New interactive elements are coming to the mainstream, and they're worth paying attention to because they can amp up email engagement and click-thru rates. What you do with these elements is up to the imagination.

In the classic communication loop, one person talks. The other listens and then responds, and the loop repeats. Email interactivity is similar. We make a request, the computer processes it and responds, for example, by sending us to a new web page, or using a complex algorithm to understand a search request and match it with the best information. The interactivity we’re discussing here is much simpler, and the tech is available to everyone.

So, what can you do with interactivity?

Let’s start with the lowly underappreciated animated gif. Use it to signal the content you consider most important, like a call to action button. Use it to cycle multiple images to compact information to improve the user experience, especially on mobile.

Other devices, like click down boxes, hide text until the user clicks on it. So, instead of sending your prospects to far-flung websites to fill out a form, have them do it within an email.

As we like to say, less scrolling and more clicking. Plus, it’s fun.

Here’s the rub. Most of these features run on the top email clients, for example, iOS mail, Gmail, Outlook, Chrome, and Mozilla’s Thunderbird, but earlier versions of the same program may not.

The best coping advice we have is:

  • Make sure your developer does cross-browser testing
  • Use a platform like Litmus to view what your email will look like on various platforms
  • Create a graceful fallback solution for browsers that don’t support your interactive elements.

Overall, we look at interactivity as a way to drive email ROI, differentiate your emails from the competition, and have some fun. We hope to start pushing your animated buttons soon.