AMP for Email: What Publishers Need to Know

amp for email publishers

When Google announced that it was testing out Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) content in Gmail last year, emailers took notice. After all, it’s not often that something exciting happens in email. Now that AMP for Email is rolling out for real, it’s back in the news. Before you rush to AMP up your email, here’s what you need to know.

AMP for Email: The Details

Since 2015, Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages format has allowed publishers to improve site performance with fast, responsive experiences. AMP for Email brings this technology to the inbox, enabling users to fill out forms, browse carousels of content, and complete other actions without leaving the email.

A quick FAQ:

  • What email clients will support AMP? So far, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Outlook.com, and Mail.Ru have announced commitments to AMP in some capacity.
  • Who can send AMP email? You’re free to create them to your heart’s content, but you can’t send them until you’ve been approved by Google.
  • Are all AMP components available for use in email? No, only a subset of AMP components are supported in the inbox. The AMP for Email documentation also provides a full list of supported components.
  • What happens to an AMP email when it’s forwarded? Email clients will strip the AMP MIME part from the email when a user hits reply or forward, which makes it all the more important to provide fallback content.

AMP’s potential for more engaging email experiences has piqued the interest of many email marketers, but is the potential equal for publishers? Not quite.

AMP for Email is a bit different for publishers.

Before AMP put a fix in motion last year, the biggest publisher complaint about AMP on the web was its interference with branding. Rather than showing a publisher’s domain, the AMP versions of pages replaced the original page URLs with an unfavorable google.com/amp URL. Rest assured, your AMP emails won’t say Google in the subject line, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other concerns for publishers considering AMP.

The primary appeal of AMP is that it allows readers to accomplish tasks within the email. However, for publishing & media companies, the purpose of email is typically to get readers out of the email and onsite, where these readers can be more effectively monetized.

In that sense, AMP in email could be antithetical to the typical ad-supported publishing business model. AMP for Email doesn’t support AMP ad components, so letting readers endlessly browse content within an email doesn’t provide as much opportunity for revenue as browsing AMP-powered articles on the web.

Importantly, publisher newsletters don’t just serve different functions for the publishers sending them. They serve different functions for the audience receiving them than a traditional marketing email does. Some readers subscribe to publishing & media newsletters to consume news content in a contained space; does browsing through content in an email take away from that? Other readers share stories with others by forwarding newsletters; when forwarding strips the AMP MIME part out of an email, will their intended recipient see the right content?

Making things easier for your audience can a good thing, and in general, that’s what AMP for Email has the potential to do. But it’s important to weigh whether your AMP efforts will actually accomplish that.

What publishers should consider before turning to AMP for Email

Before you make the call to get on board with AMP, here are some things to think about:

  • Your available resources for email development. With the additional MIME part required by AMP, sending AMP email essentially requires you to build two versions of each email. Can you comfortably sustain those efforts?
  • The goals of your email program. Is your email program designed to drive traffic to your site? Or is it more about keeping your brand top-of-mind? If it’s the former, you’ll have to figure out if AMP will cause you to lose out on onsite ad revenue.
  • Where your audience reads email. Not every email client supports AMP, and as email goes, some of those clients may never support AMP. Do you have a large enough AMP-ready audience to justify the effort required?
  • Why your audience uses email for news in the first place. One of the virtues of newsletters is that it provides a finite, finishable way to consume news at a certain point in time. It also allows readers to quickly forward articles to others. Will a dynamic AMP email disrupt your audience’s process?
  • Your email content plan. As with any new technology, it’s not enough just to use it; you have to have a reason to do so. If you’re implementing AMP content without adding value to your audience’s email experience, it’s worth thinking about whether that time might be better spent elsewhere.

Potential Uses for Publishers

If you decide to take AMP out for a spin, here are a few ways publishers could implement AMP content in a way that fits (or even supplements) the business model.

  • Perks for paid subscribers. Given the additional effort required by AMP-enabled emails, you might consider offering interactive emails as part of your paid product. Still, without universal support for AMP, you don’t want to leave any paying customers out.
  • News alerts for developing stories. Breaking news alert emails are a good way to capitalize on audience attention at moments of high interest, but often, the email must be sent before the full story is known. An AMP-powered breaking news email could provide updated information in-email, though it must be weighed whether this is more valuable for you than directing them to an onsite page that can do the same.
  • Marketing functions. Early examples of AMP in the inbox include ways to fill out forms without leaving the inbox. If you’re at one of the many publishing & media companies branching out into events, this may ease the registration process.
  • Managing email preferences. When AMP was first announced last year, early adopter Booking.com showed off a way to set email preferences within the email itself. You could use this to promote other newsletters, or convince potential unsubscribers to opt down into different communication.

Editor, PostUp PlayBook