Exploring Kinetic Email: Part Five

In our final post for Exploring Kinetic Email, I interviewed Jennifer Fahey, Director of Product for Liveclicker. We discussed the role she plays within Liveclicker and how kinetic email approaches are changing the way the inbox operates.

Rory: Thanks for visiting with us today Jen. I’m excited to learn more about your experiences with kinetic email design and how it’s affecting the email world. For our first question; what’s your role within Liveclicker and how does that look on a daily level?

Jen: Thanks, Rory, great to speak with you. I’m the Director of Product at Liveclicker, I help our development team prioritize and execute on our roadmap. We develop new features, and I gather feedback from different teams and clients to take the pulse of the market. Figuring out what our next steps are product-wise and what we need to make it better currently within the RealTime Email system.

Rory: Given your experience with developing Liveclicker’s software, what’s your initial opinion of kinetic email design? Is it ready for the mainstream email community and what were your initial thoughts about it?

Jen: I think with kinetic design the issues are basically within the email clients themselves. What works in IOS or Gmail doesn’t work everywhere else, and that’s an email client issue. It’s difficult because some email clients are really advanced and you can do interactive HTML and CSS, but others are not. For email marketers, it’s all about presenting the correct fallbacks to lesser email clients to achieve the best experience. Sending an email runs the risk of being displayed in literally ALL clients. Marketers don’t really know if an email will be opened on a smartphone, tablet, or desktop – and that can be for one recipient. Fallbacks are a necessity.

So, is it ready for mainstream adoption? Yeah, it’s ready. The caveat is that it takes a fair amount of work for email developers to test kinetic email design across every client, in every scenario. As email clients catch up to the adoption of these developments, I think it will get easier for email marketers to put fallbacks in place to create a safer environment for inbox creativity.

Rory: Does Liveclicker use any kind of kinetic design techniques? How does Liveclicker manage those approaches for fallbacks?

Jen: Yeah, we use kinetic design in the iOS email client on a couple different of our RealTime Email applications, specifically within LivePoll. Our LivePoll feature allows email recipients to take the poll within the inbox, displaying the polling results immediately after the answer is received. This uses kinetic design to interact with the poll participants and contextual email technology to populate the results. Another example is LiveReveal; our system allows marketers to send messages that contain hidden images that are revealed using kinetic effects. That way, recipients are interacting with the email content, unhiding the images without needing an external landing page.

Rory: That’s awesome.  Where do you think kinetic design and contextual email marketing work the best together?

Jen: I believe that they function without one another, but combining them creates a confluence of interaction that really energizes an email template. Like the LivePoll example, it’s kinetic in the sense that it’s interactive within the inbox, but without the contextual technology behind it, there’s no meaning to it. The polling interaction needs server-side data as well as inbox interactivity to reach its full functionality. Removing either type of approach would make the poll rely on an external landing page, which isn’t the optimal experience.

Rory: The inbox becomes more interactive on multiple levels, not just one?

Jen: Yeah, totally, I think anytime you’re able to use both approaches it enhances the experience for the recipient. Not that one approach doesn’t, but why not combine them for improved return on investment.

Rory: Does this lean towards a seamless experience for email and the web? Where do you think contextual email technology will take inbox marketing in the future?

Jen: Yes, incorporating more interaction between the web and email is important, but keeping the interaction within the email is also very essential. I think you have to marry kinetic design with contextual content. To me, contextual marketing is one step ahead of the recipient by using real-time information at the moment the email opens. Adding kinetic design to contextual content takes that marketing intelligence to an actively engaging level inside the inbox.

Rory: I haven’t heard that before, great insights. Where do you see kinetic email design in say, four to five years? Are we going to be remembering it as something that has come and gone, or is it something that could become a big thing?

Jen: Honestly, it depends on the email clients themselves. Now that Microsoft and Google are changing their acceptance of advanced email techniques, I think there will be much more web-like experiences in the inbox. It’s definitely not going to be a niche tactic when the two largest inbox providers are beginning to turn their heads to the changes. It’s natural for other email clients to follow suit.