What Is AMP Email? Everything You Need to Know
If you’ve surfed the web on your phone lately, you’ve probably noticed that some pages — particularly news websites — are different. They load faster, look nicer, and move better than many other pages. And, if you look closely, you’ll notice they have a different web address.
These sites are powered by AMP (accelerated mobile pages), and that same technology is now available for emails!
Actually, it’s been available since 2019, but that doesn’t make AMP for email any less important! It’s still one of the best ways to create interactive emails, and its reach is growing. Even big-name brands — like Booking.com, Indian Express, and Pinterest — are boarding the AMP for email train.
But what is this great invention, and why are so many marketers chatting about it?
What Is AMP for Email?
Let’s start with that first question.
First developed and launched by Google in 2019, AMP for email takes all the perks of AMP technology and tucks them neatly into an email. The result is a faster email message with the power to perform on-page actions. More specifically, users can use AMP emails to browse stores, check carts, make appointments, and take surveys without leaving their inboxes.
In more descriptive terms, an AMP email message allows senders to create dynamic content within a message. Think of it as a little web page in your inbox.
So… AMP Emails are Just Interactive Emails?
From the start, Google’s AMP for email program aimed to bring interactive elements into traditional email marketing. However, that doesn’t mean it has sole custody of the idea. Plenty of people were (and are) making interactive promotional email campaigns without AMP components, and many others are doing the same thing with AMP.
The difference between these closely related campaigns is what’s behind the curtain. If the code has a hidden HTML block that includes “⚡4email” or “amp4email,” it’s what it says on the box. Otherwise, it’s just a complicated HTML email.
How Does Email AMP Work?
If that last sentence sounded technical to you, that’s because it is!
At its core, AMP for email is a coding language built for simplified interactive elements. Truthfully, you won’t be messing with this stuff unless you have some existing coding know-how. But it pays to know about things, and email AMP tech is no exception.
AMP is a special HTML extension that forces a webpage to load a certain way. Rather than loading the content with a cluttered jumble of ads, images, and videos, an AMP page removes unnecessary elements until they’re absolutely needed. Sometimes, it eliminates elements altogether.
For example, a standard desktop news site may have the article alongside a video, multiple advertisements, and various embedded media elements. While this works well on a more powerful computer with a wifi connection, those extra elements bog down phones and limited connections. Removing the excess — namely, the videos and more intensive ads — reduces the page’s load time and boosts performance.
In the context of emails, AMP uses what is known as MIME (multipurpose internet mail extension) to embed and load content within a user’s mail client. Additional extensions can be called upon to create dynamic content, such as forms and interactive image displays.
Which Email Clients Support AMP for Email?
Unfortunately, AMP components are not universally supported. Thanks to its status as a competitor to Apple News and Facebook’s Instant Articles tech, it has a certain niche. Obviously, Google’s Gmail supports AMP.
Additional AMP-enabled clients are:
- Yahoo Mail
Currently, about 16.28% of all email clients support AMP.
What Programs Allow Me to Design AMP Emails?
In spite of that short list of supported clients, plenty of programs support AMP email creation. These services do not guarantee that an AMP email displays properly, but they help users create campaigns without as much fuss.
Some of the editors supporting AMP components in their design are:
- Adobe Campaign Classic
- Amazon product lines
What Can AMP Emails Do?
One of the biggest draws for email marketers is AMP’s ability to display and process real-time information. For example, an AMP-enabled email can show users a map of their product’s current location, whereas a classic email can only display information pulled when the message was sent.
AMP emails also support various interactive elements, which increase engagement and make users more likely to invest in a brand.
AMP emails are a great way to make surveys and forms more engaging. Unlike traditional HTML emails, these embedded elements eliminate the need for a landing page, thus deleting a hefty hurdle in the customer journey.
An AMP form can be as simple as a few independent questions or as complex as a multi-layered process. More advanced examples may use conditional statements to route users through different paths.
Some brands have even used an AMP form to display interactive personality quizzes within the user’s email client!
One of the biggest topics in modern marketing, “gamification,” turns everyday experiences into unique interactions.
Now, this isn’t an easy process. Making games within an email requires highly skilled programmers and inventive email marketers. Nonetheless, these quirky email messages have seen massive success with a variety of brands.
The “spin-to-win” prize wheel is fairly common AMP content. If you’re looking for something more inventive, however, some brands have created interactive email flows that include personality quizzes!
Interactive AMP Elements
For a less conventional spin on email marketing, creative designers have used AMP’s animated displays. AMP accordion collections, carousels, and images engage users and promote more conversions than classic emails.
The AMP Accordion
An accordion segment expands and contracts with a click or tap. This makes it easier for brands to send longer messages without overwhelming the consumer.
Some of the most innovative uses of accordion sections revolve around user choice. FAQs are popularly displayed as accordions; this setup lets users choose which question they need answered.
The AMP Carousel
One of the first eye-catching features of AMP emails was the carousel. Much like its name suggests, this embedded element allows users to scroll through content as if they’re spinning a rotating product display.
Images in an AMP carousel can lead to an individual landing page or an in-email purchase form. Moreover, as one of the many dynamic content elements available to designers, a carousel can be used to compact longer-form content cleverly.
The AMP Lightbox
An AMP lightbox is a fancier way of saying “hover effect.”
