It’s not a new concept, but it’s getting a lot of hype lately amongst the email community. It’s even been coined the “next big thing” in email.

We’re talking about interactive content.

Interactive content brings a fresh approach to email, a channel often looked to as static and dated. (We know that’s not true.) Personalization, animation, segmentation; the possibilities are endless. And it’s not just about creating really, really, ridiculously good-looking emails.

Interactive email can:

  • Make your content more compelling
  • Improve your engagement
  • Delight your subscribers

So why aren’t more brands doing it?

The TL;DR version: It’s difficult. Creating brilliant, engaging emails isn’t for the faint of heart – but it can be done. Here are four examples of how we’ve used interactive content in our own emails (and how you can recreate them for yourself):

1. Dynamic Twitter Feed

The email design community was abuzz when Litmus launched a live twitter feed inside one of their emails for The Email Design Conference. Anyone could engage with the feed by simply tweeting with the #TEDC15 hashtag. New tweets would show up in the feed in realtime.

For last year’s ASCEND Summit, we decided to test out the idea in one of our pre-conference emails:


The results? Pretty cool, if we do say so ourselves. (Really Good Emails agrees!)

Kelsey P., the design lead on the project, explains: “We had never really done an interactive email. With the upcoming conference, we wanted to give our audience something to engage with, something to get them excited about. Adding the live twitter feed not only pulled in that social proof, but gave the email a personal touch and got people talking.”

Skill Level: Advanced

Want to try it out for yourself? Head over to Litmus for the full breakdown of instructions. We won’t sugarcoat this one: it’s hard. But the results? 100 percent worth it.

2. Email Sentiment Widget

Gauge subscribe reactions right from the inbox by adding an email sentiment widget to your next campaign, like this one:

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“We were aiming to find a way to let our subscribers tell us how they feel about the emails we send them with the least possible friction,” says Chris V., Creative Director at AWeber. “The simple, two option sentiment widget not only gives them the ability to register feedback on an email without feeling like they have to commit to filling out a traditional survey, it’s also pretty darn delightful. It was such a success that we decided to build and share a tool for anyone who loves email to make one of these widgets on their own.”

Skill Level: Intermediate

We’ve done the hard part for you! Get the code (and instructions to add it to your emails) here.

3. Email Survey

Ok, so technically you can’t embed a survey into your emails. (At least, not yet!) But you can use this hack from SurveyGizmo to allow your subscribers to answer the first question of your survey within a message. Here’s an example:

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As Chris explains, “We survey our subscribers fairly regularly and are trying to find ways to improve both the quality of the the responses we get and the experience for our readers. We decided to include our first question in our survey emails for two reasons: First, it removes an unnecessary step to get to the survey, thus saving some valuable seconds and attention for our subscribers. Second, we were hoping to increase completion rates by having respondents who clicked an initial answer feel like they were already invested in the survey. Our initial experiments have worked out well enough for us to model all of the surveys in our campaigns to use this pattern.”

Skill Level: Intermediate

Have some basic HTML knowledge? Check out SurveyGizmo for the instructions. (Note: You’ll need a SurveyGizmo account to use this feature.)

4. GIFs

Using animated GIFs in your emails is a great way to add an element of delight to your emails. But they can be used for so much more than a few laughs.

GIFs can also help illustrate a product or feature. Take a look at this example from one of our recent Curate email campaigns:


While the GIF doesn’t tell the whole story, it gives subscribers a little more context into what the app can do. You can even use a series of GIFs in place of lengthy copy to build out your idea. We love anything that helps turn a complex concept into something that’s easier to digest.

Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate

Even if you’re not a designer, you can still use GIFs in your emails. Check out Giphy for a large selection of animated GIFs, or create your own using an app like

Want more email inspiration?

From welcome messages and re-engagement campaigns to great uses of GIFs in email, we’ve got a whole Pinterest board full of beautiful email campaigns.

How are you using interactive content in your emails? We want to know!