This month, Google announced a revolutionary step forward in email marketing. They are bringing their Accelerated Mobile Pages Project (AMP) to email. With the announcement, they released examples of AMP emails created by several of their preferred partners and general documentation. There are still many questions on this new form of email, but we have gathered information on what is known and what we would like to know before this new type of email is rolled out later this year.
What is AMP for Email?
Google launched AMP in 2015 to improve the mobile web experience. Basically, it is a simplified lightweight webpage that loads quickly on mobile devices. AMP for email brings the lightweight interactive AMP code to Google’s Gmail platform.
Google released the video above on AMP for email explaining its uses and their goals to modernize email. The main takeaways are Google is trying to reduce friction for simple tasks by allowing the user to RSVP, fill out a form or browse a gallery without needing to click to a landing page. They created AMP for email open-spec with the hope others will integrate it into their platforms to push the “email ecosystem” forward.
How Can Marketers Use it?
The AMP for email documentation has the code sectioned into three main sections. Those sections are media, presentation and dynamic content.
The dynamic content is what Google focused on during the announcement, showing how people can fill out a form or answer a question directly in an email.
Doodle created a stunning example of how users can answer a survey directly in one of their emails. Getting users to take surveys can be a tricky task. Allowing them to quickly respond in an email may lead to more participation.
Booking.com created an email showing off the new website carousels, allowing a hotel to show off multiple images without increasing the length of the email.
To utilize AMP, marketers will now need to design and code three versions of an email. This includes AMP code for Gmail users, HTML for the majority of other email users and plain text. This is an extra step that will take time to execute and may not be cost-effective for smaller email lists. Current email statistics show that currently 26% of emails(1) are opened in Gmail or the Gmail app. For a list of 1,000, only 260 recipients would have the possibility of seeing the AMP version.
Practical Ecommerce reviewed the different transactional uses of AMP for email and pointed out a potential flaw. “If recipients do not realize the email will be dynamically updated, they could delete it and thus miss subsequent vital information.” We currently have no way of tracking when or if a customer deletes an email. If they delete, “AMP-delivered transactional emails, such as order confirmations and shipping statuses, presume that the recipient does not delete the original version.” (2)
Our Burning Questions
Email marketing enhancements have been moving at a much slower pace than other fields. Only recently has more user-focused interactions, such as rollovers and animations started being integrated into the majority of email platforms. This new proposed code is a huge step for email marketing. We have several questions about how it works and what this means for the future. As more information is released, we will update this post with answers received.
- What email clients support AMP now? Who is working on integrating it?
Currently, we know it will be released in Gmail later in 2018. No others have committed to adding it to their platform at this time.
- Does this cause any legal issues? Email is currently used as a record in legal cases. AMP for Email can be dynamic and content changed after a person has received and read the email. AMP for email is designed for marketing and transactional emails, not personal, but this could still be an issue.
- How are interactions tracked? Currently, marketers are able to track clicks and interactions through different sending software. Will AMP for email allow more elaborate tracking?
Overall there has a been a split reaction to this announcement. Some of the most vocal feedback providers have been very negative. TechCrunch has concerns about changing the fundamentals of email. “Email is designed and overwhelmingly used to say things, while websites and apps are overwhelmingly designed and used to interact with things.” Others are concerned this is a step by Google to try and take over email by forcing others to utilize their code. (3)
We are excited to see AMP for email in action. We feel there will be many uses for it in the coming years. Once the community has had a chance to really work with it, many great user experiences will be created. User experience design is all about reducing the friction and making a task as easy as possible for the user. Eliminating the need for a landing page for simple tasks will allow for a better customer interaction. Customers that have a great experience are more likely to interact with the brand again and become a brand advocate, recommending your business to their friends and family.
However, if other platforms do not pick up AMP for email, we will be selective on what emails and clients we recommend it for. Since only Gmail users will see this new code, the ROI on coding a separate email just for Gmail may not be cost effective for most cases. Outlook has committed to improving the email experience by partnering with Litmus and the email community, but they may not be willing to work with Google on this.
Marketers will also need to be smart on when it is important to send the user to their website. While reducing friction is important. Sending them to your website is also important for some companies.
Let us know what you think about the update or ask how this could apply to you in the comments.