If you’re a marketer, you know that digital is in an endless state of fluctuation. But one of its top tools — email marketing — has been around for a long time, and for good reason. It is a highly effective digital marketing strategy that connects you with your leads, nurtures them and, ideally, turns them into loyal customers. Even with the high potential inherent in using email to increase profits, though, it’s crucial to ensure you’re maximizing your outcomes by employing the greatest email marketing practices available. And, when 3.9 billion people use email as a digital communication tool, you can rest assured that it’ll be ever-evolving.
2019 email marketing trends
As we reflect on 2019, email trends included a variety of topics that will and have already been transferred into the next decade. Segmentation and targeting through automation will still be among the key factors for success. According to HubSpot, recipients are 75% more likely to click on emails from segmented campaigns than from non-segmented campaigns. Email marketing became tighter and cleaner over the course of 2019, and the trends fluctuated toward delivering content to the audiences who engaged with it and found value in it.
Segmenting and targeting were only one trend that really impacted email marketing ROI in 2019. The way marketers formatted and designed emails experienced a shift in strategy, too. Where trends of the past included sending promotions and sales-oriented messaging filled with busy graphics, last year we saw a lot more plain-text and interactive emails. To promote engagement and to keep audiences entertained and anticipating more content, marketers regularly opted to include quizzes, surveys, games, contests and GIFs — a trend that we expect to see increase in email this year.
It might seem simple, but the use of storytelling has been found effective in grabbing customers’ attention and even in influencing their behaviors. To include a story at the beginning of the email then loop in the agenda of the business and the main marketing point, in addition to the value and services the business provides, can prove highly influential when delivered appropriately to the right audience. This trend can be uniquely effective in reaching each marketing segment or buyer persona. Marketers have known about the power of a good story for years now, and the tendency to employ one is only increasing as the best email marketing strategies develop over time.
Optimizing your emails for mobile devices is one of the best practices to include in your email campaign strategy. About 53% of emails are opened on mobile devices, and 23% of readers who open an email on a mobile device open it again later, according to Campaign Monitor. Further, of the 900 million Gmail users, 75% of them use their accounts on mobile devices. The stats make mobile optimization for emails essential, as more email views happen over mobile than on computer desktop screens.
There are regulations outside of the United States that have changed in favor of more strict privacy policies for personal information. As May of 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect. This policy change had an effect on the gathering and sharing of third-party info for anyone whose email content reaches a member of the European Union (EU). While this may not have had an impact on everyone’s marketing strategy, it was a significant development to consider if there was any chance of an email campaign communicating with someone in the EU.
Personalizing email content was a big hit in 2019. As strategies became more intelligent, marketers found great value in automation. Among the simple tactics we saw develop was including the reader’s first name or information that was unique to the viewer in the email body. It is now proven to increase open rates and drive revenue by as much as 760%. Stepping away from the use of mass messaging and, instead, personalizing emails became a successful tactic in 2019 that we expect to see keep trending up this year.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is now being used to help email marketers come up with the most effective subject lines and images, to predict how a potential lead will interact with an email, to help brands make emails more personal and to anticipate when a viewer may unsubscribe from an email list (so this can be avoided). AI is growing to the point that global automated email marketing is expected to account for US $2.29 billion in revenues by 2025. That is only five years away.
In addition, Adobe recently developed a new AI technology with a series of sophisticated algorithms based upon data and research from email campaigns, and outlined a set of research-based audience behaviors that they would like to introduce to email marketers. The studies that have been conducted by Adobe found that email users open nearly 80% of all work emails and 60% of all personal emails, and, importantly enough, consumers prefer brand-based communications be delivered via their inbox. As time continues on, AI is only going to grow in intelligence, and will make email marketing more effective and easier to execute for all businesses.
Looking forward — 5 trends to know in 2020
From utilizing smarter tools and strategies to connecting with audiences through personalized, sincere messaging and storytelling, email marketers are improving their efforts and are becoming more powerful and effective, especially with the start of the new decade we are in.
New advances in email technologies are driving changes to how consumers read and engage with email. While savvy marketers are certainly taking 2019 trends into account when strategizing new campaigns, here are five emerging 2020 elements for email marketing that we believe every marketer should be aware of and thinking about when implementing new campaigns:
According to a 2018 report from digital security company Norton, 85% of Americans are concerned about their privacy. Further, 93% of Americans believe it is important to require that companies give customers control of how their personal data is used, while 49% believe it is essential. 2018 was a big year in the data protection world, with the EU’s GDPR taking the spotlight, as mentioned up above. The same year, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) created new consumer rights relating to the access to, deletion of, and sharing of personal information collected by businesses. The changes will affect businesses with annual gross revenues exceeding $25 million or that buy or receive for commercial purposes, or even sell or share for commercial purposes, the personal information of 50,000 or more devices. For consumers, it includes the right to access and know the kinds of data collected about them, the right to opt out of having their personal data sold, and the right to have their data forgotten. The California attorney general cannot bring an enforcement action under the CCPA until July 1, 2020.
