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Interactive Newsletter Emails Create Community, Not Just Subscribers

Seeing high open rates but no CTR? Interactive emails are the answer.

So you've A/B tested your headlines and created the prettiest header this side of the Mississippi, and still, your audience participation isn't where you'd like it to be. 

Looking through the newsletter goals you created for yourself, you see that your reply, share, and click-through rates aren't nearly as high as you'd like. 

You want your newsletter to have the community feel that comes with adoring fans. 

Allowing your audience to interact directly with your newsletter is the golden ticket you need to increase their participation. 

What is an Interactive Newsletter?

Interactive newsletters are emails that allow and encourage the recipient to take an action within the email itself. 

People love to participate when it's easy and hate extra steps in their way. That's why emails with built-in social sharing buttons see a 150% increase in click-through rate. 

According to a study conducted by Martech Advisor, interactive content increases click-to-open rates by 73%. 60% of people in their study said they are more likely to engage with interactive emails, and 50% said they'd like to see more interactive content in their inboxes. 

Interactive content can include:

  • Videos 

  • In-email polls

  • Puzzles

  • Games

  • Image carousels

  • Product customization

  • Add-to-cart functions

Your audience has their attention pulled in a million different directions each day. Why not capture their focus by giving them something pretty to look at and play with? 

Benefits of an Interactive Newsletter

Why Listen to me?

I’ve ghost-written newsletters for Saas and renewable energy CEOs for the last five years, all while growing my own newsletter, The Modern Mythmaker, past 2000 subscribers with 49% open rates and 4% CTRs. 

74% of Americans subscribe to between 1 and 10 newsletters from their favorite brands/creators. I'm subscribed to at least thirty, and I only read 1-2 in their entirety each week. I'll interact with/reply to maybe one per month. 

If you're hammering away trying to build an audience and you're not seeing participation, adding interactivity is going to return massive rewards. 

This isn't to discourage you and stop you from starting/continuing a newsletter. Owning a small community where you teach and grow with your audience is wildly fulfilling! 

We're here to encourage you to set yourself apart. Offering interactive features is your way to cut through the noise. 

Here are three ways that adding interactive content boosts your newsletter participation: 

Enhances Engagement and Time Spent Reading

Interactive Newsletter Emails Create Community, Not Just Subscribers

Emails that include multimedia receive the highest levels of engagement. These can include GIFs, videos, photos, etc. 

Imagine this: 

You go to an art gallery. There are two exhibits side-by-side. Both feature a block of poetic text written on a notecard and stapled to a wall. 

In the first exhibit, the wall behind the notecard is blank. Off to the side, the artist has included a simple business card with their website and socials on it. 

In the second, The artist has included a flipbook of polaroids that you can flip through that inspired the poem they wrote above. The artist has included their website and socials on a series of postcards with poetry and pictures you can take home. 

Which exhibit will you stare at longer? Which will move you to the artist's website? 

I'm willing to bet it's the pretty one. 

Giving your subscribers something fascinating to look at will make them more likely to take the actions you want them to take. 

Improves Click-through Rates

Interactive Newsletter Emails Create Community, Not Just Subscribers

Campaigns with multimedia receive, on average, 42% higher click-through rates. 

Static emails rely only on CTA's. You're making an ask and trying to move your audience to action every time. 

You can move your audience to action with interactive emails without asking them for anything directly. By including, for example, a color customization palette and a direct-to-cart link, you can bypass the ask entirely.  

Your audience can see what a product would look like in their hands and imagine themselves using it without you telling them what it would be like! You earn several clicks, see higher engagement, and build a happier audience in one stroke. 

Collects Valuable Data and Insights

Interactive Newsletter Emails Create Community, Not Just Subscribers

By including polls, quizzes, or feedback forms in an interactive newsletter, you can: 

  1. Give your audience a sense that their opinions are important to you and that they're part of a community

  2. Gather feedback that helps determine the direction of your newsletter's future

  3. Significantly raise the number of clicks per email. 

Matt Grey, who writes The Soulful Entrepreneur, cites the polls and gamification that beehiiv offers as the number one reason he was able to grow his newsletter so quickly.

You can then use this data to create perfectly segmented lists of subscribers, enabling you to produce more targeted approaches for different sections of your audience. 

How Can I Make My Newsletter More Fun? 

If you've reached this point and think, "I can see the benefits, but what exactly should I add?" Don't worry. We’ve got you. 

Before you read on, however, you should know that anything we've suggested here is possible with beehiiv's sweet, sweet suite of tools. 

Embed Interactive Quizzes

If you’re trying to engage and deeply understand your audience, there are few better ways than by using an interactive quiz. 

