We hope you enjoy reading our insights about the evolution of email and how
ActiveMail is taking the email experience to the next level. Whether you’re an
everyday email user or a seasoned marketer (or both), we invite you to join the
growing community of Interactive Email pioneers around the world.
If you were old enough to use a computer back in the late 1980s, then you’ll remember the advent of the animated GIFs, a file type that flips through two or more images combined to create basic animation. Although they’re no longer considered as revolutionary as they used to be, they nevertheless enjoyed a very long run as part of marketing efforts, including email campaigns.
Dynamic elements such as animated GIFs allowed email recipients to see more than a flat image to represent a product, deal, or ad. Marketers could apply simple animation to graphical elements inside their email messages and display different product angles, color options, and calls to action. Here are some good examples of GIFs use in emails from a May 2012 blog post by Philip Barnes.
For a long time, animated GIFs were all marketers could use to make their emails interactive. The trend caught the attention of industry analysts as far back as 2010, when Responsys published their animated GIF usage findings, concluding that “the increase in usage likely stemmed from the ability of animated gifs to get subscribers’ attention and therefore boost engagement and clickthroughs.”
“We’ve used them quite a lot with various clients over the years,” said Aaron Smith, Director of Creative Technologies at Smith-Harmon, a Responsys company, “and in tests we’ve done, we’ve seen several percentage points higher on the clickthrough front with the animated versions.”(1)
Similar user behavior was also noted at the time in relation to the budding popularity of emails containing links to rich media. In a 2010 MarketingSherpa article, online marketing firm Click Rain shared their findings regarding newsletters that contained a compelling mix of content. The resounding conclusion was that newsletters that contained a mix of articles, charts, videos and social sharing links generated higher than average open rates. The image of the video was manipulated to look like an actual player, but instead of playing directly in the email client, they link to the video either on YouTube or the team’s blog.
“That single featured video was by far and away the most-clicked element,” said Paul Ten Haken, President, Click Rain. He also noted that “not only does it help clickthrough rate, but it helps overall engagement as well. It’s content that people look forward to receiving.”(2)
Since the invention of the humble GIF, technology has of course evolved and along with it people’s expectations of the standard of email communications from brands they subscribe to. But as revolutionary as animated GIFs were ‘back in the day’, today one could argue that they’re a poor-man’s video, used by email marketers to create a sense of motion inside the emails because that was the only animation technology that was compatible with emails. Until now.
What animated GIFs and allusions to video clips inside emails have demonstrated quite convincingly is that email readers are far more likely to engage with rich media content than they are with static content. The people behind ActiveMail understood this, which is why ActiveMail now enables the ultimate use of rich media inside emails, allowing marketers to create truly interactive, engaging email experiences for their audiences unlike ever before.
And it doesn’t stop at just videos: Flash animations, web games, live product catalogs, surveys, polls, registration forms, social activity and more. Basically, anything you can display on a web page, you can display inside an Interactive Email, powered by ActiveMail. And it’s about time too, considering that the last time someone thought of creating an email-compatible dynamic element was over 20 years ago.
So the question remains: Are you savvy and forward thinking enough to join the growing community of Interactive Email pioneers around the world? Discover the possibilities. Contact ActiveMail to learn more about creating ‘next generation’ interactive email campaigns.
(1) Source: Animated Gif Usage Surging: Implementation Advice and Tactics Discussion by Chad White, Research Director at Smith-Harmon, a Responsys company.
(2) Source: Marketing Sherpa: 2010 Email Award Winner Campaign Updates: Video in emails and new product launches