I don’t have to tell you that marketing technology is always changing, you experience that every day. As an email marketer you live and breathe browsing behaviors, purchasing decisions, and re-targeting decisions based on new sets of data. Your email program has probably evolved over the years adapting to shifts trends. Consumers now use an array of devices used to check email and to maximize your reach you’ve worked to integrate all your marketing data to deliver the perfect content, at the perfect time to your subscribers.
Recently there have been some changes that will not only impact the content that can be sent subscribers, but also how those subscribers interact with your messages. Two topics that signal this shift is the growing adoption of AMP for email at the mailbox provider level and text-to-voice software like the new “Play My Email” function for Outlook. Both are markers of what is possible with email creatives and how email fits into a subscriber’s everyday life.
AMP or an Accelerated Mobile Page was developed to combat slow-loading mobile web pages and was not originally for email. The weight of all the assets and resources that go into a single web page can be too much to render quickly. AMP allows content to load faster, be more engaging, and easier for the end user to consume content. Now enter AMP for email, carrying the same mantle as it’s AMP for web predecessor. It is tempting to dive into the nitty-gritty of AMP for email, instead let’s take a high-level overview of this new technology and how it can make a subscriber seamlessly move through the sales funnel of interest, decision, and action. To illustrate this a little better, I will use a fictional travel company as an example.
Envision you get an email from this travel company that has a call out for a destination you have been wanting to visit. After seeing a highly desirable resort at an affordable price, you click on the call to action and are taken to the travel company’s site. You look at pictures, view local activities, peruse the accommodations, and then decide that this option is not for you and you want to review others. You then go back to your email, scroll through, click a different link, and start the evaluation process all over again. This constant back and forth between email and browser could create fatigue. You may stop browsing and potentially begin looking for a new way to book your vacation.
This whole process is creating friction between two stages of the sales funnel, interest and decision. If a subscriber must take unnecessary time to explore all their options before making a decision, they can just as easily choose to make no decision at all. This leaves both the subscriber and sender somewhat dissatisfied with the email experience. With AMP for email though, all that investigation can be done in the subscriber’s inbox with a few simple clicks. They can view photos of the resorts and discover other information in an efficient fashion right from their inbox. AMP for email also has form submission elements that can cut out part of the purchase or action stage of the sales funnel. In the earlier example, if you decided to book that vacation you can select the dates, room accommodations, and other options right from the email and essentially use the travel website as the credit card processor. This example of AMP for email blends almost all stages of the sales funnel into a faster and more engaging interaction, rather than using the email as a launching point for a subscriber to interact with the brand.
Microsoft recently announced a function known as “Play My Email” and this is in line with other text-to-voice features that have been appearing recently. Devices like Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Nest are gaining popularity in many households and it a matter of time before they’ll be reading a subscriber’s email aloud as a normal part of their day.
What does this mean for email marketers though? Subscribers will be even more distracted while checking their mail than before. Surveys have shown that most people check their email using an additional piece of technology. Now subscribers can have and email read to them while they are cooking dinner, folding laundry, or any other task that may be near to these text-to-voice devices. With these additional distractions, it is now more important that the content of an email is of high value to the subscriber. The content sent to subscribers will need to be specific to their immediate needs and wants for them to find the email in their inbox later and take further action. Using other technologies like dynamic content not only achieves the goal of having the content be of high value to the subscriber, but also can streamline the email development process by not having to create new email creative for each subscriber segment.
This also means that it will take longer for subscribers to consume the information in an email if it is read to them rather than skimming through an email visually. Usually if a sender can have a subscriber spend more than 8 seconds looking at an opened message that means they have successfully grabbed the subscriber’s attention. With the text-to-voice devices, much of that time may be spent having the friendly from and subject line read out loud to the subscriber. If the main content is buried down in the email past pre-header, navigation, or other content, the subscriber can just as easily skip that message and move on to the next item in their inbox. There have been great innovations that revolve around the visual aesthetics of email and how it can catch subscriber attention, but now is the time to focus on the optimization of the written content in your emails. It is important to ensure your written content is conversational, relevant, and informative from the first word or instance of alt text to have the voice-to-text software that is reading the email convey the value you are presenting to the subscriber.
The progression of all technology has one main goal, to make any task no matter how big or small more effortless for all people. Advancements like AMP for email and text-to-voice software options are appearing to make one of the most used channels of communication streamlined and more accessible to all email users. One nugget of email marketing wisdom that I like to keep top of mind is all senders are being compared to the best sender in their subscriber’s inbox, whether they are direct competitors or not. Being ready for these changes in customer experience and information consumption will help ensure your brand is what all others get compared to, not the other way around.