braze amp

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Gareth Worsnup, Manager, Solutions Consulting, Braze & Toby Coulthard, Senior Manager, Solutions Consulting, Braze.

Since the first iPhone went on sale back in 2007, we’ve seen an explosion of new devices (e.g. smartphones, tablets, connected TVs, smart speakers, etc.), new digital platforms (e.g. OTT messaging and media platforms), and messaging channels (e.g. push notifications, in-app messages, web push, Content Cards, etc.) that have significantly expanded the number of ways that consumers can engage with brands—and brands with consumers.

While this new world has taken shape, the original direct-to-consumer digital messaging channel—email—hasn’t seen any step change as a medium since HTML emails became ascendent over text emails more than 20 years ago.

Although the technical side of things has remained largely unchanged, big things have been afoot in the email space. The way that consumer experience messages sent in this channel has seen a seismic shift since the rise of the smartphone, with mobile constituting about half of all emails opens today, up from under 10% during the first half of 2013. This shift arguably makes email not just a key mobile messaging channel, but also a dominant one: About 90% of US internet users are email users, and email is the most common digital activity in the US.

With email establishing itself as a major marketing tool in this increasingly mobile-first landscape, it’s not surprising that we’re beginning to see the rise of potentially transformative technical innovation in this channel. With the recent introduction of AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) for Email, marketers are beginning to push the boundaries of what was traditionally possible with email, enriching the channel with seamless, interactive in-message experiences.

AMP for Email: What It Makes Possible

While Google initially launched Accelerated Mobile Pages to help support richer, faster-loading website experiences on mobile, over the past two years the company has turned its attention to bringing AMP to the email space. The Google-backed open-source AMP for Email framework is designed to make it possible to make email experiences more interactive by transforming messages from fundamentally static in nature to dynamic units that function almost like little web applications inside of the inbox.

A message supported by AMP for email

What a dynamic message supported by AMP for Email can look like

Email marketing has been heavily influenced by the channel’s lack of runtime execution capabilities—an inheritance from earlier technologies that defined the Web 1.0 era. And while plenty of brands have worked wonders with static emails, marketers looking to include intelligent or dynamic components in their marketing emails have often had to scramble to make it happen. From leveraging scripts that run server-side at send-time or at open-time (by changing asset sources referred to by a static email), these approaches require the ad hoc creation of special scripts and rules, increasing complexity…and the chances that something could go awry.

AMP for Email, on the other hand, provides brands with a single, standard toolbox to create dynamic, interactive emails. Messages built using AMP components make it possible to:

  • Support Personalization at Email-Open: Because AMP emails are capable of pulling in new data or assets after they’re already sent, it’s possible to personalize messages based on a given recipient’s preferences or behavior up to the moment that they open the email…and beyond!
  • Include Interactive Forms and Questionnaires: Instead of requiring your users to click on a link that triggers a web browser or app open before they can respond to a survey or fill out a sign-up form, AMP for Email allows them to engage right within the message itself, providing an easier, frictionless experience.
  • Add Clickable Multi-Image Carousels to Emails: AMP for Email takes a page from Push Stories, making it possible to highlight multiple products, services, and more in a single carousel that recipients can browse through at their own convenience.
  • Allow Live-Updating Outreach: Sending a delivery update email? With AMP for Email, you can continuously update that message in real time from the moment the recipient’s food leaves the oven to the instant it arrives at their home, giving them up-the-minute information without sending a barrage of outreach.

Taken together, this collection of real-time, interactive capabilities makes it possible for brands to consistently, scalably serve up more relevant and up-to-date customer experiences via email while simultaneously reshaping what tomorrow’s inbox looks like. 

The Personalized Experience Tipping Point: Why This Is AMP for Email’s Moment

Blast messaging has a long history in the marketing space, from generic push notification campaigns to good old fashioned junk mail. But as consumers come to expect the sorts of targeted, personalized experiences that savvy brands are now able to offer, it’s become increasingly clear that yesterday’s tricks just don’t cut it in the customer engagement landscape.

This changing consumer sentiment isn’t just widespread—it’s ubiquitous. According to MarTech Advisor, 90% of consumers are annoyed by marketing that isn’t relevant to them as individuals, which means that brands who send outreach that isn’t targeted and personalized are running the risk of damaging customer relationships. For brands that are already getting it right, the benefits are growing. Research from Braze has found that personalized messages drove a 23x stronger impact on purchases this April, compared to the month before, suggesting that the benefits of adjusting messages to fit each individual recipient may have become even more important in today’s fast-changing world.

