and email as a content conduit remain popular for marketers.
E-newsletters rank as the No. 2 content type for B2B (87%) and B2C (76%), according to CMI 2021 research. (That’s a one-position jump for B2C marketers and the same as B2B marketers in 2020.)
The same research reveals 87% of B2B and 76% of B2C marketers use email as an organic contribution vehicle.
Though email has been a prevalent channel for a long time that doesn’t mean content marketers shouldn’t think about what they’re doing, what they should keep doing, and what they should consider for the future.
I picked the brains of email marketing experts on what they see as the key email marketing trends for the next year. Here is some of what they had to say.
Customizing your content continues to be a way to show you care about your audience. As Jeanne Jennings, founder and chief strategist of Email Optimization Shop, says, “This is the year that marketers finally embrace smart, sophisticated customization and personalization. This boosts relevance, which is key to getting opens, clicks, and conversions.”
Example: Bulb Energy sends emails that summarize the customer’s impact by using renewable electric and green gas. It extrapolates that data with fun illustrations, such as how the savings in carbon dioxide were equivalent to the weight of a dinosaur breed. Such emails impart a personalized experience to the subscriber and make them look forward to hearing from you.
Beata Linz, a brand, digital, and email marketing consultant, says you should no longer send direct sales promotion emails, like “Jog pants you should wear at home.” Pure product offers sound disconnected. Instead, talk to your customer as if they were a friend sitting across from you.
Don’t stick to the on-paper benefits. Talk about how the product goes beyond functional benefits. Talk about how it will change their lives. Talk about how it has been made with love and care. Finding meaning starts with brand strategy, and results in meaningful content, including emails that touch the heart, stimulate the brains, excite, and engage.
Example: Simple, a developer and operator of online banking sites, sends valuable content to the subscribers instead of a sales pitch. In this example, they ask the subscriber to set a money intention for 2021 and their choice delivers them to related content to help them achieve it.
Magan Le, content marketing manager at Litmus, says all emails, including automated ones, should adjust for tone given that consumers are still in a vulnerable and sensitive state thanks to the pandemic. This is the only way to build genuine connections.
Kath Pay, author, CEO, and founder of Holistic Email Marketing, says not being empathetic and genuine will leave your brand behind given the volume of content competition.
Example: In this email, self-care product brand Blume promotes a beautiful interactive content opportunity while sharing the message about people supporting each other. Recipients could write a self-care tip and Blume would print and share it in an upcoming shipment box.
Mark Robbins, software engineering lead manager technical staff (LMTS) at Salesforce, expects to see more people using AMP for email alongside interactive HTML for a better interactive strategy. He believes this will lead to a wider reach, a better experience, and better results.
Example: My company Email Uplers uses AMP technology to achieve these sliders, accordions, subscription form, and contact form.
Chad White, head of research for Oracle Marketing, consultant, and author of Email Marketing Rules, suggests brands of all kinds are bound to make greater use of AI and machine learning) for constructing emails.
AI-powered content recommendations and send time optimization (STO) can help you deliver emails quicker and better. Several experts I interviewed think augmented reality will change the game with virtual storefronts, trials, and in-mail purchasing experiences.
Natalie Rockall, email marketing consultant at Eleven11 Digital Limited, sees more images and less text in emails for many industries, especially travel and hospitality.
Interactive emails also are more likely with the growing use of kinetic email code to add dynamic content, including email carousels, interaction, and animation.
Gregory Zakowicz, marketing strategist and director of content of Omnisend, provides statistical proof for automated emails being the future for e-commerce brands. He told me that in 2020, automated emails formed only 2% of all emails sent, but attracted 29% of all email orders. He expects more welcome messages, cart abandonment messages, and product abandonment messages will be automated for the best results.
Darrell Alfonso, global marketing operations manager at Amazon Web Services, makes a keen observation about data privacy – GDPR was just the beginning. He expects email providers themselves to implement even stricter consent and opt-in policies. It would be wise to take steps now to figure out the best way to motivate your audience to eagerly opt-in to receive your content.
2021 is not only the year of revolutionary email marketing but also of email marketers. The paradigm change in the quantity and quality of email means email marketing experts and specialists should be key members of any marketing team, according to Kim Greenop-Gadsby, marketing automation specialist at Proact IT Group AB.
For a richer perspective on these trends, check out the insight from 29 experts in this infographic:
What do you see ahead for email in 2021? What has changed? What will change? And what will stay the same? Share in the comments.