CSA Digital Email Summit 2020

The Future of Email is Dynamic


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The Future of Email is Dynamic

Jon Harmer – Lead Product Manager, AMP Email, Google; Ryth Martin – CEO and Founder, Skipify

More than 293B emails are sent each day and are the center of many consumer and enterprise workflows. Until recently, the content within these messages was static and required users to leave the inbox to take action. With email providers like Gmail, Apple, Outlook, and Yahoo! now supporting dynamic email frameworks, the landscape has really changed. Access to dynamic emails has reached critical mass and brands are seeing conversion rates nearly double through dynamic email. Two experts from Gmail and Skipify explained how brands are eliminating the complexity of launching dynamic, shoppable emails in a webinar as part of the CSA digital Summit in Fall 2020.

Jon Harmer is Product Lead for AMP for Email at Google, the protocol that provides real-time updates and interactivity into dynamic emails and is used by providers like Gmail, Yahoo Mail, mail.ru and soon aol.com. Ryth Martin is CEO and Founder of Skipify, an AI-Powered payments company that automates the creation of dynamic messages and extends purchasing into the inbox for the first time.

In 2018, Google launched AMP for Email, which allows users to use various AMP elements in emails sent from popular clients and ESPs. AMP was introduced by Google in 2015 and allows websites to load much faster on mobile devices. In 2018, AMP was expanded to support email as well. Without ever leaving their inbox, users can dynamically interact with content in AMP emails, like filling out and submitting forms, signing up for events, browsing webshops and even completing purchases.

Truly interactive emails

While emails have been personalised and individualised based on web behaviour for quite a number of years already, they weren’t actually interactive. Once sent, the content stays static and no action can be taken without changing to another app or programme. Although it is such a key communication medium, it lacks the interactivity users have come to expect elsewhere. This is the true innovation of AMP for Email. AMP for Email makes email dynamic. Actions can be carried out within the email without having to change to a browser or another app. This makes emails truly interactive and the content can be updated in real-time.

Not only CSA Senders can register to use AMP. Anyone can join the programme. Yahoo Mail, mail.ru, AOL and other mail clients are currently adopting AMP and enabling interactive emails.
AMP is relatively new, so not all mail providers use it yet. Microsoft and Apple are not currently supporting AMP so any AMP emails send to their users will fall back to the HMTL version. It is really important that senders make sure to include both the AMP version and an HTML version as a fallback. Once such major providers adopt AMP and real-time inventory-based protocols, AMP to likely become quickly widely used. Its growth in just the last year has been exponential.

Senders need to register with amp.dev/ in order to use AMP in their emails. They must meet specific guidelines, send an AMP-enabled production-ready email with a successful HTML fallback and fill out the registration form for each sending address: go.amp.dev/learn-email.

Examples of current applications of AMP

Within an AMP email, users can e.g. pin a site within an email from Pinterest without having to open a new tab and log in to Pinterest. They can complete surveys and questionnaires within an email; something that has been successfully trialled by LendingTree. An Italian financial service provider, findomestic, enabled users to calculate loan rates within the AMP email which resulted in an 133% higher click-through rate.

Even travel bookings can be carried out within an email with travel recommendations. For the Indian travel company Oyo, this feature led to an increase of 57% click-through rate and 60% higher conversion rate.

Jon highlighted what he called ‘productivity use-cases’, e.g. allowing people complete a few initial steps of work flow within an email. One example is how the automatic notifications from Google Docs that a user receives when someone comments on a shared document allow you to reply to comments without opening a new tab in your browser – and seeing any other new comments that have come in in the meantime. Users can also assign sharing and permission rights to a document within the email. A collaborative knowledge solution, Guru, allows users to complete actions like verifications and replying to comments within emails. This has led to a 2.5-times increase in card comments and a 75% increase in card verifications by email. A CRM and project management solution called Copper also allows email recipients to respond with comments and emojis to messages within the email, which led to a 50% increase in reactions to the emails.

Google’s focus is on creating a better user experience for its users, but customers’ interactions with an AMP email can still be tracked in the same manner; e.g. the open and click rates. Anything that is currently possible for HTML emails will also still work in AMP emails.

Frictionless e-commerce

A further application of AMP for Email, is the app that Skipify has developed. It turns marketing emails into shoppable emails – without the senders needing to do any coding on their side. They call it frictionless e-commerce. Senders can send their HTML email template within their own products to Skipify and Skipify will help turn it into an interactive email which allows consumers to shop within the email. An AMP email allows users to complete the whole purchase process within the email; including life inventory updates.

Open questions from the webinar

  • What are the conditions to be approved ?This is documented here – https://amp.dev/documentation/guides-and-tutorials/start/email_sender_distribution/
  • Which email Clients Support AMP mails currently?Gmail (Web, Android, iOS), Yahoo Mail (web), ru (web, mobile coming soon), aol.com (coming soon)
  • Do you know how many gmail users have “show amp” option enabled?We don’t share specific metrics like this publicly, but as you would expect, the vast majority of our users have it enabled, as it is turned on by default.
  • With your pricing model, does that mean there’s no cost for a lead gen company like Lending Tree who doesn’t drive to purchase?There is no cost to anyone for using AMP for Email, generally. Your ESP likely has some paid aspect to it, but that is unrelated to the capability being supported in email clients. Shoppable Emails with Skipify are free to generate. Skipify charges a small fee for purchases completed through the Shoppable Email.
  • Can you measure view time in email?AMP for Email does not provide any new analytics capabilities. Work with your ESP on analytics.
  • Are reasons given for it not being approved? Should it fail the AMP verification?Usually, you will receive a reason for rejection.  From what i’ve seen, most of the time it is because the email doesn’t properly render.  In that case, it is frequently due to the message missing the AMP part (often because their ESP didn’t support AMP and removed that code) or because of errors in the AMP, such as trying to use unsupported code.
  • Where does the product catalogue load from? A product feed? If so, can we use the same product feed that we use for something like google shopping?Yes, your standard product feed can be passed to Skipify and used to help generate Shoppable Emails with Skipify.
  • Do consumers need to set up an account on Skipify to purchase a product?The process is seamless for the shopper. Purchasing a product through a Shoppable Email simultaneously creates a Skipify account. Also, shoppers with existing Skipify accounts can purchase inside your Shoppable Emails even if they’ve never purchased with your brand before.
  • What about Mailchimp?Mailchimp does not yet support AMP for Email.  Feel free to reach out to them to express your support for them enabling it. That will help them prioritize that work – many ESPs are just waiting for customer demand. It’s possible for you to continue to use Mailchimp and use Skipify to send an AMP-based version of your email. Skipify will be expanding outside of the US soon.
  • GDPR: So which of these involved parties / companies (Skipify) are actually EU-based and will establish a data processing agreement with us? Or do we have to do such a solution with EU standard contract clauses (which may follow safe harbour and privacy shield)? Please reach out to the team at Skipify.com/email to reserve your spot in their International Beta in the coming months. They are actively recruiting candidates for this program.
  • 200 permutations of products + graphics.  Are those assets downloaded “as needed” (e.g. via AJAX)?  Or are these very large emails?The AMP part of the email is limited to 200k. Skipify dynamically generates all these options without additional effort from the merchant.