Get AMPed: Why Marketers Should Embrace AMP in Email
As an industry, we’ve had some time to process since Google announced that they would be bringing AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) to Gmail. For some bloggers, this development is being treated as a harbinger of a digital apocalypse where night has become day and nothing means anything anymore. For others, it’s a power grab by a potentially nefarious tech giant. There are some that are cautiously optimistic, but skeptical of scalability. Then there are folks like me, who are pretty excited. Though we’re out there, seem to be largely keeping our opinions to ourselves.
Well no more. I love the potential of AMP in email as much as I love the idea of evolving the inbox experience. I think this is a great step forward for the industry and I don’t care who knows. Judge me for it if you must but hear me out. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy and I’m not saying that Google is solely motivated by a desire to enhance the user experience. What I want to focus on in this post is how much better this can make email for subscribers, and in turn, for marketers.
Before we dig in, let’s consider the digital audience at large. There is a broad range of sophistication and comfort with new technology, but as a whole, the consumer is becoming increasingly savvy. The digital world continues to expand, forcing the adoption of technology and interfaces that at first were disconcerting to some. In addition, the market is in a continual learning loop where we are constantly exposed to new interfaces and being trained to adapt.
Two years ago, my mom wanted help downloading an app. Now she compiles her shopping lists on Alexa, uses Google sheets for book club, and most recently, texted me a GIF of Steve Harvey laughing. Life comes at you fast.
Now let’s get into why AMP for Gmail could be the email marketer’s Field of Dreams. It should be pretty apparent that if you build it, I am already totally here for it, but I also think the engaged audience (and ROI) will come.
Curation Leads to Exploration
As we’ve seen in the last few years, email marketers have increasingly focused on content marketing, curation, and clever merchandising to inspire engagement. AMP in email will allow marketers blow the roof off their current approach.
Through AMP’s interactive email functionality, marketers can create a well-merchandised browsing and shopping experience in a curated environment. Marketers and designers will be able to get creative and explore new ways to make an impression and draw subscribers into immersive email experiences.
Currently, subscribers transition from a carefully crafted email to a busy e-commerce page where themes and merchandising stories are quickly lost in the mix (as shown in the Joss & Main email below).
Rather than jumping to the website, adjusting filters, and trying to recreate some of the magic they experienced in the inbox, subscribers can dive straight in when the inspiration hits. We also don’t have to worry as much about them getting lost, overwhelmed, and annoyed. Sure the lines between email and websites will blur, but that’s not a bad thing, in my opinion. Any way that you’re able to connect with your audience and draw them in is a win, especially if it ends in a sale.
What’s more, this in-email shopping experience can smooth the transition from browsing to shopping by removing the psychological barrier associated with a clickthrough to the website. The less commitment we require at the onset, the better.
Targeted Shopping Experiences Are Within Reach
As a medium, email is conducive to advanced segmentation and targeting. In addition to curated content, AMP in email can facilitate enhanced personalization through the inclusion of relevant products, offers, and information. Adding geo-targeting to the mix can make interactive emails even more effective and provide a marketing mix that resonates more immediately.
By allowing for browse and conversion behavior within the email itself, subscribers can have a fully targeted experience from start to finish. Targeting doesn’t get lost in the transition to the site and subscribers can remain within a relevant message as they explore their options.
The Kid & Coe email above features warm weather, kid friendly locations. After clicking through one of the images to the website, the other featured properties are nowhere to be found.
Finding them requires a click back into the email or filtering and navigation bar exploration to seek them out. By allowing subscribers to explore additional options and book within the email, Kid & Coe could reduce friction in the booking process and get browsers more invested in the content.
Consumer Convenience Is Realized
Convenience is touted as one of the biggest benefits of AMP in email. Rather than redirecting to a landing page or a crowded website, users can complete an action within the email. Much of the focus has been on simple tasks like calendar appointments, tracking, and confirmations, but the increased level of convenience can have big benefits for B2C marketers.
Consider the mobile experience for a moment. Retailers in particular have seen increases in mobile conversion rates but the browsing experience is still relatively clunky. While browsing and filtering items can slow things down on a desktop, it can be be especially aggravating for consumers on a smaller device. While trust in mobile purchasing may still factor in, the browsing and shopping experience on mobile has a long way to go before it’s easy and rewarding for shoppers.
As marketers begin combining interactivity, product curation, and targeting, they can more readily prove value and help subscribers down the purchasing path before dragging them into a crowded, often overwhelming website experience.
In addition, the enhanced interactivity and heightened potential for dynamic images can help ensure that images only display if inventory is available. Marketers can also update content once offers have expired or sales have ended.
Emails Can Actually Be Fun
So far, I’ve covered some of the more practical aspects of AMP in email, but the element of fun and creativity are also exciting. As AMP is adopted, we are going to see some incredible designs and applications of the interactive features. Marketers and designers are going to have a low stakes, high visibility, easily testable medium to experiment with and there are some really innovative emails in our future.
One use case that I anticipate making a splash early on is the “choose your own adventure” email. By leveraging AMP in email, marketers can create interactive quizzes or decision trees that allow subscribers to create their own meaningful experiences. While this might be very involved and too complex for an everyday email, this kind of content could knock it out of the park as part of an onboarding series. Not only would it draw subscribers in and establish value from the start, the selections that users make could help inform future targeting and personalization.
I’m looking forward to what the brains in marketing and design come up with to stretch the limits of AMP.
Customization Is Easier … for Subscribers
On a slightly less exciting note for the average marketer, AMP in email will also improve the opt-out and opt-down process. As an email strategist with a healthy fixation on deliverability, this functionality is one that I hope will be widely adopted. By making it easier for subscribers to exit the program or adjust their preferences, marketers can help mitigate subscribers’ complaints.
In addition, subscribers may be more likely to volunteer preferences if the process is simple and accessible. They may also be willing to provide preferences and information that helps further refine the curation and personalization that these emails are able to achieve.
As we move into a more consumer-centric future of marketing, brand building, and product development, I hope that email marketers dive in and help evolve the channel, through AMP or whatever comes next.
As a Senior Email Strategist with Return Path, Casey specializes in driving increased engagement and boosting deliverability. Casey has a healthy fixation with helping marketers realize the potential of their email programs by addressing human needs, building better relationships, and ultimately driving improved results for the business. Her nine years of experience and obsession with evolving the email space helped land her a spot on ExpertSender’s list of “25 Email Geeks to Help You Get Your Geek On.”