In 1905, several years before my birth, a member of my family published a series of papers that would transform the way we see the universe. His first research offered radical insights into the particle nature of light, which would later become one of the foundations of modern physics. He also published his theory of special relativity in the summer of that same year, and his famous equation E=MC2.
In all of these papers, he challenged established orthodoxy and proposed ideas that directly contradicted the universally held knowledge of the time. His theories weren’t immediately embraced, but would later completely transform the fields of theoretical physics and astronomy.
In 2022, nearly twelve decades later, we are experiencing another ‘annus mirabilis’ (year of miracles) of sorts which is subverting longstanding paradigms and ushering in a new age of innovation and enlightenment. This transformation isn’t happening in the realm of physics perse but within the email inbox itself. In fact, I believe that everything we have come to know about the nature of the email inbox is changing before our eyes and that it won’t be terribly long before we look back on the ‘static inbox’ of today as a relic of the past.
What forces are driving this change?
Senders today have the power to engineer rich, engaging, interactive experiences that bring modern app functionality directly into the email inbox. Email recipients can now book appointments, search for flights, browse merchandise, make reservations, submit ratings and reviews, engage in chats, and play games within the email itself - without clicking through. These types of experiences, powered by Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) for Email, are delivering a significant lift in core KPIs for marketers who have begun testing them, and they are - albeit slowly - changing the face of email as we know it.
Instead of sending recipients to destinations on the web or in-app, marketers can now bring those highly relevant and valuable experiences directly to users, which removes friction and drives exponentially higher engagement. At Netcore Cloud, we often see upwards of a 7x to 10x lift in conversion metrics for AMP-enabled emails, which for some senders, represents a significant lift in overall program KPIs. Senders across the globe who have not yet begun to experiment with AMP for Email are starting to take note of these successes and are, for good reason, increasingly pursuing strategies and technologies to incorporate it into their programs.
What is AMP for Email?
AMP for Email messages are sent as a separate MIME part in addition to the HTML and plain text MIME parts of a campaign and offers standards-based interactivity and real-time content. It was first introduced by Google in 2019 and embraced by Yahoo! in 2020. Microsoft experimented with a developer preview of the format but discontinued the program in the fall of 2020. Senders who wish to send an AMP powered messages must:
- Be working with an email service provider that supports AMP for Email
- Register with Yahoo! and Google, and be sending from servers with valid SPF/DKIM/DMARC
- Include an AMP version of their message in addition to their usual .html and/or text messages
I recently presented on a panel hosted by the Email Sender Policy Coalition, highlighting that AMP for Email has gotten off to a slow start. Data from their spring survey indicated that of the top 32 email service providers, 28% support it while 72% still do not - and fewer than 5% of all senders routinely send an AMP version of their messages. Of those vendors that do support sending AMP for Email, only a small percentage offer specialized services, strategy, training, and templates to truly support marketers who wish to test sending interactive messages. As more vendors do get on the bandwagon and begin really enabling their customers to experiment, the groundswell around interactive email will continue to build.
Why is AMP for Email just gaining momentum now?
Change happens slowly in the email marketing universe and AMP for email represents a major shift for most marketers. In some cases senders need to migrate to a new solution that supports the MIME type, and in all cases, they need to adjust their established process and workflows to allocate additional resources towards strategy and development. Vendors are starting to support senders with the technology and know-how to help them execute AMP enabled campaigns, which is welcome news for those who are beginning to realize the possibilities, but the format still faces headwinds in the form of Apple and the Apple Mail client.
Google and Yahoo! both support AMP for Email; Apple does not. In many emerging markets in Asia and beyond, where Apple has less of a foothold, their failure to support the standard doesn’t have a major impact on senders, but in North America, it does.
Gmail and Yahoo! represent upwards of 60% of most B2C email marketer’s lists in North America, and users on android phones, those who read their mail in the Google and/or Yahoo! Apps on their iPhones, and users of the Yahoo! And Google web clients, can all experience the wonder of AMP-enabled interactive email. Users of the Apple Mail client on either an iPhone or a Mac desktop or laptop computer, are not able to view them, and instead, get served the ‘fallback’ html version of the email creative. Due to the popularity of the Apple Mail client in North America - nearly 40% of all opens happen in Apple Mail - a majority of recipients of any AMP enabled email campaign will be served the ‘fallback.’ Apple’s failure to embrace the standard is a major reason why AMP for Email is just now gaining momentum.
What’s Next for AMP for Email?
Even though the Apple headwinds blow strong, forward-thinking marketers are beginning to realize real business benefits from the technology and looking beyond the static inbox of today, towards a much more interactive future. Most B2C senders in the US can expect to reach between 30% and 50% of their email audience with AMP-enabled messages today, and the experiences they deliver to this segment of their list can drive as much as a 10x lift in conversions while literally transforming the inbox as we know it. As some marketers have begun to realize the business benefits, many more have been learning about the possibilities and awareness is at an all-time high.
This year at Netcore Cloud has been miraculous. We have been running AMP for email campaigns for brands across business verticals and completely shifting the paradigm of their programs. From simple use cases like zero-party data capture, ratings, and reviews, to more immersive search and shopping experiences, the possibilities for AMP-enabled email are as limitless as the universe itself.
Though many have been slow to embrace AMP for Email, this Einstein believes it is the single most exciting development we’ve seen in the channel since html, and the future is bright for interactive email powered by AMP.
About the Author
Nick is Vice President of Product Marketing at Netcore Cloud where he develops, owns, and executes go-to-market strategies. He evaluates new growth opportunities for the Netcore roadmap, presents thought leadership at industry events, and leads cross-functional teams for product launches and market announcements. Before joining Netcore, he was a product marketing leader at Cheetah Digital, and served for five years as Chief Research Officer and Principal Analyst at The Relevancy Group. Nick cut his teeth in the email channel as head of email marketing at RealNetworks over fifteen years ago. Nick earned his BA from Kenyon College, MBA from The University of Washington, and lives in the Seattle area with his wife and three children.