Just a few weeks ago, the AMP team announced that AMP was coming to email.
Today, I have everything you need to know about the AMP/email integration – from how and why it started to how you can harness its power for your brand.
The Evolution of AMP
AMP started as a way to make it easier for publishers to make pages that load extremely faster – a big benefit, especially in the mobile world.
And it did just that. Using AMP, websites load 4x faster.
It didn’t take long for publisher’s to catch on to the trend. As of now, 31 million domains are serving over 5 billion AMP pages today – more than 3x what those numbers were a year ago.
Due to its popularity and efficiency, AMP has expanded. Now it does more than just load articles fast. It can build carousels in mobile results, accept user input through AMP-based forms, build custom interactions, direct ads to AMP landing pages, and bring a brand’s story to life with AMP Stories.
And of course, all of these new capabilities come with AMP’s signature speed.
Naturally, the next step in the AMP evolution is to extend to one of the world’s most popular communication channels – Email.
Why AMP For Email?
Despite the growing popularity of newer communication channels like social media channels, email continues to dominate the field.
Email is expected to reach 90.9% of those online by 2019.
Right now, 270 billion emails are sent every day, and is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter.
Not to mention, it’s how your customers want to be reached – studies show that 72% of people prefer to receive promotional content through email marketing, compared to just 17% who prefer social media.
And if customers like it, it only makes sense to try and improve their experience.
Email messaging has remained relatively the same over the years. They’re built in HTML, meaning content is static, usually with a link included to a more interactive landing page.
But that can all change with the introduction of AMP for email. Using it, customers can complete tasks typically reserved for websites right in their email.
Benefits of AMP for Email
AMP for email could be a game-changer, and promises to “make email more engaging, relevant, and actionable.”
Google outlines the following possibilities, which we’ll cover throughout:
- Design interactive components for email using a large library of supported AMP components like amp-carousel, amp-form, amp-bind, amp-list and more
- Help your content stay up-to-date and interactive for your users.
- Create more engaging and actionable email experiences
Perhaps the biggest benefit is that AMP allows users to quickly take action right through the email, without having to visit a separate landing page.
Tasks such as submitting an RSVP, filling out a form, or scheduling an appointment can be done in the email itself, as well as browsing interactive catalogs, swiping through listings, and saving them for later.
Additionally, all information contained in the email can be kept up-to-date with AMP. Traditionally, email has a pretty short shelf life. Take a morning news round up, for example. If a user clicks on that email later in the evening, some of that information will likely already be old news.
But using AMP for email, that information will always be kept up-to-date because it uses dynamic content.
Another big benefit is its ease of use. While there are other ways to add interactivity to emails through CSS and HTML, AMP technology can generally get it done much faster.
AMP could also prove beneficial in the conversion process. Generally speaking, requiring fewer clicks results in more conversions. Because AMP has the ability to add in real time processing details and form submissions, it represents a valuable opportunity for ecommerce companies.
How AMP For Email Works
Pre-AMP, email consisted of two parts: the plain text version and the HTML version.
AMP adds a third part to the equation: the AMP version.
What that means is that when you send an email, the AMP version will appear through email clients that support AMP, and use the HTML or plain text version for any clients that don’t support AMP.
The AMP version won’t affect the HTML or plain text versions of the email.
AMP for email will support most of the AMP components already used for AMP pages, including:
- amp-bind & amp-state
AMP for Email Examples
At the unveiling of the AMP for email feature at the AMP Conference 2018, the AMP team announced that they had partnered with three clients to test out the email feature.
Here’s an overview of how those brands are using AMP to enhance their emails.
Doodle, a company that specializes in simplifying the process of scheduling, used the AMP format to schedule a meeting, sending out a list of various times for each participant to choose from.
The format allows participants to reply and submit their form directly through the email. And
because AMP uses dynamic content, every time a participant clicks or refreshes the email, they’ll be able to see how many people have responded at that given time.
