Pushing the boundaries with interactive email

As email marketers vie for attention in an increasingly crowded digital space, innovation is key to boosting engagement and creating memorable brand experiences. For the longest time, email has been perceived as the channel that innovation forgot - data-driven strategy, targeting and personalisation get more complex, but the emails that land in the inbox remain much the same.

No longer - as much as 70% of your recipients are likely to be using email clients that support some degree of interactivity, opening a world of possibilities. 

So, what CAN WE DO?

A good question. A better question would be - what do you want to do? Interactive email provides the functionality for users to take an action in an email that triggers an event within the same email. This is achieved by using form elements and CSS properties in ways that, frankly, they were never intended to be used. As such, there are no 'standard' behaviours for us to leverage. Rather a toolbox of tricks and hacks that, combined with a problem-solving approach, enable us to create website-like functionality in the inbox, including:

  • Showing and hiding content
  • Hover effects
  • 'Hamburger' menus for mobile devices
  • Interactive image slideshows or content carousels
  • Image hot-spots
  • Pop-ups and overlays
  • Quizzes, polls and data-capture forms


One of the joys of email development is that there are a vast number of email clients and devices out there with wildly varying degrees of support for anything beyond simple table-based layouts. As you'd expect, this creates unique challenges when it comes to implementing interactive features in an email - without intervention, what works beautifully on an iOS device will be a huge mess in the more backward mail clients such as Microsoft Outlook. A lot of the skill in what we do is in creating emails with graceful degradation, so that nobody receives a broken email.

Interactive content is predominantly reserved for WebKit-powered email clients - that means iPhones, iPads, Apple Mail, Outlook on a Mac, and older native Android mail clients. Based on 1.28 billion email opens recorded by Litmus, that accounts for at least 50% of recipients, many more for some audiences and demographics. 

To discuss a project, or even just pick our brains, call +44 (0)1189 778578 or send us a message. We'd love to hear from you.