Can you believe that email marketing is almost 50 years old? Throughout the decades there has been no shortage of email marketing trends and forecasts.

With each year, a new prediction pops up accompanied by its own set of trends. So much so, it’s become quite tricky for email marketers to develop the most useful, unique and, most importantly, engaging email marketing strategy. 

“There is no formula for the perfect email marketing campaign, but authentic and honest messaging always works.” – EmailOut

Each email marketer has their own one-of-a-kind outlook as well as an explicit approach of fusing together traditional email marketing skills with the continually progressing technology. However, with each new decade, email marketing techniques that have been used in the past might not be as effective and efficient as they have been. With that being said, and the fact that the number of email users worldwide is set to grow to 4.48 billion in 2024, it’s important for businesses to continuously improve and adapt to the changing email marketing environment. By keeping up-to-date with the latest email marketing trends, email marketers will pretty easily be able to adjust their email marketing strategies accordingly.

In this article, we’ll cover the following email marketing trends for 2020:

  1. The Skinny: Responsive email design
  2. The Dark Mode: Email marketing campaigns
  3. The Minimalist Approach: Better email accessibility
  4. The Alliance: Email marketing, social media and user-generated content (UGC)
  5. The Visuals: Videos, graphics, imagery and animations
  6. The Fun: Gamification and interactivity
  7. The Automation: Highly personalised automated emails
  8. The Story: Focus on brand storytelling 
  9. The Control: Giving subscribers more control
  10. The Voice: Email campaigns and voice interfaces compatibility

Ready to dive in?

The past decades have brought a lot of new developments – from compliance, new legislative changes and security standards (remember BIMI?) to the rise of AMP (accelerated mobile pages) for email and the increasing popularity of ‘dark mode’. 

Each one of these affected businesses in different ways. Moreover, these changes – and the ones yet to come – have the potential to impact your email program greatly. As email marketers, mastering both the changing technology landscape as well as adjusting, adapting and advancing our email marketing strategy by keeping up-to-date with the most relevant email marketing trends, is essential in securing the bright future of your business.

With that in mind, here is a summary of 2020 email marketing trends for marketers that you should not only be aware of but also implement within your email marketing strategy in order to be competitive in the ever-changing email marketing world.

Responsive Email Design: Optimising Emails For Mobile Screens

According to stats, over 43% of all emails sent out in 2019 have been opened on a mobile device (smartphone or tablet). Furthermore, the number of mobile phone users is predicted to reach 7.33 billion in 2023. Thus mobile compatibility is an absolute must for having a successful email campaign.

Creating responsive mobile-friendly email campaigns is not an innovative design approach. It has been around for years and most ESPs – like EmailOut – offer this feature (for free) to all its clients.

Designing emails for the small screen – or ‘The Skinny’ as we like to call it – has a specific set of rules that not only improve deliverability but also help guide recipients towards your key CTAs. 

Find out more about responsive email design here >>

Ah, whilst you are crafting the perfect email campaign for mobile screens, remember that there’s a lot more to it than just a mobile-friendly email layout. Don’t go into panic mode though. We have the most comprehensive email design best practices guide that will turn your emails from good to great.

Email Marketing Campaigns and ‘Dark Mode’

Whilst crafting your awesome and responsive mobile-friendly email, don’t forget to consider the dark mode. According to Mashable, using dark mode can improve the battery life of a lot of mobile devices. Studies have shown that 80% of people use their mobile device for more than 2h per day with another 67% using more than two devices simultaneously, it’s no surprise that dark mode should be considered when designing your email campaigns.

Adjusting your email message for dark mode can be as simple as partially (or fully) changing the background colour of your email campaign layout. However, be certain that your logo, imagery, copy font colour, CTAs, hyperlinks, etc. are all taken into account when making changes. 

Here is an example from our awesome friends at Litmus – 

In order to make things easier, we’ve compiled a list of email clients to examine the impact dark mode has on regular emails which do not include any dark mode specified code (as of November 2019) – 

1) Gmail app for Android – partial colour invert
2) Gmail app  for iOS – full-colour invert
3) Outlook for Android – partial colour invert
4) Outlook for iOS – partial colour invert
5) iOS Mail – no colour changes
6) Apple Mail – no colour changes
7) Outlook 2019 for macOS – partial colour invert
8) Outlook 2019 for Windows – full-colour invert
9) – partial colour invert

The various benefits dark mode has for users is what prompts them to turn the feature on. As such, exploring the idea of a beautifully, slightly moody (due to the dark theme) email campaign design is an email marketing trend marketers should definitely consider.

