Email has been a marketing staple since Gary Thuerk (dubbed the “father of spam”) sent the first mass email via Arpanet in 1978. And while tactics have certainly changed since then, email marketing itself has remained an essential tool in most digital marketers’ toolboxes.

Today, we’re seeing marketers redefine email marketing in interesting ways, especially with interactive emails. And while this has yet to become mainstream, there are plenty of reasons why it might just be the email marketing of the future.

What is interactive email marketing?

It’s all in the name: interactive email marketing moves past the static emails that are currently the norm and introduces interactive elements.

These elements could be simple moving images in the header of the email, or they could be more elaborate, like allowing the users to click into the email and watch an animation happen as a result. Here is an example of an interactive email for the coffee brand Pret. You can click on one of the flavours at the bottom of the email and watch the cup fill up with your choice.

The key component is that all of the interactivity happens right within the email itself, not after the users click onto a landing page or other destination.

Why is interactive email marketing effective?

The number one reason why interactive emails are so effective is that the can greatly increase engagement. Email marketing is notorious for low open and engagement rates, so anything you can do to give those a boost is going to make a difference.

Producing interactive emails may be more costly and time-intensive, but they will set you apart from the competition. Your audiences’ inboxes are flooded with marketing messages every day, and you want yours to stand out.

Tip for your own interactive email marketing campaign

  • Make sure your emails also make sense to the viewer if the interactive element doesn’t work for some reason. Some browsers or devices may not be compatible with the technology you’re using, and you don’t want to alienate these users so create a static version of your email, too.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment! This is still a relatively new field, so let your team’s creative juices flow when coming up with new content. Consider incorporating a live shopping cart, virtual scratch cards and promos, or funky GIFs – it’s all possible with a little technical know-how.
  • Always consider your user when designing interactive emails. What information do they want to see? What is the best way to present it to them? Adding interactivity just for the sake of doing something new will never be as effective as using it as a method of increasing the value your audience gets from the email itself.
  • Just like regular email marketing, try to A/B test your interactive email campaigns whenever possible. You can learn a lot about what works and what doesn’t by simply tweaking one or tow elements and testing them against various audience segments.