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Understanding Interactive Emails: What, Why, and How?

Rida Ali Khan

An email without an interactive element is like a cheesecake without blueberry sauce - it serves the purpose, but where’s the charm!?

If you wish to add something extra in your email that will entice your audience to take action, interactive email elements are what you’re looking for. 

As research states, 81% of content marketers say that interactive content helps them grab their subscribers’ attention.  Impressive, right? 

I’m sure a hundred questions have crawled your head about why and how interactive emails are so attractive. So, stop scratching your head because this article will answer all your questions about interactive emails. Let’s dig in; 

What Are Interactive Emails? 

A subscriber engaging with an email

Interactive emails consist of functional elements that allow readers to engage within the email content by clicking, tapping, or scratching. These features can be in the form of questionnaires, surveys, rating charts, etc.

Before you start designing an interactive email, you must know what major factors trigger the readers to respond to them. 

What Factors Make People Interact More? 

Email marketers have benefitted from the understanding of human behavior for ages. When you know what encourages people to interact with you, you'll be able to design the perfect interactive email. 

You can see some of these aspects below:

3 factors that make people interact more
  • Curiosity:

You must have heard people say, “curiosity kills the cat” - well, not in this case.

People by nature are curious, and they love to know more. If you build a little suspense in your email, it will make the reader more interested in responding to it. 

You can do this by using scratch-to-win vouchers, a treasure hunt game, or a flip-to-win voucher. 

  • Fun Elements: 

Who doesn’t love a little fun? 

People love to engage with an email that has fun elements embedded into it. Some popular examples include CSS buttons or gamification within the email. 

The best part about adding fun elements is that it does not provide a one-time advantage because people will develop the idea that your emails are lively and interactive. Hence, increasing the likelihood of them reading and engaging with your emails. 

  • Sense of Urgency: 

Nothing triggers people more than a sense of urgency.

If you design an email with no urgency factor, it will give your recipient enough time to ponder over the pros and cons of taking action and decrease their chances of responding to it. 

By creating a sense of urgency, you make the reader rush into reacting and responding. You can do this by adding countdown timers right above a call-to-action button for example. 

Why Are Interactive Emails Important?

Now that you know the factors that make people interact more, it is time to learn the importance and benefits of creating interactive emails. 

Interactive emails;

Increase Email Engagement: 

Email marketers desire engagement just like the way a person with diabetes craves chocolate cake. 

People prefer participating in a conversation rather than simply reading or listening to it, and interactive emails give them a chance to do so. By drafting an interactive email, you increase the chances of users’ engagement as they click, scroll, or type within its content.

Increased engagement with subscribers builds strong relationships with new customers and nourishes it with the existing ones. 

Boost Conversion Rates:

Hasn’t this been your ultimate goal the whole time? 

Even though open or click-through rates bring benefits, but conversion rates have always been the real deal. 

Designing an interactive email builds up the reader’s interest and subconsciously motivates them to take action,  such as landing on the website or making a purchase. This means that engagement through interactive emails leads to increased conversion rates, resulting in more sales, increased user data, and better relations with customers. 

Too much to bag, right? 

Have A Competitive Edge:

Who doesn’t love a little competition, especially when you have reasons to be the best? 

It’s always a good idea to give your best shot, and creating an interactive email gives you a chance to do so. By designing a good email, you offer quality content and also encourage participation. 

It doesn’t matter if your competitors have started doing so or not; what matters is that you design the best you can. 

Interactive emails give you an edge over simple HTML and plain text emails

Reinforce Brand Identity: 

A little endorsement harms no one. 

Your brand identity must always stay your integral focus while designing an email because this is what people remember the most. 

If you add a fun element in your email that goes with your brand, it creates a pleasant association. For instance, if your brand is fun and quirky, then interactive features will reinforce this identity. Such email compliments your brand while being fun and interactive. 

Here is an example of CSS animation of football in an email sent from a football club.  

Interactive emails reinforce brand identity

How Can Interactive Emails Be Used?

Apart from promoting engagement and attracting readers, interactive emails have multiple other uses as well. Let’s have a look at these;

  • To Solve Problems: 

One of the most beneficial uses of interactive emails is the ability to solve problems. That can be done in the form of embedded survey forms, reviews, or tutorial videos. 

Apart from solving user problems, these features also provide you with necessary feedback and inform you about what needs to be changed, improvised, or added to your services. 

  • To Stand Out:

People are getting busier - they mostly skim through messages and only respond to important ones. 

Adding a unique feature or fun element in your email will make readers pause and say, “now that’s something different!” Encouraging them to engage with the content of your interactive email - hence, hitting two birds with one stone.

Interactive emails stand out from the email clutter
  • To Segment Your Recipients:

One useful benefit of designing an interactive email is to gather your recipient’s data and information by embedding quizzes or questionnaires in them. 

This data allows you to segment your audience later on. You can also personalize the contents of future emails according to your recipient’s likes and dislikes. E.g., only women getting messages for Mother’s Day promotional emails and men for Father’s Day. 

With the collected information and a good click-through rate it looks like a win-win situation, doesn’t it? 

  • Introduce A New Product: 

It’s always good to create a little hype before introducing something new. This is exactly what an interactive email offers you. 

You can add features like ‘scratch to reveal a new product’ or ‘win the game to discover something new.’  These little games will excite the readers and help you promote a new product, store, or feature

The ideal way of introducing a product

What are the Elements of Interactive Emails?