Quizzes help: 

  • New subscribers know what to expect

  • Marketers know how to segment the audience

  • Writers gather data on how well their points are coming across

There's a reason Buzzfeed puts out thousands of those ridiculous "Which Harry Potter character would you be if you were an alien sent back in time?" type quizzes. They work. People love to identify themselves with things they love to the nth degree. If you can help them do that in a fun, lighthearted way, your click-through rates will skyrocket. 

Morning Brew is another example, they embed Typeform quizzes straight into their emails to give users the shortest possible path to completing them. They use their quizzes to see how well-informed their audience is on the news they put out. 

Interactive Newsletter Emails Create Community, Not Just Subscribers

Incorporate Gamification 

If you see low engagement, it might be time to run a contest. Get creative! Think of a prize that someone who reads your newsletter would love, and give it to the person who brings you the most subscribers. 

My favorite example comes from a newsletter about fantasy books. The creator took a picture of his bookshelf and said: “To the person who brings in the most referrals—I will mail you the book of your choice." 

One of beehiiv's many audience-engaging features is the newsletter referral system. If you run a referral contest, you can track precisely who brought you the most subscribers. Consider posting a weekly leaderboard. 

Marcus Ramsey, who writes the AI-focused newsletter The Brink, was able to grow his newsletter to 14,000 in less than 30 days by running a referral program. 

Integrate Countdown Timers for Offers

Suppose you need help filling seats at a webinar or want to run a temporary discount for a premium offer. In that case, a countdown timer is your perfect solution to generate hype. 

Best practices for using a countdown timer: 

  1. Make sure the timer is above the fold. Ideally, put it at the top of the email, next to the CTA. 

  2. Make it look pretty with contrasting colors and borders that stand out. Make sure fonts are clear and readable. 

  3. Use timers sparingly. One email with a timer can drive urgency; five emails with timers in a row are gimmicky. 

  4. Stay true to the time that you laid out. If you extend the time for your offer, don't just re-set the timer and send another email. People aren't stupid. The less arbitrary you can make your countdowns, the better. 

Feature Live Social Media Feeds 

If you're trying to build your following on specific social platforms, cross-promotion with your newsletter is a fantastic way to do it! Tactics I've seen work include: 

  • A live feed of your Twitter that shows you're at 9987 followers with a caption that says, "If you become my 10,000th follower, I'll buy you a pizza." 

  • Showing your brand's trending Instagram posts in an interactive email that encourages readers to post their video tagging you and using your hashtag. 

  • A live link to the comments section of the creators' YouTube video that said, "Comments are popping OFF. Do you want to join in?" 

You can do this easily in beehiiv using RSS feeds. 

Utilize Interactive Infographics

Interactive Newsletter Emails Create Community, Not Just Subscribers

Chartr is the industry leader in news optimized for visual learners. They're the only newsletter that I religiously read every week. 

Information is cheap. Everyone is sending out information-rich content, so statistics and percentages have much less impact when you simply repeat them. 

If you can, turn them into an eye-popping infographic that not only shows the reader precisely what the information means for them but is also clickable. They will be far more engaged than if you just sent them an info-heavy email. 

Slide to Reveal Before/After Comparisons

If you're writing about home renovations, fitness transformations, website upgrades, or anything else that will benefit from testimonials about how you helped transform it, the before/after slide is your perfect engagement hack. 

It boosts your click-through rate, shows readers what you can do, and encourages readers to interact with your post—without you explicitly asking for anything. 

Polls and Live Results

Needing to boost your audience participation? Consider a live poll

LinkedIn does this very well. When you vote in a poll on LinkedIn, you are immediately treated to a bar graph of other people's answers. You are then encouraged to comment on what other people have answered. 

People love seeing how others in their communities and interest groups vote in real-time. If you can offer a live feed in an email, you can get repeat engagement from one email as your readers keep coming back to see who agrees and disagrees with them. 

3 Surprising Interactive Newsletter Examples

As we've combed the wild world of email, looking for prime examples of interactive newsletters, we've found three that rise to the top. Airbnb, Buzzfeed, and Nike are putting out killer interactive emails. 

Airbnb's Travel Inspiration Quizzes

Airbnb recently sent out a series of emails that offered quizzes to help you determine what type of traveler you are and where you should go.

Interactive Newsletter Emails Create Community, Not Just Subscribers

After an eight-question quiz, you're given a travel persona and told your perfect destination to travel to based on your answers. You can complete the whole thing in an email, and then you're directed to a page of ideal rentals in the destination they recommend. 

Why It Stands Out: People are busy. No one wants to spend hours sorting through potential destinations, cross-referencing with their friends, stuck in an endless loop of recommendations. With its vast mountain of data, Airbnb will tell you exactly where you should go based on who you are! 

