When Google first announced its AMP release for email (back in Jan 2018), they invited a few companies into their sandbox to try it out. DynamicMail was one such company able to play around and see what they had to offer. In order to understand their product, I thought it best to first step back and define Dynamic Content.
What is dynamic content?
I always explain dynamic content as a two-sided coin; Real-time content and kinetic elements (think telekinesis – movement). They can be used together, but each stands alone as well. Real-time is the ability to change the message after sending out the email. Email used to be a fax. What we sent our users was exactly what they received. When real-time content was introduced, it allowed brands to send a placeholder graphic populated with the relevant content and correct contextual information (time, weather, device or location) upon opening, now AMP is allowing you to go deeper. For example – If you’re working on a Google Doc and have a conversation going in a comment thread, when you leave the google doc you always get email notifications if changes were made on your doc. Now you’ll find it much easier to know your whereabouts, as it will display the latest comment, regardless of when the email was sent. Developers are also given the ability to connect to their platforms as well.
The second part of dynamic content is the ability for elements to move in the email. This is so much more than animated GIFs, but rather reveals, carousels or pop-ups. Until now, only iOS allowed for kinetic elements. Gmail is now giving capability for these type of features in the email with AMP.
How does one email have multiple experiences in different email clients?
Until now, it was done using placeholders. DynamicMail identifies the user’s email client and then presents the best content to that user. For example – our video code has three assets – a full video, an animated GIF and a static image. In iOS, the user is sent full video to watch in the email (controls and sound!). For Outlook old desktops, the user would only get a single image – Outlook allowing animated GIFs made my year. Everyone else would get a seven-second animated GIF. Each user receiving the optimal experience for their environment.
Curious how AMP works?
Let’s get into the details. AMP is a technology Google created for mobile experiences. Accelerated Mobile Pages has been around since 2015. What Google did was use that technology to build up the email experience. Currently, when you build an email, you usually build two emails, HTML and plain text (Most ESPs create a plain text for you). With AMP you would now have to build a third type, coded differently, and the email client will determine which email version to show the user on the open. If the user is in Gmail, the AMP version would be displayed.
Something I have been asked a few times recently, that I think it is important to clarify, is that no, AMP does not provide dynamic elements. It is a technology that allows you to build and display dynamic elements. You will need to find a developer or tool that can build this for you, implement the new email template and then add it to your ESP.
Forms in email
Another fun element now in AMP – forms in email. DynamicMail has been creating forms in email for years even in Gmail – thanks to our HTML gurus who filled in the remaining gaps – but with limited support. AMP will allow more developers to easily create forms and connect their websites to the email. For example, Pinterest developed the ability to allow users to pin new items to their board directly from the email. I imagine they’re using form technology to get this done. Doodle is doing the same thing to RSVP to events.
What does it mean to marketers?
By releasing AMP, Google is bringing users into the next level of email experience! This is now available on desktop and soon will be available on mobile. Bigger brands already using AMP for their mobile sites have the resources to build this new type of email. The need will be for smaller brands to find the resources for AMP versions of their emails.
DynamicMail has had requests to build AMP email versions by a few of our larger clients, but not many. The requests are just not there yet, but maybe this will change things. I believe this is not something smaller clients want to spend money on right now, but maybe this will change.
My intention wasn’t to write another article explaining the state of the email, why it is not dying, and how it still has the largest ROI. We already know this. While other platforms are seeing growth, it still pales in comparison to what email does for brands. It’s exciting to see where the future of email is going, with Gmail taking this step. Honestly, over a year ago, I wasn’t sure this was going to stick, but with the promise of wider adoption by Outlook and Yahoo!, this might actually be here to stay. Now we need to figure out how to make it more accessible to all brands.