7 Techniques for Creating More Interactive Emails

Marketers are more challenged than ever before to create content that people will actually take the time to read. Email is just one more thing competing for their attention as technology continues to evolve and enhance the way we communicate with prospects and customers.

Of course, the first step in creating a successful email marketing plan is to ensure your emails are optimized for mobile. More than half of emails are opened on a mobile device and if your message isn't rendering properly, more than 70% of people are likely to delete it in under 3 seconds. Today, mobile-friendly email is simply a baseline necessity. However, what's going to increase time spent in the email, clicks, and the potential for conversions is leveraging various types of interactive content.

While traditional emails typically direct recipients to a landing page on which to carry out a specific action, an interactive email cuts out that step and enables them to take that action from directly within the email. Facilitating a streamlined, interactive experience is not only simpler and more engaging for your reader but also a great way to get better results from your email marketing efforts. So, without further ado, here are 7 techniques you can use to create more interactive emails...

1. GIFs or Memes

Starting off with the basics, we’ve all seen GIFs and memes everywhere—and they’re certainly the simplest way to add some visual interest to emails. Memes are easy to create on your own, as they usually only involve some kind of humorous image with a caption to break up a standard text-based email. Sometimes, a cleverly used meme incorporating a relevant pop culture reference can instantly make a business or a salesperson a lot more likable.

On the other hand, an animated GIF is generally more eye-catching than a static image. GIFs (or a series of GIFs) can allow you to showcase how a product works, hammer home an important message, or even draw attention to a course of action you'd like someone to take from your email. Remember, imagery can be used to quickly, easily and cleanly convey what would take paragraphs to explain!

2. Polls / Surveys

A lot of people enjoy taking a poll or survey every now and then (provided it’s short and sweet) to help their favorite brands make improvements. Polls are an easy way to keep readers invested in your content; for example, you can ask them what topics they'd like to read about next or what kinds of problems they're regularly experiencing in their industry. You can also poll your audience for an opinion and share the aggregated results in a future blog post!

Through surveys, your marketing team can ask how a recipient felt about a particular piece of content, an experience they've had with your brand, or a product they've purchased. Follow-up surveys are definitely an important piece of showing your prospects and customers you care about helping them! To mix it up a little, you can vary the survey style by including clickable emoticons, star ratings, etc. This is a non-invasive way to encourage interaction and gain valuable feedback at the same time.

Interactive Email Techniques: Poll Example with Stars


Interactive Email Techniques: Poll Example with Emoticons

3. Image Sliders

Savvy marketers will always know how to maximize the space they're given. Along these lines, clickable image sliders are a great way to showcase multiple visuals that tell a story without increasing the length of an email. What's especially important is that they compel readers to physically interact with your content by encouraging the user to click and see the next image in your set. When you engage a reader's sense of touch, your message is a lot more powerful and memorable.

What can you do with image sliders, you ask? A few ideas might be to showcase multiple products or product use cases, customer testimonials and significant results, photos from an office party—the possibilities are endless! You can also include a CTA on a slide that prompts readers to book a meeting with your team, request a quote, or complete any other bottom-of-the-funnel action that would be valuable for your business.

4. Accordion Menus

Accordion Menu GIF

Accordion menus help keep emails nice and tidy while the user can choose to click on a line item and have it expand or contract. No one really likes scrolling through lengthy bodies of text, but if you need to relay a lot of important information, an accordion provides a much better (and more organized) user experience.

That said, accordion menus can also be used in fun, creative ways. Use an accordion to introduce members of a new customer's account team, or to answer FAQs. Plus, you can even gain valuable insights with respect to which content is resonating with readers by seeing which menu items are clicked on the most.

5. Collapsible Image Carousels

Collapsible image carousels combine the streamlined design of an accordion menu with the functionality of an image slider. Once the reader clicks on an area they'd like to view, it drops down and then they can scroll through the various images. This allows the option to display or promote numerous images while still keeping the email succinct and professional.  

6. Countdown Timers

Animated countdown timers can be useful for those companies that are promoting a limited time offer or an upcoming event. These attention grabbing elements often foster a sense of urgency or fear of missing out, which can often lead to an increase in registrations, subscriptions, sales, etc. So why not give one a try?

Countingdownto is one of the tools you can use to embed a countdown on your website or in your email.

7. Social Media Sharing Icons

Try embedding a Facebook, Instagram or Twitter feed to promote engagement. If your contact is interested in your brand, they will likely accept the invitation to like your pages. People seldom seek out B2B brands on social media, so why not make it easy for them? You could even give them an incentive to share your content on their pages. 

To get started using these great tools in your emails, you can use HTML or CSS properties, or there are also companies out there that have tools you can use. While all of these are great options, be aware that not all email clients support them. While 70% of email service providers support interactive tools, you should always use a fallback – a static image to replace the animation if it isn’t supported. So get out there and start testing these tools to see what resonates with your audience!

Have any other suggestions? We'd love to hear from you in the comments below.

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Lori Dickey | Marketing Specialist
About the Author
Lori Dickey, Marketing Specialist

Lori Dickey has been a Marketing Specialist and Project Manager for PMG since 2010. When she’s not figuring out a way to put a new spin on an old concept, she’s writing about marketing numbers, figures and facts – and sighing with relief when the writing is done and the reading has begun!