviyo, we build what helps grow your business, so if we’re seeing AMP as a great way to do that, you can bet we’re going to invest more into it.

Things are still early stage, but we’re excited about all of the possibilities that AMP can offer brands and buyers and we’re excited to work with more brands to create rich, interactive email experiences with AMP. 

Learn more about sending AMP emails in Klaviyo.

 

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