How to make your emails more interactive [Expert Tips + Examples]

As a millennial, my experience with email was very interesting.

For a while I was given chain mail there that I had to forward unless I wanted something terrible to happen to me or my family. Then I would send junk email from brands I didn’t care about.

Today I look forward to reading my email and hearing about everything from my favorite brands, from the news and the marketing world to product launches and sales.

As this marketing channel evolves, users are looking for interactivity. Reading emails is more fun and a great way to convert users on the brand side.

Let’s examine how to use interactive elements in your emails and how brands get it right.

What is an interactive email?

An interactive e-mail contains functional elements that invite readers to engage with the content by typing, swiping, clicking or simply looking at the content. Interactive elements can be anything from a GIF and illustration to a quiz or countdown timer.

So why the urge for interactive email? Ashley Riordan, growth marketing manager at HubSpot, says users expect more these days.

“If you think of your own inbox – business or personal – the number of emails we receive in a day is very high,” said Riordan. “Interactive emails, whether it’s a personalized item or a multimedia feature, help grab readers’ attention, make your email stand out from the crowd, and avoid that noise.”

She suggests calling this era: E-Mail 2.0. Interesting email content isn’t enough – now it takes it one step further to get your audience involved in the emails they receive.

Studies show that consumers are welcoming this change, it is marketers who are reluctant.

“91% of consumers want interactive content, but only 17% of marketers offer it,” said Megan Moller, director of content marketing at Litmus. “This could be a missed opportunity as competition for subscriber attention is at an all-time high and marketers report that click-through rates improve by 200% using interactivity.”

The possibilities aren’t exactly endless, but they are quite extensive. You can add interactivity to email by adding a form, faux video, embedded video, animated GIFs, or a carousel.

However, Möller adds that you need to make sure that these elements work for your audience.

“Don’t just add them for interactivity. Not all email clients support interactivity – although AMP is increasingly supporting email,” she added. “Use a tool like Litmus Email Analytics to discover what environments (email clients, devices, etc.) your subscribers are in so you know what interactive strategies are possible with your subscribers.”

3 reasons to create an interactive email newsletter

We know that interactive elements can make emails more attractive and increase your conversions. But when do you usually use them? Technically, you can always implement them, but here are some of the most popular ways to take advantage of interactive elements.

1. Highlight new product features.

Would you like to announce updates for your products or tease upcoming products? Why talk about it when you can only show it?

Take a look at this example from Canva.

Example of an interactive email from Canva

The graphic design platform regularly sends emails to subscribers to share new features. By adding a simple GIF like this, users can quickly understand the new feature and enjoy what they can create on the platform.

Here’s another great example from Later.

Later interactive email example

2. Tease an upcoming event or announcement.

Suppose you are preparing for a big sale or an upcoming event. You can use interactive elements to create a sensation and anticipation for your offers.

Example of an interactive email Adidas

Adidas has created a fantastic GIF in honor of Mother’s Day showing a woman walking in Adidas gear with her two children.

It’s a great example of using GIFs in emails to attract the reader while maintaining your brand’s visual identity.

3. Increase your email engagement.

Sometimes you might not have anything special to promote, but you want to improve your metrics.

Your click or open rate may be low and you want to encourage your subscribers to participate. This is a good reason to add some interactivity to your newsletter.

The Daily Carnage interactive email sample

Take The Daily Carnage, a daily newsletter that covers everything about marketing.

With every newsletter comes a question of the day related to a topic that is covered in the email. Once you’ve submitted your answers, you’ll be able to see how other subscribers have answered the question.

This does two things: it gets users excited about the content, and it helps the Carney team learn more about their audience.

Examples of interactive emails

GIFs

Example of an interactive GIF email

GIFS are the perfect midpoint between images and videos.

A video can weigh down your email and slow your loading speed. If you want to add some movement to your email but don’t want to go all the way to embedding a video, GIFs are the way to go. They are also eye-catching.

“Compared to a static image, GIFs are more noticeable and therefore more noticeable,” said Riordan.

At HubSpot we have had great success with them.

When sending out greetings for new contacts, we found that emails with GIFs had a click-through rate that was twice as high as emails without.

Not only do you grab subscribers’ attention, you convert too.

quiz

Example of an interactive HubSpot email

As we covered in the previous section with The Daily Canage, you can increase the engagement rate of your newsletter by including quizzes and surveys.

