What’s Next: Google Enables Dynamic Email with AMP

with Chandana Zott and Valerie Decker

For some time, email has been among the most ROI-positive marketing channels for both B2B and B2C merchants. Now, it has the potential to get even better. Google announced their AMP for email project in 2018 and officially launched it publicly in March of this year.

With dynamic, interactive emails becoming a reality, AMP email breathes new life into a communications channel that has remained largely unchanged for the last two decades. This is a major development for both B2B and B2C marketers. For that reason, we strongly recommend that every brand marketer take a long look at this emerging technology and figure out how to strategically implement AMP emails into their overall marketing mix.

What is AMP email?

Accelerated Mobile Pages, aka AMP, launched in 2015 as a way to deliver faster, optimized mobile-first user experiences. Originally used to deliver news and other long-form content to mobile devices, AMP morphed to encompass a wide array of content types. The AMP for email project is an offshoot of the original AMP project.

Briefly, AMP email consists of HTML and Javascript protocols served through AMP caches controlled by Google that ensure AMP compliance and speed of delivery. The result are emails that load almost instantly and can be interactive and dynamic in terms of personalization and content presentation.

AMP for email Marketers

When it comes to using parts of the AMP Project by Google for email, there are a handful of email service providers (ESPs) that support AMP in HTML email:

Google-supported email clients*

  • Gmail
  • Yahoo! Mail
  • group

*It’s worth noting that Apple mail does not support the AMP email framework at this time.

Supported ESPs

  • SparkPost
  • SendGrid
  • AWS SES & Amazon Pinpoint

To get started there are a few steps you will need to complete to ensure you are successful with your AMP HTML email sends.

  1. You will first need to make sure that you meet all the guidelines and requirements Google requires that your company register in order to send Dynamic emails.
  2. Send a production ready email from your servers including the dynamic email MIME part. The AMP version of the message is embedded into the email as a new MIME part, in addition to the HTML and plaintext – this will allow for compatibility across supported mail clients. Google has created AMP developer documentation in addition to an Email Playground where you can develop, test, and send yourself AMP emails.
  3. * It should be noted that Google can reject your registration if you do not send an email for review, if you send a blank email, or if you send an email that doesn’t contain the AMP MIME part.

  4. When you are ready to start sending dynamic email to your recipients, you must register with Google. The registration process can take some time due to the influx of brands signing up.

AMP for email creates an easier way for your subscribers to interact with your brand. Imagine never leaving your email to complete a checkout through an abandoned cart email. AMP for emails offers great options for businesses looking to increase ROI and drive business growth. Your subscribers can browse through image carousels or catalogs, RSVP to an event, complete a checkout, and fill out a form right in their inbox, increasing engagement and time spent with your emails.

While AMP for email brings greater functionality to email there are some issues to note:

  • ESP and other tools do not support AMP: Currently, AMP for email is limited to Google-supported email clients which would be fine if a large part of your lists are using these clients, but if not you may need to create a fallback or non-AMP version of your email
  • Tracking may be limited: Currently marketers are able to track opens, clicks and more to track engagement on your email campaigns. When adding in actions that are not trackable with AMP emails, there will be limited insight into improving campaigns or how your subscribers are engaging with your emails.
  • It can be confusing: since this is still a new feature, there will be a learning curve for end users (customers). With the Dynamic Content feature for AMP emails, email recipients who return to the same email may be served different content, which could cause confusion or frustration. Upfront communication with your customers will be crucial to avoid losing their trust.
  • It can be time consuming: your email developers will have to learn new protocols for email creation, and the registration process has exclusive prerequisites that need to be met.

As when implementing any new functionality to your customers, testing will be essential to be successful in the long-term. And remember, what works for others may not work for you and your customers, and every function within AMP for emails might not be necessary to meet your brand and customer needs.

Enabling AMP Emails with Gorilla Assemble

So, how can brands take advantage of AMP Emails without starting from scratch? Fortunately, Gorilla clients can take advantage of our Assemble framework – a proprietary platform-neutral UI toolkit built on Atomic design principles – to hit the ground running and transform their email channel.

Because it’s platform-neutral, Assemble is already enabled to support AMP emails, leveraging already established UI patterns. The established Assemble workflow can be easily adapted to automate the AMP Email creation process, ensuring high-quality rapidly-deployed email templates. With the templates in place, it simply becomes a matter of injecting the desired content and executing the email campaign. Assemble also utilizes the Mustache templating language to enable the dynamic and interactive elements that make AMP Emails such a monumental step forward.

An added benefit of Assemble being a platform-neutral framework is the ability to reuse brand-centric patterns across channels. So the same UI elements that are created for a brand’s ecommerce or digital experience (regardless of what platform those sites are built on) can be ported to the brand’s AMP Emails. This ensures continuity and consistency in the end user’s overall brand experience.

AMP Email: Motives and Musings

As noted above, AMP email opens a lot of exciting opportunities for marketers, leading to potentially better experiences for consumers and business users. Within AMP emails, users will be able to schedule appointments, answer survey questions, request additional content, and even make purchases, all without ever leaving the email. I repeat: without ever leaving the email. Knowing that, it’s easy to see why AMP email opens a lot of exciting opportunities for Google as well.

Google must find ways to keep users engaged and using their products. In the very lucrative area of product search, Google has been getting hammered by Amazon. Depending on the source, it’s been reported that more product searches now begin on Amazon than Google. The AMP email framework, coupled with a given brand’s email, enables Google (and the merchant) to “front-run” the Internet. By allowing users to perform actions without interacting with the broader world wide web, it has the potential to keep the email recipient away from Amazon and other competitors.

Side note: This opens a second front in the battle to disrupt traditional browser-based ecommerce. Voice became the first attempt to funnel users away from the web, with Amazon’s 2014 launch of the Echo. And while voice commerce is still nascent and limited to edge cases currently, Amazon has a commanding lead over Google Home and other smart speaker products in terms of market penetration.

The lifeblood of Google’s business is advertising, and the fuel for their advertising engine is data. AMP email opens up a potential treasure trove of new data for Google to collect, parse, and monetize. Every user action and interaction taken within an email, rather than a merchant’s website, will now be visible to and collected by Google. This could quickly add up to billions of new, commerce-centric data points. And because Google has made AMP email open-source, they’ll be able to collect data beyond Gmail, across most major email clients, e.g. Outlook. This is a major coup for Google and is something Amazon has no ability to counter at present.

AMP email marks a large step forward for user engagement and its impact should be wide-reaching, as long as Google is able to establish and maintain user trust. Early adopters have the potential to gain competitive advantage, at least temporarily, while the rest of their industry peers play catch up. The question is: who will be the first-movers?