In a survey conducted by Campaign Monitor, around 82% of participants prefer responding to interactive emails rather than static ones. So let’s look at some of the features/elements that have gained much popularity amongst users. 

1. Questionnaires/Polls or Surveys:

One of the quickest ways to collect a receiver’s data is by incorporating a survey form or questionnaire within the email. 

Adding a survey or poll will help you identify the recipient’s areas of interest and demographics. This will further enable you to draft the contents for future emails according to your subscribers’ interests and likes. Moreover, you can get valuable feedback from your customer’s by adding questionnaires and survey form in the emails. 

Here’s an email from 23 and me asking their customers to fill out a questionnaire that might help them improve their services. 

Example of surveys being used in emails

2. CSS Animated Buttons:

CSS Buttons are animations specially designed to attract an audience and emphasize your message or email. 

If you add CSS animated buttons in your email, it will instantly grab the reader’s attention and coax them to take preferred action or respond to the email. Hence, these animated buttons help in increasing conversion rates along with being pretty presentable. Now, that’s a plus. 

Check out this cool email from Magic Spoon that shows a vibrant CSS animated button. 

Examples of animated buttons being used in emails

3. Reviews and Ratings:

Allowing your clients to rate your product or service has a couple of benefits. 

One, it increases their chances of interaction, and second, you get their honest reviews and reasons to improve your product. 

Just make sure that your email itself has the rating scale, and it does not lead to another landing page for reviews because additional steps decrease the chances of customer’s responding well. 

You can see one such example from Booking.com’s email. 

Example of reviews being used in emails

4. Videos:

Videos are a one-stop solution. 

They promote the brand better, increase click-through rates, and help in improving customer retention. According to Hubspot, 87 % of video marketers have claimed that videos increase traffic to their website, while 80% have reported saying that videos have increased the rate of sales. 

People relate to visuals better than written blogs or ads; this is why videos embedded in emails have increased engagement and traffic. 

Here’s an email from Later that shows how interactive and helpful it is to add a video in an email. 

Example of video in emails

5. Games: 

Adding games to your email is the coolest thing you can do as an email marketer.

Like we mentioned before, adding a fun element to your email will build a good rapport with your subscribers, and they will love to receive your emails and engage with them. 

Games that reveal a discount voucher or a new product create a sense of curiosity, excitement, and anticipation - all at once! So it’s a sure shot that adding games to your email will not let them leave the screen without engaging. 

How amusing is this email from Email On Acid where they added an exciting game within their email. 

Example of gamification in emails

6. Scratch or Flip: 

Why send a boring email when you can send an interactive one? 

Add a little fun element to your emails by incorporating scratch-to-win coupons or discounts. Additionally, they can also reveal new products by flipping sides of a coin, for instance.  This is just a little activity that will keep the reader interested.

Take a look at Gwynnie Bee’s exciting email design that gives readers a discount voucher on scratching. 

Email example where you can scratch to reveal discounts

7. Image Carousels:

If you wish to show your readers multiple products at once, then image carousels are what you’re looking for. 

By clicking left and right, your subscribers can learn more about the provided images or products. This increases their interactivity within the email and also allows you to display multiple products at once. 

P.S. Unlayer's new image carousel feature allows customers to play with their creativity and exhibit multiple products within a limited space. 

You can see an image carousel feature embedded in HP's email below. 

Example of carousel in email

8. Menus/Accordions: 

Adding menus or accordions to emails increases engagement to a great extent.  

You can use accordions in emails to display multiple things in a limited space as clothing websites do. 

One of the best things about using a menu or accordion is that marketers can record and track the areas that drew maximum attention and use this information for future emails.

Look, how Nordstorm conveniently adds menus in their emails.

Example of menu in emails

9. Image Rollovers: 

It is one of the coolest interactive features as it allows you to display products from multiple dimensions.

I’m sure when you have to show a clothing line or a car within your email, you would want your readers to see multiple sides of them, wouldn’t you? 

When the reader looks at the product from all sides, they get more familiar and confident with it. Hence, increasing their chances of purchasing. 

Here's how image rollovers display multiple sides to a product within an email.

Examples of image rollovers in emails

Some Interactive Email Mistakes To Avoid: 

Mistakes to avoid when designing interactive emails

Just a little heads up - interactive emails might not always perform well!

Now that you’ve learned everything about creating the best interactive email, its elements, and its uses, here are a few things you must avoid when designing an interactive email. 

Don’t Use More Than One Interactive Element.

You must have heard the phrase “less is more.” Well, that’s true! Interactive elements are very enticing and engaging, but if you start adding multiple elements in one email, they might overwhelm the user, and chances are they might stop engaging mid-way. 

Avoid Repeating Non Engaging Elements.

It’s never too late to undo a mistake. So when you send out interactive emails, make sure you keep tabs on its performance and avoid using the same features in the future if it fails to get good engagement. 

Don’t Resist Experimenting.

New things excite people, and that’s exactly what you want your email to do. So don’t stop yourself from experimenting with new interactive features to get your recipient’s attention.

Conclusion: 

Interactive elements differentiate exciting emails from average ones. 

After all, it increases retention, click-through rates, and conversion rates simultaneously. 

Designing interactive emails might take more effort, but Unlayer will save you from all that hustle. With its easy-to-use drag and drop editor and multiple interactive features, fun and attractive emails are a few clicks away. 

So let’s get started! What’s stopping you from becoming the Micheal Jackson of email marketing? 

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