AMP for Email - Interactive and Dynamic Email Experiences at OYO

OYO’s journey with AMP for Email; And what you should know when developing your first AMP email.

Here’s how the interactive experience of OYO’s AMP-Email looks like in Gmail

Emails have always been fixed, archival documents that you can read info from, see a couple of images, or click a link on them to open a web page… Well, only until now.

With Gmail’s support for AMP for Email, an email can do a lot more — from listing out the recommended OYO hotels for you, to showing their current ratings and helping you cherry-pick the most comfortable stay. All in real time and that too, straight from the email. In short, email isn’t “just email” any more.

AMP Emails have enabled us to deliver more information to our recipients within the same space using familiar, interactive content layouts. Fetching dynamic data for prices or hotel ratings and adding interactive sections like carousels have added flavour to the email experience.

What’s special about AMP Emails?

If you haven’t already noticed, in the above email demo a user can actually interact with various components of the email — as if on an app or a website. If you are also thinking that the information in that email is being updated dynamically as user performs actions, you’d be completely right!

The last time we saw an email being convincingly dynamic was… never before ⚡.

AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) has long ago broken the barrier of being just some high-performance “Mobile webpages.” But this initiative is not only a big leap for AMP, it’s also a breakthrough in the email technology itself.

An AMP Email showing best offers on OYO hotels

Why AMP Emails at OYO?

To answer this, we need to put focus on what’s missing in today’s emails. And what issues we face as a hospitality company trying to communicate with our guests.

Interactivity

An email is essentially a static document of information — there are no “user-actions”, at least not within the email itself.

AMP Emails break this line of thought and allow you to implement the very interactive and responsive web components in an email that you would see in any usual AMP webpage. They can contain carousels, forms or accordions.

For us, this meant that we can deliver more information to our recipients within the same space using familiar, interactive content layouts. For example, we can mention the aggregate guest-rating value of a hotel up-front, and on the click of a button expand it in-place to show detailed breakdown of the ratings.

Interactive hotel ratings in an AMP email

Dynamic, real-time information

AMP Emails also allow us to always get current and fresh information to display. This solves a problem we at OYO often faced with emails — they go stale very quickly.

For instance, conveying our dynamic prices… Once we mentioned a room-rate on an email, it stays put. Even if the prices change the next day, the email would show the same old value. Now that’s what changes with AMP Emails.

For prices (and other dynamic hotel data), now we can fetch it fresh from our systems whenever a user opens the email. This is valid for prices, guest ratings, up-to-date hotel & room images, ongoing offers, everything. It not only means that well-grounded information is delivered to our guests, but also that one email sent is enough for making sure that the receiver gets a reliable source of information for quite a while.

Fetching hotels’ data for a selected city in real time

Summarising…

Bringing AMP to emails is a very ambitious step by Google and the AMP community. What started a year ago, now may redefine what the meaning of email is today.

Last year, Google announced the development on AMP emails

Big shout-out to the Gmail team, for piloting us through the implementation. Some major observations by our developers who got their share of fun implementing AMP emails over this winter —

  • It may seem that allowing things like XHR Calls within email risks security, but that’s not the case because of how AMP validates their authenticity.
  • Only AMP components are allowed in AMP Emails. You can’t include any external Javascript.
  • It involves a new MIME Type. If the email-client supports it, the AMP Emails will show up. For clients that don’t support this spec yet, the content will gracefully fall back to the plain old HTML version.

That said, regardless of the need of juggling with one more MIME type, the line between an email and a web app has definitely faded a lot in a year, all thanks to our friendly-neighbourhood lightning symbol ⚡.