What is AMP for email and why is it useful?

Fast Web Media

You've probably encountered Google's AMP technology, even if you aren't actually aware of it. Created in 2015, AMP began as a framework that allows website owners to create lighter web pages, thereby speeding up load times and creating a better experience for their users.

If you've seen a small lightning bolt icon next to a news story when you've searched Google for something on your mobile, you've seen a page built with AMP.

After its launch, websites quickly started adopting AMP, and as a result Google continued to evolve it. What was originally meant just for websites and was officially termed Accelerated Mobile Pages changed its name to the non-acronymed AMP and extended its reach to cover a multitude of purposes, most notably email.

What is AMP for email?

Simply put, AMP is Google’s attempt to make email faster, sleeker and easier for the end user. Through the addition of dynamic components, emails built with AMP allow businesses to update their messages with new information and users to complete a task within the email itself rather than having to click a link to an external website or app.

Why is AMP for email important?

The role of email in our digital diet has changed significantly. Whereas once we used our inboxes just to communicate with friends and family, now thanks to the prominence of email marketing, they’re busy hubs that we open to everything from brand newsletters to notifications from event promoters, airlines and hotels.

However, email technology hasn’t changed to accommodate this evolution. As a result, emails from brands are still largely simplistic in look and feel, and offer only a short burst of information that drives the receiver through to a website.

And, of course, once an email is sent, it’s sent. The information is set in stone, never to be altered. Normally this isn’t an issue, but when the message contains information that can change at a moment’s notice - flight times, for example - email loses a certain amount of value.

With its use of dynamic components, AMP for email changes this. Now brands can create eye-catching emails that will engage the recipient and can be updated with fresh information, even after it’s been sent.

Writing on the Google blog, Gmail Product Manager Aakash Sahney explained that this was a driving force behind AMP’s development. “Many people rely on email for information about flights, events, news, purchases and beyond - more than 270 billion emails are sent each day!

“AMP for Email will also make it possible for information to easily kept up-to-date, so emails never get stale and the content is accurate when a user looks at it.”

Fast Web Media

Who can use AMP for email?

AMP for email is open to everyone, and everyone can gain from it. AMP emails are sleek and eye-catching, meaning that no matter what you’re promoting, they can gain and hold your audience’s attention.

That said, not everyone will find equal value in it.

In its initial phase, the technology has been used by a small handful of companies, including Pinterest and Oyo Rooms. Pinterest has used it to allow their users to browse various images and pin them to their boards without ever leaving the email.

This is fun functionality that makes pinning easier, but it’s not essential and doesn’t fundamentally alter the role of email in Pinterest users’ experience of the brand. Oyo, on the other hand, has empowered its users to scroll through accommodation options and view ratings, again without having to leave the email and visit the website. The end result is a more convenient user journey that provides users with the latest information whenever they visit the email.

Whether your business can use it to similar effect depends on what your business is and how you use email as part of your marketing strategy. For example, if you use it to provide users with time-sensitive information that’s likely to change, then AMP for email can be invaluable.

Getting started with AMP for email

As AMP for email uses the same basic technology and principles as AMP for websites, the process for getting started is relatively straightforward - especially if you’ve used AMP before.

The best place to start is Google’s AMP Playground, which allows you to make changes to code and see the impact they make in real-time. Doing this will allow you and your dev team to get a clearer understanding of the technology.

It’s also important to know that AMP for email is still very much in its infancy, so it isn’t universally available across all email marketing tools (i.e. Mailchimp) and doesn’t work in all email clients (i.e. Hotmail).

Google has compiled a full guide to getting started that includes more about security and registration requirements. The information can be viewed here and should be followed closely for a stress-free set-up.

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