2. Brand Indicators for Messaging Identification (BIMI)
BIMI displays a verified logo in one’s inbox to help emails stand out. This creates brand recognition, protects the brand against spoofing, builds a lot of trust with subscribers and helps with deliverability in mailbox providers that support BIMI.
There are a few key indicators needed for this new trend to work for a brand, including having an assigned IP address aligned with a brand and its sub-brands. Domains and subdomains need to be registered with a DNS (Domain Name System), and different authentication methods need to be in place.
3. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
AMP is a website-publishing technology developed by Google with the mission to “provide a user-first format for web content.” When AMP was announced in 2015, more than 30 news publishers and several technology companies (including Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and WordPress) were initially announced as collaborators in the AMP Project. The main purpose is to create tappable experiences that provide content publishers with a mobile-focused format for delivering news and information as lush, tap-through stories. Examples include in-email surveys, polls, calendar event RSVPs, live shipping updates, data gathering such as newsletter sign-up or progressive profiling, and actions such as “liking” and other social media activities.
The main trend moving forward in 2020 is to reduce friction between emails and the website. AMP-supported emails will be a more interactive, show-stopper email type than the static ones we see on a daily basis. Sounds quite awesome, right? Well, there are many challenges in programming this within a campaign. The time it takes to program is extended due to the more extensive code base it requires. Also, there is a lack of support because not all providers are subsidiary. Lastly, tracking engagement can be difficult with your provider, so you would need to ensure your ESP (Email Service Provider) can give the correct feedback. With the many challenges AMP faces during implementation, the highlight we need to focus on is that it is much more likely to go from an open to a conversion, immediately.
4. Voice Assistance
Tractica is a marketing intelligence firm that focuses on human interaction with technology. It inducted a report back in 2016 that stated unique consumer users for virtual digital assistants will grow from more than 390 million worldwide users in 2015 to 1.8 billion by the end of 2021.
Maybe Alexa isn’t your forte, but does “Hey, Siri” ring a bell? Voice assistants are on our smartphones and inside smart speakers in our homes, and now many mobile apps and operating systems use them. Additionally, certain technology in cars, as well as in our personal inboxes and in retail, education, healthcare and telecommunications environments, can be operated all by the sound of our voices.
Voice assistance will help manage email without you going in to see for yourself. It will give accessibility and support to your busy life, but it will also be multilingual and actionable. It has the ability to read attachments, reply, delete or save for later, all of which promise to help users multitask. Additionally, a pro tip for creating new email campaigns this year is to be cautious about the use of emojis. For example, if your subject line reads “Happy Valentine’s Day! 😍 💕 😘”, your voice assistant will read out all of the emoji actions. Take time in considering what emojis to include when you create your new email campaigns for 2020.
5. Artificial Intelligence
As we touched on above, AI is growing in intelligence and making email marketing more efficient and easier to implement for all businesses. Aside from its ability to scale and automate almost everything you’re doing, its ability to personalize content at the right time for every individual nourishes its sustainability. It will improve content and personalization, compliance, send-time optimization, sales processes, revenue gains and product recommendations, and will make marketing teams more effective and efficient. With the help of AI, a process that would normally take days or weeks can be exponentially slimmed.
Not only are segmentation and messaging are starting to fall to machines, algorithms are now managing our inboxes. Mailbox providers are prioritizing our emails for us, choosing which ones we see first — and, of course, will see an impact from the digital voice assistants.
With the shifting technology landscape we live in today, email marketing is constantly adjusting, adapting and advancing. Given the traction that email marketing has on every consumer, it’s vital for both B2B and B2C organizations to stay on top of their email marketing strategy heading into the next decade. Advancements in every aspect of the channel will allow marketers to be more impactful in their iterations and more accurate in their targeting, and promises to bring more satisfaction and a sense of delight to every inbox.
Could your brand use some expert help with its email marketing campaigns? At The Brandon Agency, our fully integrated marketing firm boasts a team of seasoned specialists who can help increase the effectiveness of your email marketing efforts and much more — including web design, brand strategy, creative, interactive, social media, analytics, conversion rate optimization and SEO — all in one place. To get started with help ranging from a single campaign analysis to a comprehensive strategy tailored to boost the performance of all of your marketing campaigns, contact us today.