At HubSpot, we saw a 5% increase in open rates and an increase in clicks after adding a question of the day survey to one of our newsletters.

Here’s how it works: Users must answer today’s “Question of the Day” to see the poll results for yesterday’s question. This approach, according to Marketing Manager at HubSpot Clint Fontanella, creates this cliffhanger effect that keeps users busy.

“This was our most successful test because it gave readers nothing in exchange for nothing. It gave them information and a little excitement and competition in exchange for visiting our blog,” said Fontanella, who previously ran the service blog newsletter managed. “It also gave them a reason to come back every day. By participating in today’s question, they could see yesterday’s results.”

Countdown timer

Do you want to get your audience excited about an upcoming event or sale? Consider countdown timers.

Example of an interactive e-mail with a countdown timer

Image source

A countdown timer is a great way to create a sense of urgency and build anticipation. While this requires some knowledge of HTML, it can be worth the time.

In 2020, Riordan wanted to increase registrations and get a series of webinars going. She ran a 50/50 test variant with one email with a countdown timer in the header image and another without.

The version with the countdown timer resulted in 30% more registrations.

In addition to being useful for upcoming events or sales, a timer can also be used for:

  • Product or website launches
  • Free trial notifications
  • Milestone celebrations

Personalized calculator

When we think of personalization in emails, we usually think of adding the subscriber’s name in the subject line and email body. However, there are ways to go a step further. Example of an interactive HubSpot email

For example, this HubSpot website grader is an interactive tool that sends prospects a customized report on their website’s performance, along with specific recommendations and resources for improvement.

This is a great lead generation tool that can help you bring a subscriber one step closer to a customer.

Interactive email design

Keep it one interactive element per email.

While it may be tempting, make sure you don’t overdo it with your interactive elements. A good rule of thumb is one per email.

“Your email recipients are likely to be drawn to the interactive element that is the target, but it also means that other parts of your email may be overlooked,” Riordan said. “Try to center your email around an interactive factor, be it a survey, video, or GIF.”

She adds, “You don’t want to compete for attention in your own email – the interactive part should be the main message.”

Don’t be afraid to experiment.

With every new strategy you implement, there is a learning curve.

You may need to try out some interactive elements before figuring out what works best. And even if you set the right strategy, it can change depending on the type of email you’re sending and the goals you’re trying to achieve.

Suppose you want to generate more sales for a product. You tried embedding videos of happy customers and adding photos of positive reviews, but it doesn’t get positive results. Then you find that creating lifestyle GIFs of the product increases conversions by 10%. You use this strategy from then on.

As your goals change, so do the methods you try. Be flexible and always ready to try different strategies.

Prioritize accessibility.

When including interactivity in your email, don’t forget to consider accessibility. This ensures that visually impaired, deaf and hard of hearing users can easily enjoy your email.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Include descriptive alternate text in any image, GIF, or interactive element.
  • Use high-contrast colors. Use this tool to check that you are on the right track.
  • Design your e-mail with the “dark mode” in mind.
  • Add subtitles and transcripts to your videos.

Interactive email templates

1. Litmus

litmus interactive email template

Litmus makes email marketing easy.

The platform offers a variety of interactive features and tools that you can customize based on the viewport (i.e. device) and email service. This includes hover effects, animated PNGs, and dark mode targeting.

In addition, the platform is suitable for both small to medium-sized companies and companies. Prices range from $ 99 per month to $ 199 per month. Custom pricing is available for larger companies.

2. MailChimpMailchimp interactive email template

MailChimp is one of the best email marketing platforms out there, known for its easy-to-use interface.

On the platform, you will find over 100 campaign templates designed by professionals. All you have to do is fill in the blanks and hit “Submit”.

With the drag and drop functionality, you can add interactive elements anywhere in your email and even import custom HTML templates.

MailChimp has a free version for those just starting out with email marketing and costs up to $ 299 per month.

3. Stripo

Stripo interactive email template

If you want to skip the coding when creating your email newsletter, Stripo has the templates you need.

All you have to do is go to the website, find a template that you like and customize it. It integrates with over 60 email service providers and makes it easy for you to transfer your design.

You can use Stripo for free. To use the premium features, you must subscribe to a monthly or annual plan for $ 10 / month to $ 34 / month.

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