One of the first big accomplishments of the email industry was proving to the world that it could compete with and beat the performance of direct postal mailings. Over the last few decades, email has grown from a business-based communication tool into a digital communication medium of choice for almost all consumers, across all demographics. In that time, email has evolved from a static, text-only channel into an interactive and highly-intelligent marketing machine.
This news may come as unsurprising to some, but historically email marketers have been limited to including basic HTML and static imagery within messages. Email subscribers have been conditioned to expect flat, non-responsive designs that mimic website-type features, but lack the interactive properties and capabilities of an actual website. Even though advances in HTML helped the digital world as a whole become more interactive, the relationship between email developers and email clients did not see any large improvements until the last few years.
The Birth of Kinetic Email
Kinetic email came into being around 2010, but the first showings of kinetic enhancements to an email template hit the mainstream in 2014. Using Oracle’s Marketing Cloud solution, European retailer B&Q sent a fully-interactive email to its subscribers, making a huge splash with email developers everywhere. B&Q managed to show the world that using a combination of HTML and CSS to enable interactivity within email was possible – and beautifully responsive to the email opener!
B&Q Email Results
- 18% increase in responder-to-open rates with 32% increase among club members.
- 42,000 click throughs to the website.
- 30% decrease in time spent on email.
Download the Oracle Marketing Cloud case study here.
Using kinetic email design, B&Q was able to improve performance of different campaign metrics, such as open rates and duration of open within the email. Increased open rates with decreased time in email show how interactive display encourages subscriber interaction quickly, removing time spent scrolling through the email searching for relevant content. While some marketers prefer that users open and read emails for longer durations, it’s not always a win-win. We’ll talk more about those details in the rest of this blog series.
Isn’t Kinetic Email just “Interactive” or “Dynamic” Email?
As a general descriptor, the term “interactive” doesn’t do a good enough job of defining a kinetic email approach. Many marketers consider adding an email recipient’s name to an email subject line as interactive; kinetic goes considerably farther. While kinetic email is interactive, it’s more than just using a video or animated image within an email. Video and GIFs can be labeled “interactive” or “dynamic”, but kinetic email design goes beyond – controlling template-level design elements with CSS3 and HTML5. Kinetic email design also falls back responsively to the opener’s email client’s functionality, degrading seamlessly for email client’s with stricter HTML acceptance.
Justin Khoo, the Founder of FreshInbox.com, also believes that kinetic email is a much different approach to email versus the generic “interactive” label. On the Fresh Inbox blog, Justin explains how the kinetic approach varies by the type of interaction coded into the email and how the template responds within email clients. He believes that there are three types of kinetic HTML applications to an email – “kinetic,” “kinetic interactive,” and “kinetic effects.” All of which require only HTML5 and CSS3 to function properly.
Check out his kinetic email examples here.
Want to learn more about Kinetic Email?
In this 5-part series, we hope to help the email marketing community better define kinetic email, when it is best to use kinetic approaches, where it fits in the context of other email content tactics, and ultimately how it will affect the email landscape. Each post will include examples, links, and research from other email industry participants in an attempt to broaden the visibility of kinetic email design throughout the digital marketing world. Keep an eye out for more posts!