If you’ve ever let your mouse sit on top of a link and seen a little pop-up — usually a simple blurb about the destination — you’ve seen a hove effect. However, AMP for email lets you go a little deeper.
Designers can use special code to create entire blocks of text or displays that change in some way when a user hovers over them. For example, the background for a block of text may change from red to blue, or a particularly striking image may shrink when hovered over.
These flashy effects may not provide immediate returns, but they certainly give your content a unique twist! That being said, it’s worth knowing that most hover effects do not work on tablets and touchscreen devices, so your fancy campaign won’t be as flashy on a phone.
“Live” Real-Time Content
One of the most popular uses of AMP content is to provide live updates about the status of an event or shipment. While plenty of third-party providers offer similar features for multiple services, an AMP email has native support for such information.
By removing the extra step, AMP emails make it easier than ever to send truly dynamic emails with content that’s specific to the user. The simplest version of a live AMP email uses a “timeago” tag to display a countdown clock. But that’s not the only thing AMP emails can do! Other popular uses for dynamic mail content include the following:
- Abandoned cart campaigns
- Automated shipment updates
- Individualized purchase suggestions
- Job board postings
- Live stock updates
- Sales funnel campaigns
How to Get Started With AMP Emails
Though the lack of support is a drawback, plenty of designers still prefer to use AMP elements in their campaigns. These additional features give otherwise simple emails a touch of flair and interactivity, which sets them apart from the competition.
However, it’s not as simple as adding code and hitting send. Google controls access to its open-source tech, and they want to make sure it isn’t misused. Avoiding unnecessary and unscrupulous usage of a code is tricky, and Google’s approach is to maintain a database of verified AMP email senders.
Summarily: You have to register and be approved to send AMP emails. This can be done with a universal form, available through various sites, and some additional verification. But you shouldn’t expect to be given the green light overnight.
The Requirements for Registration
If you plan on sending AMP emails anytime soon, you’ll want to start the verification process now. That means making sure you have everything in place, creating a realistic sample campaign, and ensuring your email service provider is up to date.
The requirements are straightforward, but they’re also a multi-step process. To get all your digital ducks in a row before you apply for verification, you’ll need the following:
- A completed application form
- Consistently low spam complaint rates
- A “production quality” AMP email sample
- Up-to-date information and email verification through your email service provider
Be sure to double-check that sample, too! Google is a stickler with its applications, and any bugs or glitches are grounds for denial.
Each application is for one email only. In other words, even if you use the same account with the same email service provider, approval on one account doesn’t mean the other is allowed to send AMP emails.
Senders must also know and comply with client- and region-specific guidelines.
What You Need to Know About AMP for Email
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, though!
There are still plenty of drawbacks to using AMP emails, including the general lack of support.
Including AMP Email Elements Increases Development Time
One of the first drawbacks to AMP emails is the sheer amount of effort it takes to make one. Even a simple poll requires massive behind-the-scenes tweaking to ensure the entire survey flow works.
In addition to creating an AMP email, developers must also make an HTML fallback version, essentially creating two emails to make a single campaign.
You’ll also need to factor in time for testing AMP emails before you send them, as a broken campaign is a poor reflection on any company.
Mobile Devices Have Problems With AMP Code
Mobile browsing is overtaking desktop usage, making AMP emails more tenuous. While they look and feel great on a traditional computer, many phone-based email providers just don’t support AMP emails.
Again, you’re running into the “one-for-the-price-of-two” conundrum. Including everyone in your dynamic email format requires more work, and mobile compatibility usually requires a bunch of additional support.
Even mobile Gmail addresses can fail to load AMP emails.
AMP Emails Have a Limited Lifepsan
Regardless of your coding, an AMP email will inevitably fail.
It’s not your fault, nor is it a problem with your email provider. Rather, it’s just the way AMP emails are set up. All AMP emails — regardless of their content — fail after 30 days from the send date.
Let me be more specific.
If I send out AMP-powered emails email on April 1, their AMP elements will always fail on April 31. All dynamic content fails after that date, regardless of if the recipient has opened the email.
This isn’t necessarily a game-breaker. You can still include essential information in the email body and support the campaign with an HTML version, but you must be aware of this limitation.
A good rule of thumb is to include any critical info (e.g., confirmation data, customer information, order numbers, support ticket information, and unique coupon codes) in the email’s plain text version.
However, none of this makes AMP emails a bad marketing tool! Like most things, email AMP technology requires research and effort to pull off. Relying solely on AMP for email probably won’t win you much customer loyalty, but sending only plain text emails is similarly damaging.
A good email marketer knows how to balance interactive emails with thoughtful text campaigns. This diversity introduces excitement into marketing, as it ensures customers never know what they’ll find in their inboxes!
Get a Rich Inbox Experience for Less
If you don’t have the time to spare to test AMP emails, I get it! Businesses take a lot of work, and AMP marketing is probably low on your list of priorities.
If you’re craving some unique interactive emails that grab your subscribers and never let them go, it’s time to invest in your future. Give me a call! We’ll have a free strategy session, and I’ll see if AMP email campaigns fit you. I’ll also show you how a team of experts — like the ones you’ll find at The Email Marketers — can change your business trajectory.
You can also browse the rest of my blog for more tips and tricks to improve your email marketing.