Additionally, once enough people had submitted their response, the form in the email automatically updates to allow the poll creator to select the final option.
Without AMP, the email could not have included dynamic content or the form submission, and all activity would have to be done at a different location.
The next example is from Booking.com, a well-known website for hotel and flight bookings that called AMP the “biggest thing that’s happened to email since email.”
They used the feature to send out their routine booking emails to potential customers. In the email, users can click through different hotel rooms using AMP’s carousel feature, doing the browsing they would normally do on the website directly through the email.
And again, using dynamic content allows Booking.com to update price and availability of each space in real time.
Additionally, they used AMP emails to collect customer feedback and update their preferences. Customers are now able to select and update their email type and timing preferences through a dropdown in the email.
And lastly, Pinterest (who needs no introduction), showed off how they had successfully used AMP for email.
Most often, Pinterest uses email to send personalized email recommendations to its users. And while these could provide the look of Pinterest, it lacked the interactive experience. Attempting to add that website-like experience was not easy or consistent.
Enter AMP. Using it, a user can tap on an individual pin to expand it and find more information. They can save Pins to separate boards, submit forms, and receive confirmation that their Pin has been added to the correct place – all in one email.
The takeaway from these examples? Using AMP for email allows brands to bring the website experience to their emails. It cuts down on the work typically associated with these kinds of features, and adds a level of convenience for the user.
The Case Against AMP For Email
Everything you’ve heard so far stands largely in favor of using AMP for email.
But that doesn’t mean AMP comes without its potential drawbacks.
Some argue that AMP blurs the line too much between emails and websites: “something like email is designed and overwhelmingly used to say things, while websites and apps are overwhelmingly designed and used to interact with things…It’s fundamentally useful to have a divide here.”
Because emails are designed to be static and mimic traditional mail, adding AMP and website capabilities may take away from what email fundamentally is and always has been, ultimately altering it for the worse.
After all, is it really that much of a hassle to open a new tab leading to a fully-equipped and interactive website?
They also make the case that AMP in email is just another way for Google to control and insert itself into most aspects of the web experience, and that its motives are less than pure and not quite so user-focused.
Another possible drawback AMP could have is the loss of website traffic. AMP emails are essentially designed to eliminate the need to click through to a site, but many brands may feel the loss of those clicks.
It also remains unclear how dynamic emails will change general drip email process.
For example, when someone completes an order on a website they usually receive a series of emails from the brand: confirmation, shipping details and status, arrival time, etc.
With dynamic emails, that information can update automatically, eliminating the need for multiple emails. But what happens if a customer deletes their original email? It’s possible that the user would then miss out on some vital information.
While these issues remain unclear for now, it’s safe to assume they’ll be addressed as AMP rolls out to more publishers and email clients.
How to Get Started With AMP for Email
As of now, AMP for email is only available to developers who request access, but Google plans to roll it out to Gmail later this year.
They’re hoping that since its an open spec, other email clients will adopt AMP as well.
Developers who do request to download the spec will need to meet the following requirements:
- Supports modern phishing and spam mitigation strategies
- Supports preserving privacy expectations of modern email providers
The email spec then involves adding a MIME part “text-x-amphtml” to your email that contains AMP HTML markup.
This differs slightly from the traditional AMP spec because it lacks a <link rel=canonical> element. AMP email does not have a canonical email.
If you’d like to sign up for the Developer Preview of AMP for Email to build and test your own emails, submit your information to Google here.
Concluding AMP For Email
There’s still a lot we don’t know about AMP for email. For example, are all actions taken on email as trackable as those taken on a website? Will publishers have access to analytics that tells them who interacted with their emails?
Beyond that, it’s unclear whether there will be an option for users to disable AMP in favor of regular, HTML emails.
It will certainly be interesting to see how AMP for email unfolds, and how both brands and users take to the new format. After all – this could be the feature that changes email as we know it
Remember, if you want to be among the first to use AMP for email, sign up for the Preview to start AMPlifying your emails today.