BuzzFeed's Highly Shareable Content

Interactive Newsletter Emails Create Community, Not Just Subscribers

Nobody does quizzes better than Buzzfeed. They've built such an engaged following that they can put out quizzes with names like "Which Ousted Arab Spring Ruler Are You?" and people take them

The reason it works? Buzzfeed sends out highly sharable newsletters. If you've just taken a quiz that asks which Friends character you are and find out you're the "Ross," you will naturally send it to your friends to see who the "Phoebe" is. Their quizzes provide a hit of dopamine and make friends laugh, which increases the level of engagement and time spent per email. 

Nike's Customized Product Drops

Interactive Newsletter Emails Create Community, Not Just Subscribers

Nike always sends exclusive product drops using their SNKRS app and email promotions. You can customize shoes right in the email, change colors, add features you'd like, and earn access to future exclusive sneaker drops by participating heavily in the community (and sometimes by taking secret actions within the newsletter). 

These newsletters hit key psychological triggers in readers' minds: 

  • A sense of community 

  • A feeling of exclusivity

  • A fear of missing out on product drops. 

The benefits of subscribing are clear for subscribers who are fans of exclusive Nike gear. 

How Can I Spice Up My Newsletter: Frequently Asked Questions

Can Interactive Newsletters Improve Click-through Rates?

Absolutely. Adding interactive elements to your emails increases CTRs by up to 200% across campaigns. When in-email videos are included, CTRs are often boosted by 300%. People who use quizzes in their campaigns see 39% higher CTRs than those who don't. 

How Do I Create An Interactive Newsletter in Canva? 

Canva offers a free newsletter builder that lets you create eye-catching, clickable newsletters for free. All you have to do is search for the Canva newsletter builder, and you’ll be on your way! 

Interactive Newsletter Emails Create Community, Not Just Subscribers

What are Some Common Interactive Elements to Include in a Newsletter?

Common interactive elements include: 

  • Videos

  • Quizzes

  • Polls

  • Before-and-after sliders

  • Clickable images

  • Clickable GIFs

  • Videos

  • Interactive infographics

  • Image carousels

  • Countdown timers

  • Animated buttons

  • Appointment booking calendars

Can Interactive Newsletters Help in Segmenting Audience?

Absolutely. Savvy writers can use quizzes to engage their audiences and then utilize their audience's information to create highly targeted, segmented lists. 

If you write a newsletter about diving, for example, and find out that half of your audience is into freediving and the other half is into scuba diving, you can write to both audiences. Keep your core points the same and repurpose your content across both lists. 

How Often Should I Send Interactive Newsletters?

This is one of the most common questions email marketers ask, and the best answer is that it's up to you and your audience. 

What frequency of newsletters do you and your team have the bandwidth for sending? Start there. 

How often does your audience want to receive your content so they don't feel "spammed?" Create a poll and ask them. 

How To Create An Interactive Newsletter?

If you're starting a newsletter from scratch, using the right interactive newsletter software from day one is the easiest way to make a newsletter more interactive down the road. 

Host your newsletter on a service that offers interactive features. At beehiiv, we've created the easiest interactive platform to use. We make bringing in polls, videos, surveys, quizzes, and audience segmentation tools easy. 

It's much easier to start with the right tool and incorporate interactivity early than it is to begin with the wrong tool and pull your hair down the line when you're trying to make your newsletter interactive on a platform that doesn't support it. 

A few other vital steps are important for creating an interactive newsletter. 

Understand Your Audience and Set Clear Objectives

Start by identifying your newsletter's goals, such as increasing engagement, driving sales, or educating your audience. 

Knowing your audience's preferences and behaviors is crucial when choosing interactive elements​​​​. 

For example, if you're writing a newsletter like James Clear, where the point is to offer concise knowledge quickly, many interactive elements are probably not what you want. 

If you're writing a clothing blog that quizzes users on their seasonal fashion choices, you definitely want interactive elements. 

Test for Mobile Responsiveness: 

In today's world, your newsletter must be accessible and mobile-friendly. We've written a comprehensive guide to ensuring your beehiiv newsletter is mobile-optimized, which you can find here

Incorporate Interactive Elements Using Great Software

If you choose beehiiv (which we hope you do), we've included many ways to increase interactivity to ensure your subscribers stay engaged. 

We offer: 

  • A custom website where your readers can find you

  • A fully customizable newsletter template builder that requires no code

  • The best-in-class referral program

  • Easy-to-make audience polls

  • Effortless ad integrations

  • AI assistance

  • Interactive in-email cross-promotion

  • Survey forms

  • Seamless integrations with dozens of other sites 

We make it easy to sign up and get started creating, and building a newsletter that your audience will love. Consider starting a 30-day trial of beehiiv today, and you’ll see how powerful it really is. All of the education you could ever want about adding interactivity and building an interactive platform is included. 

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