In a world where timeliness and relevance is key, AMP for Email might just be an email marketer’s secret weapon. By unlocking true interactivity within email and allowing the messages that email marketers send to automatically update to stay current, AMP for Email is making it possible for brands to consistently serve up great experiences to their customers in new and innovative ways. Here’s what that can look like:

babylon using AMP for email

Braze customer Babylon Health saw a 20% rise in customers completing their health checks after the company introduced highly interactive messages powered by AMP for Email. These messages, which saw a 56% greater clickthrough rate compared to the basic HTML version, brought the company’s interactive health visualization experience straight to the inbox, demonstrating that the added interactivity was enough to prompt a significant chunk of their users to find out more.

AMP for Email: Key Marketing Considerations

With the introduction of AMP for Email, the landscape has changed dramatically, giving marketers an opportunity to reconsider their options and potentially reinvent their strategy. At its core, AMP for Email is intended to bring richer, more interactive experiences to the email inbox, making it easier and more efficient for marketers to build out dynamic experiences within the emails they send.

AMP for email

What that looks like can be greatly influenced by your brand’s vertical, audience, base, or value proposition. If you’re a clothing retailer, for instance, being able to more effectively showcase visuals of the products you sell is a positive thing for you and your customers alike. With AMP for Email, it’s possible to deliver a richer, image-focused email experience by adding in interactive galleries, hotspots, accordions, lightboxes, or click-to-expand actions.

flash and thread

Alternately, if your brand’s engagement strategy is built around encouraging your customers to submit information (think surveys, forms, polls, or reviews), you might consider embedding these surveys/forms/etc. directly into your AMP-enabled emails, rather than forcing recipients to tab a CTA button, driving them outside the inbox to a landing page, or in-app experience just to fill something out. Using AMP for Email removes the need for unnecessary hosting, DNS, and other general URL parameters related to security considerations. It also makes for a more seamless, frictionless experience by removing an extraneous click, jump, and page load.

surveys/forms embedded into AMP

Additionally, for brands that have important use cases which depend on the ability to effectively communicate insights related to highly volatile data (think gaming/betting, live events, or finance brands) marketers can use AMP for Email to pull this information into the emails you send. You’ll be able to have that information live update as it comes in— every single time the message in question is opened. You can even give recipients a clear CTA to reveal the data contained in the email in real time.

mcgregor & sons release

But while AMP for Email significantly expands what’s possible when it comes to driving interactivity within marketing emails, it’s not a panacea—and it’s also not something that can happen with the click of a button. Some potential roadblocks for brands looking to take advantage of AMP for Email in their marketing efforts include:

  • It Requires Fluency in a New Coding Language: AMP for Email is based around a completely new language—a la HTML—that brands need to learn in order to leverage these capabilities and the lack of AMP for Email-enabled drag and drop block editors means that non-technical marketers have to turn to engineers to build these emails. 
  • Your Authentication House Needs to Be in Order: Security and authentication are important for AMP for Email, so before you can use it, you need to ensure that your brand has its Sender Policy Framework (SPF), Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM), and  Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC) set up correctly, among other preparations.
  • Not All Email Clients Support It Yet: Right now, email client support for AMP for Email only covers Gmail, Outlook, and; given these limitations, it’s smart to do some research on your emailable customer base and see if the number of people you can reach currently with AMP emails warrants the effort that goes into building them.

While AMP for Email is a major step forward when it comes to email marketing, keep in mind that these new capabilities are most impactful when used to complement the experiences you’re offering up in these platforms, rather than trying to compete with them. It’s an email, not a website—and as cool as these AMP-enabled emails are, they still can’t do everything that a website can. But if it’s possible for marketers to optimize customer interactions by offering a more convenient way to take action, why deny consumers that experience?

Final Thoughts

AMP for Email represents a major step forward for email as a medium, one that will only continue to grow and garner support from leading email marketing and customer engagement platforms. As consumers begin seeing more of these messages in their inboxes, expect to see an increased desire for interactive, seamless in-email experiences that translates into growing acceptance for AMP for Email among marketers.

At Braze, we’re proud to be one of the first email marketing/customer engagement platforms to support AMP for Email. In addition to the AMP for Email capabilities we currently support—and that customers like Slice and Babylon Health are leveraging—we’re also actively looking at the evolution of AMP functionality in order to ensure that it plays a key part of our product roadmap for email throughout this year and next.

Interested in learning even more about AMP for Email? Check out our recorded session on the subject with Pattrick Kettner, Developer Advocate at Google, at last year’s LTR conference.