Does interactive email have a place in the B2B industry?

Going into 2017, there was a lot of talk around interactive email as the next best thing. Just about every prediction post I read made mention of it. Still, it took quite some time for this phenomenon to start hitting the inbox.

Thankfully though, in the second half of the year we saw some really creative emails popping up.

As you might expect, we saw interactivity from our favorite #emailgeek pioneers: Litmus, and table tr td (camiah).

Interactive slider email from Litmus
Color by numbers in your inbox via table tr td (camiah)

The trend even broke into consumer marketing, with brands like Wendy’s & Nest creating interactive inbox experiences.

Wendy’s email allows users to toggle through different salad options
Nest’s email allows people to set up a purchase in the inbox.

One place we didn’t see it?

Content marketing.

(Ok, Litmus did it, but I think we can agree that they’re about 12 steps ahead of the rest of us.)

For the most part, the world of B2B email seems to trend several years behind the rest of the email marketing world. I’ll be the first to admit, before I was so invested in the email community, I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. Content marketing is different than consumer marketing, and somehow that was enough of an excuse for it to be behind. Well, that and the good ol’ Outlook excuse, of course.

Fast forward a few years to a time where I am invested, and this mindset is one of my biggest pet peeves. (Not quite as big as the ‘fluff bullet’, but it’s close. See I didn’t know I love Email Marketing Until I Hated It.)

Is there a place for this kind of interaction in content marketing emails?

Here are some ideas that come to mind.

I receive a number of newsletters every day from B2B companies, and interactive sliders would be perfect for them. Much like the Litmus email, users could flip through each article rather than having to scroll.

Live Events
When I saw the Nest email, my first thought was: events. The B2B audience may not be purchasing innovative thermostats for their home, but they are purchasing tickets to live events. Why not test out this kind of inbox interaction on those?

Bundles & Welcomes
The toggle interaction strikes me as the most obvious for content marketers because of its versatility. Perhaps the user gets to choose their own journey by picking whatever asset in the bundle speaks to them the most. Maybe you’re marketing a report and there are several teaser statistics you want to include.

What if that toggle menu was part of your welcome strategy? A user requests more information about your company, and the email you send them has a toggle menu displaying different offerings. (I’d be excited about that company, just saying!)

Now, the million dollar question.

How do the many faces of Outlook factor into all this?

Both the Nest, and Litmus interactive emails functioned perfectly in the Microsoft Outlook for Mac app. (I didn’t personally receive Wendy’s email, but it’s safe to say it would’ve work as well.) When I checked them out on the web version of Outlook, they did not, but all was not lost. Each email had fallbacks in place that allowed for an effective email to still be presented. I wouldn’t have known what I was missing had I not seen the email in two different places.

Email does not have to look the same everywhere, and we don’t have to hold back our creativity based on varying degrees of support. Learn where your users are opening their emails, and then design from the top down.

Every new development takes time to be widely supported. This does not mean you can’t explore and experiment with the possibilities.

So, does interactive email have a place in the B2B industry?

Of course it does.