Engage customers during COVID-19 and beyond with interactive email

According to Epsilon’s PeopleCloud Messaging statistics, during the COVID-19 crisis, more emails have been delivered and customer engagement has been up. For March and April, we saw 5% growth in send volume YoY. And the volume send-to-open ratio increased 22% from February to March and April (23% to 28%). While reaching out to customers during this time of crisis is important, it’s also key to make sure that our emails are relevant and meaningful. Some pioneering email marketers are adding value by using innovative and interactive content to break through the clutter and connect with customers, and it’s easy to see why. Interactive content drives email engagement and results:

  • Epsilon has seen live time-of-open content increase email engagement by as much as 40%.
  • According to DemandGen, 91% of B2B buyers prefer to consume interactive and visual content.
  • Martech Advisor reports that “interactive email content increases the click-to-open rate by 73% and adding videos to email can boost click rates up to 300%.”
  • Kapost says that interactive content generates 2X more conversions than passive content.

So, what exactly is interactive content? It’s any content that your customers can tap, click, swipe or interactive with. There are many powerful ways to feature interactivity in your email. You can include one interactive element or several, but it’s key to use these tactics strategically. Keep in mind, the more interactivity you use in one email, the more you’ll impact the weight and deliverability of your message.

Here are some examples of interactive content:

  • Quizzes
  • Interactive product carousels
  • Video
  • Image/button rollovers
  • Hamburger menus — display when user taps icon
  • Carousels
  • Progressive disclosure
  • Click to call buttons
  • Live polls
  • Live local weather
  • Live Instagram feeds
  • Countdown timers
  • Store locators

Let’s take a look at some recent examples of how brands have been using interactive content to drive engagement during the COVID-19 crisis.

AutoZone How To @ Home Series 

  • Send Day: 5/7/20
  • Subject Line: Part 2: Maintaining your oil
  • Preheader: Learn how & why to change it regularly

Epsilon helped AutoZone modify their email calendar and take a whole new strategic direction. We changed their content to focus less on selling and more on helping. As a result, we created a 6-part educational email series called AutoZone HOW-TO@HOME. These emails helped customers stretch their dollars and leveraged step-by-step videos that taught them how to complete car projects themselves, without paying a mechanic. Using video in this trusted advice series drove engagement and resulted in a positive response from customers, with week-over-week increases in open and click rates.


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TD Ameritrade Town Hall

  • Subject Line: Special event on 4/4: Navigating the Market in Times of Uncertainty
  • Preheader: Insights on the market from the TD Ameritrade Network | View online

This email aligned with investor fears during this time of crisis and helped customers get clarity among the chaos of the volatile stock market. It invited them to an exclusive Townhall virtual event and included an add-to-calendar feature that populated the event on the customer’s calendar to remind them to attend.



Marriot Bonvoy Virtual Vacation

  • Send Day: 4/13/20
  • Subject Line: Level up your armchair travel, [First-Name]

When the crisis caused travel to come to a screeching halt, Marriot found a way to deliver a clever and engaging email that invited customers to enjoy a virtual vacation without leaving home. It offered much-needed escapes to beautiful and exotic destinations that were just a click away. Marriot designed the email with attention-getting, interactive buttons that changed color from white to black every time you hovered or rolled over them. The email encouraged customers to get inspired and dream about their next vacation by experiencing virtual tours, movies, TV, podcasts, books and Marriott Bonvoy’s social channels. It also encouraged them to enjoy these destinations live and in person when the world opens up.

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Learn more: Email 2020 trends guide: Interactive content



  • Send Day: 3/31/20
  • Subject Line: Time for another round of This or That (and 25% off sneakers)!
  • Pre Header: Plus 50% off our fave dress picks.

This highly engaging email added an element of fun, as it asked customers to vote for the shoes they’d most like to wear for different COVID-19 “occasions”, like video chatting with friends, going for a walk or working from home. The email featured a live poll, which displayed results in real time. The feedback from the poll could be used to personalize content in subsequent email campaigns by featuring the customer’s favorite shoes. Plus, to appeal to the many families who have been experiencing income challenges, it also offered savings on select styles.

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  • Send Day: 05/08/20
  • Subject Line: Our curbside pickup comes with 50 bonus points
  • Preheader: Starting tomorrow, get rewarded for curbside pickup

During the crisis, Dunkin’ wanted to encourage customers to order ahead and use their curbside pickup service. They rewarded customers with 50 bonus points every time they used this service on the Dunkin’ app. The email highlighted the four simple steps for ordering ahead and featured a live map that displayed each customer’s nearest Dunkin’ location and address at the time of open.


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Now, more than ever, brands are using email to stay in touch with their customers. Leveraging interactive content while customers are quarantining at home and looking for entertainment and education can make your emails more relevant, engaging and memorable. It can also help you build measurable results and lasting customer connections.

Interested in learning more about interactive email and how to get started? Check out our guide.