What Movable Ink Is Doing Wrong (and what Zembula gets right)

 In Email, Interactive Content

By now, you probably know that we’re the “reveal marketing company” that originated the digital Scratch-It. Reveal marketing has such great results that everyone wants to do it! Unfortunately, sometimes the execution doesn’t live up to interactivity’s promises, leading to lackluster click-through and selling opportunities lost.

This email, executed with Movable Ink by Office Depot is a good example of why not every offering is the same when it comes to reveal marketing. Read on for what didn’t work and what to do instead!

Office Depot opens their email with a subject line that gives away what’s inside. Not only is this not an email best practice, it takes away from any curiosity or sense of excitement you’re trying to generate for your viewer. Giving away the reveal in the subject line removes any tension the viewer feels, leading to a lack-luster open rate.

Ho-hum colors, basic text, and some questionable design choices (a circle that scratches off to a square shape?) don’t lead the viewer to want to click through to the experience. Adding in the price tag of the free item you’re getting also looks a bit tacky.

Biggest strike against them? The sizing isn’t optimized for smaller screens. Especially on mobile, which usually makes up at least 30% of an average audience for these experiences, you need to be aware of your user’s experience.

In contrast, use (on-brand) colorful, unique creative. Write compelling copy that isn’t cheesy! Your CTA should guide them to click, either with curiosity-inducing copy or a cute tagline. Be sure that the cover and reveal have the same shapes and templates, so there are no jarring design snafus. Most importantly, be sure that your experiences are optimal sizes across every channel. Don’t worry, we can help with this! We’re always optimized for all your screen sizes, ensuring a seamless, bulletproof user experience on every device.

For example, this adorable Zembula Scratch-it features dynamic re-sizing, fun images, an intriguing CTA, and a cover image and reveal image that are the same shape. Scratch below to interact with it!


A CTA is a huge, important part of the user experience. A successful CTA should entice your viewers to click, either using curiosity, FOMO, a challenge, or an intriguing question to get them to act. Unfortunately, this CTA doesn’t take advantage of any of the psychological principles inherent in good design. A CTA like “get coupon” isn’t very exciting for even the most die-hard couponers out there. Instead of this lackluster phrase, why not try something exciting, intriguing, or fun?

Another poor part of this is that you have no incentive to interact with the experience since the CTA is already present at the bottom. Why would you interact when you can just click to get your coupon?

A better option would have been something like “Diffuse office stress on us”. This gets the viewer thinking about their stressful office life, and you conveniently hand them a free solution at the end! In our Zembula experience, the CTA will pop up only after the viewer has finished interacting, leading to increased engagement and a sense of investment (which is called the IKEA effect and is a powerful psychological component to our interactive experiences).

Unfortunately, all other scratch solutions that are included in email solutions take the viewer from their inbox to an interstitial page to interact before they lead them wherever the CTA takes them. This leads to a whole host of issues including negative impacts on your deliverability (using third-party pages in email can negatively impact your sender score). This also dumps a customer outside of your buying ecosystem! Why send a potential buyer somewhere they can’t buy?

In contrast, launch your visitor from your email directly to an overlay that shows up anywhere you choose on your own website. 

You can also give your customer coupon codes directly in the experience, making it quick and easy to get them everything they need to take advantage of your great offer, like this great Zembula ride-share offer.

As you can see, even with the best intentions in the world there is a lot that can go wrong when introducing interactive experiences into your email. While some of the above issues were with the design, some of the most glaring, and KPI impacting, problems were with the experience itself. Would you like to build an interactive email experience that really works (with a 12x click-through rate and all traffic directed to your own website)? Chat with us! We’ll make it easy for you to create beautiful, fun, and responsive experiences that get results.