Better Email Accessibility With Minimalistic Layouts

Digital marketing allows the potential for new competitors to appear quickly within your industry, communicate and ultimately catch the eye of your audience making it imperative that you learn how to stand out from the crowd with your email campaigns.

However, bright colourful imagery, banners shouting out about discounts, sales and special offers as well as a cluttered email copy with tons of CTAs and too much text are not always the way to go. 

With recipients’ inboxes being bombarded with hundreds of promotional emails, email marketers will definitely have a better chance of attracting attention and standing out with a more simplistic and minimalist email layout with a smart, clear message. Especially, for people with visual and hearing impairments.

Of course, there is no requirement to go to extremes and only rely on plain text emails. Simply design your email campaigns around a more clean and uncomplicated layout. Tons of images, too many colourful CTAs, many different fonts and way too much text can create confusion. That’s definitely something you don’t want. Instead, implement a minimalist approach. It’ll make your email campaign easily readable, more efficient and also optimise email load time. After all, peoples’ attention span is low and you only have seconds to hook them and then reel them in.

Going with simplicity doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your creativity. So, why don’t you open a free account with EmailOut and let your creative juices flow?

The Alliance of Email Marketing, Social Media & User-Generated Content

Social media usage is one of the most popular online activities. According to stats, in 2019 an estimated 2.95 billion people were using social media, with projections of this number increasing to almost 3.43 billion in 2023. This alone is proof that utilising social media as a way of reaching out to potential customers is a win. However, according to DMA’s research, 73% of consumers state that email is their preferred marketing channel. 

With that in mind, cross-channel integration  – combining your email marketing with social media – is one of the email marketing trends you as a marketer, should certainly consider implementing within your strategy. It will not only improve your brand awareness and help you build your audience, but also increase engagement and improve loyalty.

Simply put, add social media buttons into your email campaigns and give devoted recipients the option to share your awesome and cool email offer. However, there’s more to this email marketing trend than just adding social media buttons and links to your email’s header or footer. 

To have a successful and fully integrated email campaign, you should also take advantage of user-generated content (UGC). By adding UGC to your marketing emails (such as positive reviews, customers’ social media posts about your brand, customer photos with your products or them using your services, testimonials, etc.), you will encourage more sales via social proofing. Also, by adding authentic customers’ feedback, you give more legitimacy to your brand. All in all, stats from a research point out that 82% of consumers consider UGC extremely valuable and 70% of all consumers that took part in the research state they will look at reviews or ratings before making any purchasing decisions. Take advantage of this.

Eye-catching Emails With Animations, Imagery & Videos 

Statistics show that by simply adding the word ‘video’ to your email subject line can increase open rates by up to 19% and your CTR could increase by up to 50%. Those are certainly very impressive numbers. Everyone loves video. 

However, embedding video in your emails can be a real pain and there is no way to be sure it’ll display correctly. Thus, the easiest workaround is to cheat. You simply take a still from your video, put a play button on it and then hyperlink the image. When recipients click on it they’ll be redirected to your landing page or your video on social. Oh, if you’re still worried about embedding issues, you can simply use GIFs or animated PNGs (APNGs) instead.

How to add video to your emails? >>>

Video is not the only asset you can implement. You can also add any type of animation, graphics, as well as imagery, that will help you make your marketing emails more engaging and also fun.

Currently, in nearly all email designs, images are a ‘must-have’ in order to support the message marketers are conveying. However, instead of using 2D graphics, why not switch to 3D ones that can elevate your email and give your campaign a completely new and fresh twist.

Here is a cool example of mixing 2D typography and 3D graphics from our friends at Designmodo – 

On the other hand, if 3D graphics are not exactly to your taste you can take a different path with another email marketing trend – isometric images. 

Isometric illustrations use a technique known as isometric projection. With this method, you visually represent three-dimensional objects in two-dimensions. 

Take a look at this example from Lyft –

The use of isometric images gives email marketers the opportunity to implement a clean and interesting design to their email campaigns as well as advertise their products/services in an engaging and creative way. 

Gamification In Email Campaigns

Gamification can not only be used as a technique to build email lists from scratch but also as a way to ‘seduce’ people to interact with your email content.

There are two ways to approach gamification and interactivity – 

1) you can implement interactive content with gamification elements directly in your emails by adding quizzes, puzzles, wheel-of-fortune to win prizes, etc.

