How to Increase Email Engagement with Interactive Elements

email engagement

By Jenna Bunnell

Did you know that 81% of B2B marketers admit email newsletters are their most used form of content marketing? This statistic counters all the skepticism around the efficacy of email marketing.

Interactive designs are all the rage among digital marketers who are constantly looking for new and innovative ways of increasing user engagement. Identifying what appeals to consumers is how B2B marketers can stay customer-centric.

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What Are Interactive Design Elements?

Interactive elements in an email are the features that prompt users to actively engage with the content for it to be fully displayed. This includes actions like swiping, tapping, or hovering your cursor over the content. Notice how the color changes on a CTA button when you move your cursor over it? That is an interactive element in emails.

For example, if you want to guide users to click through to your free video chat, you could try making it an interactive design where the font color changes on scrolling. This makes it more eye-catching.

Interactive emails, while not necessary, certainly make your emails more attractive. With completion rife to increase email engagement, any tool that helps you do that is worth exploring. More engagement = more interest in your brand.

Before you jump right into incorporating interactive elements in your next newsletter, here’s something to consider:

Not all email service providers support interactive elements. Outlook, for example, doesn’t support interactive elements, and neither do the majority of mobile devices. To ensure your subscribers can view your email in its entirety, regardless of how they access it, you should provide fallback images.

You should also test your email newsletters across multiple email service providers to check for any possible flaws. Do this before sending the emails to your list of subscribers. Ensuring accuracy and providing good quality content consistently boosts customer satisfaction with your brand. This provides the roadmap for how to scale your business.

Interactive Elements to Increase Email Engagement

Let’s look at six interactive design elements commonly used to increase email engagement:

1. CTA Color Change on Hover

If you’re sending regular newsletters to your customers, chances are you include a CTA (call to action) button somewhere in your content. One of the most effective ways to make your email design more dynamic is by animating your CTA button. When a subscriber hovers their cursor over a CTA option, you can animate it to change color- immediately drawing attention to it.

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You can choose to either change the color of the text or the background. To animate your CTA button –

Insert custom CSS code into your email code. Using the same hover color as your website color scheme is recommended to maintain consistency across your marketing tools and website. Also, remember to hyperlink your landing page URL in your CTA to maximize your web traffic.

2. Image Carousel

An image carousel is like a collage of images that changes every time you move your cursor over it. It’s a great way to display multiple photos of a product in the same space, making your design more dynamic.

For example, Dialpad wants to promote its new VoIP phone in its email newsletter. Their image carousel can have one image of the device, a second image with descriptions of dialpad VoIP services, a third image of the price, and a fourth image of the product specifications. This way, each of the images will be unique and provide useful information about the product.

You can also use the image swap feature or an image carousel to display multiple products. This is particularly useful for ecommerce businesses, for example, if you sell baby products online and have just launched a new collection of baby clothers and toys. You can use the image swap feature in your newsletter to showcase multiple products from your collection.

3. Table of Contents

Ever read a food blog with the option of “jump to recipe” at the top of the page? You can use a similar feature in your email newsletters. A table of contents is a useful feature to have on a newsletter – particularly one that has lots of content. Not every section of your newsletter will be of interest to every subscriber. So, they should have the option to jump to the section that they want to read.

You just need to add anchor tags to your emails, and your subscribers can directly skip to their chosen section of the newsletter. For example, your newsletter has a list of the week’s top three articles. Providing anchor tags gives subscribers something to click on to move easily to the article they want to read. So if they want to read about CRM implementation in small businesses, they don’t have to scroll over the other articles before getting to it.

The one drawback of the interactive table of contents is that they’re not supported by the majority of mobile apps. However, they work on almost all desktop versions. 

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4. Embedded Surveys

Including surveys and feedback button options in your emails makes it easier for subscribers to respond. Since they don’t have to click through to a new page, the chances of them completing the survey are higher. You can also include a link to a quiz you created with BuzzFeed quiz Maker and send it to your mailing list. Surveys are a great way of finding out what’s working and what’s not in your business.

Customers want to feel valued, and the easier you make it for them to give feedback, the easier it is for you to address any possible concerns. This is one of the best ways to improve user experience. Using interactive design elements can make embedded surveys easy to fill. For example, businesses popularly use stars as rating systems in surveys.

When a user moves their cursor over a star, it changes color. Usually, most surveys have five stars. Some also use smiley emoticons. When you move your cursor sideways from the first star to the fourth, the rating increases and then fixes on the star that you click on. Once the user’s response has been recorded, they are then taken to a survey that asks them to explain their rating.

Again, usually, if a user has submitted a score of three out of five stars, the next part of the survey asks what can be done to improve that rating. Another common practice for businesses while conducting interactive surveys is to ask, “How likely are you to recommend us to a friend?”. There is usually a scale from one to 10, and as you move your cursor across the numbers, their colors change.

5. Image Rollover

Display a product from different angles with an interactive image rollover feature. While image rollovers are most commonly used to show the front and back images of a product, you can also use them for more customized content. For example, since the space for text is limited in emails, you can use image rollovers to include added descriptions about your product or service.

So if you’re a web design company, you can showcase your website personalization examples through image rollover.

Subscribers can also use this feature to click on certain product images that take them to a landing page. This is commonly seen on Instagram.

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6. Embedded Videos

Did you know that including video in your email newsletter increases the open rate by 19%? Videos are more engaging than text and a great addition to your email newsletter. But, like other interactive elements, you need to test your videos across multiple email service providers to ensure they can be accessed by all. You also need to provide fallback images or GIFs.

Videos are particularly effective for introducing your brand or a new initiative. For example, if you want to talk about your company’s new CSR involvement, a behind-the-scenes video of the project is a great way to inform people about it. The recommendation length for video content is 30 seconds, and the size is up to 200KB.

You can provide a thumbnail image of the video. Once users click on it, they can be taken to the link on YouTube, Vimeo, or your website. You can also provide an animated GIF of your video. Some brands include a play button on the GIF that subscribers can click through to play your video.

There are multiple ways that you can include video to increase email engagement. Just remember to make your videos engaging and relevant to your brand.

What We Learned

Interactive elements are useful tools to make your emails more attractive. Whether it’s a welcome email that you send new customers or your usual monthly newsletter, you can increase email engagement with just a few interactive design tweaks. If a subscriber is wondering, “What is workflow?”, they may be interested in directly jumping to your article that provides the answer to that question without scrolling through the rest of the newsletter. 

A table of contents allows them to click through to the section of the letter they want to read. Interactive embedded surveys, animated CTA buttons, image rollovers – all these interactive design elements boost UX and increase email engagement.

About the Author

Jenna BunnellJenna Bunnell is the Senior Manager for Content Marketing at Dialpad, an AI-incorporated cloud-hosted unified communications system with disposition codes that provides valuable call details for business owners and sales representatives. She is driven and passionate about communicating a brand’s design sensibility and visualizing how content can be presented in creative and comprehensive ways. Here is her LinkedIn.


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