Google’s recent announcement to integrate AMP into the email channel created a ton of buzz in the industry. Last month, its inbox capabilities were showcased at AMP Conf 2018 by experts including Seth Weisfeld of Pinterest.
Since this news could mean a potential sea of change to the industry, Seth and the BrightWave team will dive into AMP during the ‘#Trending: Edge of the Inbox’ session at EiQ. But to hold you off until April, we got the scoop on AMP from a creative and strategic email marketing point-of-view. Check out what VP, Creative Director Laura Sullivan and Director of Strategic Services Kristen Speagle have to say about this hot topic.
What is it exactly?
Laura: This has been the talk of the email world, maybe even the tech world, for the last few weeks. Google announced plans to make emails more interactive and personalized on their platform, bringing almost a mini-app experience into the inbox at their conference in Amsterdam.
Kristen: AMP is a coding language that has been around for a while, actually. AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) was developed by Google to help mobile pages render faster. It isn’t “new”, but it is new to the email channel. It allows marketers to create multi-dimensional experiences in the inbox that aren’t restricted to a linear UX path.
What does this mean for email?
Laura: In terms of email design and functionality, some pretty cool things could be possible for those who use Gmail as their service provider of choice. That’s about 26% of the market share–not including those who check their Gmail in Apple Mail, on their iPad and on their iPhone so certainly nothing to ignore. There’s also the assumption that other email clients will follow suit once they see the possibilities.
“What are the possibilities?” you ask? We’re talking about some really, really cool interactive features. You can complete an RSVP form to a party without leaving the inbox–or check to see how many have RSVPed in real-time if you are the organizer. You can make preference selections and see your recommendations change right before your eyes. You can even fill out a questionnaire with short editable fields or a variety of other answer formats. The list of UI possibilities that might easily be integrated into email goes on.
Kristen: Multi-dimensional experiences have never really been prevalent in email, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It allowed email to cement its place in the digital marketing ecosystem, and the ease of ensuring accurate rendering for email has been a part of why email has stood the test of time. This feature expansion provides yet another way for email to evolve beyond the passive revenue driver that it has been in the past.
Historically, email has been the invitation to the party….a sort of digital traffic cop that drives customers to another channel for the next action. The conversions rarely happened IN the inbox, but with AMP for email there are fewer reasons to move the customer away from the email itself to an app or landing page.
What’s the catch?
Laura: Many of the features touted with AMP are interactive features that we’ve already been hacking at BrightWave, like accordion menus, image carousels and preference selection. There are also third party services, like Movable Ink and RealTime Email, who have been providing some of these interactive and up-to-the minute features for a while. The big news is that they just may be more accessible and easy to integrate.
Kristen: There are plenty of possible catches, not the least of which are technical requirements and limitations. For example, AMP isn’t universal….it will only work for Gmail subscribers on desktop or in the Gmail app (for now). It also isn’t designed for marketers to use since development skills are required. That isn’t unusual for email, but it does add an additional layer of complication when resource planning.
Another complication for marketers is that AMP decentralizes email. As I mentioned earlier, part of the magic of email is the ease of ensuring accurate rendering. One simple HTML document can be reliably trusted to render correctly across most platforms, but Google’s enablement of AMP along with last year’s responsive design and embedded style support add several additional layers of complication and fallback requirements.
I think the important thing to take away from Google’s announcement is that while this technology is new to email, many of the features and functionality that it enables are not. Brands such as Movable Ink, Liveclicker, and Rebel offer widely supported interactive inbox experiences that can be assembled and deployed without a developer resource, along with fallback content and out-of-the-box reporting capabilities. I’m cautiously optimistic about what this could mean long-term and for now I’m happy to play around in the AMP sandbox while proceeding with more tried and true tools.