2) you can add interactive content to your email campaign that will lead the recipient from your email and to a landing page or a social media-hosted post with a gamification element such as a sweepstake or a competition.

By implementing this email marketing trend to your strategy, you will not only create some fun for your audience but also, with 93% of marketers stating that interactive content is a very useful tool, you will increase your engagement rate too.

Highly Personalised Automated Emails

Automation is not always a good thing. Actually, if you go about it the wrong way it can do more harm than good. After all, you can’t really implement a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, can you? You need to think about your customers and what they are interested in. You need to show them you know who they are and make them feel like a friend. Cue, personalisation.

Personalising your marketing emails and, consequently, your automated messages after that initial contact is not just about knowing someone’s name and using it in your email. Albeit, you should obviously do that, it’s about understanding what makes your recipients tick, what their behaviours are, what are they most interested in and when it’d be the perfect time to email them.  

Once you have all that information at hand, you can easily craft the perfect automated email series that follow an easy and simple set of rules (known as triggers). Also, with the rise of AI and machine learning, delivering highly personalised automated emails to your subscribers will become easier.

Personalised automated emails will lead to a boost in open and click-through rates as well as an increased return-on-investment. Are you ready to start with your email automation? Open a free EmailOut account with us and get creative.

The Utilisation Of Brand Storytelling

In today’s business environment, brands can no longer afford to be faceless organisations. In order to flourish, businesses must focus on truly connecting with their target audience, poke at their curiosity and engage with them. Enter,  brand storytelling. It’s an email marketing trend that’s been building up momentum in the marketing world and with a valid reason.

The definition. Brand storytelling is “the use of a narrative to connect your brand to your customers with the focus of linking what you stand for to the values you share with your customers.”

According to an article by the NYT, published back in 2012, stories stimulate brain activity which leads to getting a person’s attention. With the tons of overly-shiny and flashy ads, today’s customer base is looking for a brand that is more genuine; and, has real people standing behind it. Thus, humanising your brand – through the power of brand storytelling – is the way to go if your business’s goal is to achieve more sales; as well as, reel in more subscribers and increase engagement. After all, stats point out that stories have an immense impact on people’s perception since they are 22 times more memorable than facts. 

Ah, and let’s not forget that brand storytelling can also help you establish an emotional connection with your subscribers’ base, build brand authenticity, influence customer’s behaviour and hold their attention.

Why should this email marketing trend matter? The best way to increase sales as well as attract customers is not by pushing them towards your products/services. Instead, marketers should focus their efforts on telling people why their business exists. Tell your story, be honest and explain your values. Once you do it, you will have customers that share those same views and values engaging with your brand in no time.

Subscribers Have The Power

Reports and stats show that 69% of internet users want more control over the frequency of emails they receive. Sadly, only 10% of marketers state they meet such expectations.

With that in mind, as email marketers, we must ensure that we’re working towards giving our subscribers what they want – more control. For example, when a person subscribes to your email list, you can send them a welcome email (which is a ‘must-have’ onboarding email) offering them the option to choose not only what type of emails they want to get, but also the frequency – once a week, once a month, etc.

A subscriber that’s happy with both your email content and their frequency, is one that will stick around for a long time. Ultimately, happy subscribers lead to higher engagement rates as well as increases in conversion rates.

Email Marketing & Voice Interface Compatibility

The use of in-home devices such as Amazon Echo (powered by Alexa) and Google Home; as well as, voice assistants such as Siri, Google Assistant, Cortana and Bixby, have become increasingly popular. Stats point out that approximately 55% of the US population will have some sort of a voice-activated smart device like Amazon Echo or Google Home installed by 2022.  

With this in mind, and the fact more people are starting to check their emails via such voice interfaces, ensuring your email campaigns are compatible with these voice recognition systems is essential. Especially, if you want to be ahead of your competition.

Final Thoughts

It doesn’t matter if you are an email marketing veteran or a newbie who’s just starting out with email marketing. If you’re holding on to old marketing strategies and not evolving with the constantly improving these email marketing trends, as well as the changing technology landscape, you risk falling behind and losing the momentum you’ve already gained. Not to mention all those delicious sales you’ve been working so hard towards.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that email marketing trends shift. What once was working, might not work now or next year. Bottom line, not only is the email marketing landscape changing, but also consumers’ needs. Of course, predicting the future is not an easy task. But, the future of email is certainly bright. By implementing some or all of the email marketing trends we’ve listed here will ensure that your campaigns are fresh, focused and financially rewarding.

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