We’ve seen some major changes in email marketing, especially in recent years. There are a few main contributing factors. First, COVID has played a big role in the increase of emails we’re experiencing, due to the need for communication regarding safety protocols, as well as promotional emails pushing quick sales to offset months of decreasing revenue. We’ll dive deeper into why more email isn’t the right answer, and why brands still insist on this approach. We’re also seeing new technology like AMP for Email emerge, which will fundamentally change the way businesses approach email marketing as they aim to better stand out in customers’ inboxes that are now overwhelmingly saturated.
In this article I’ll review five main trends in email marketing we expect to see, and whether or not you should follow them:
- More email
- Dark mode email
- Interactive and dynamic emails
- More collaboration between departments
- Better personalization
While more emails, texts, and push notifications is what we expect to see in 2021, according to Forrester research, we don’t recommend this. A study that Dyspatch conducted actually shows that more emails results in more unsubscribes. They found that 60% think their inboxes get flooded by email, and 46% will unsubscribe because of it. Yet, somehow, “we need to send more emails” is what every marketing executive continues to say.
In fact, Later, a visual social scheduling tool, reduced the frequency of their emails from 2 times per week to just once a week, and they increased open rates by 74%, increased click through rates by 94%, and lead-to-sign-up conversion rate by 75%. They also made improvements to their design, but this clearly demonstrates that more does not equal more. It’s about quality, and that’s what brands should focus on. Ensure that what you are sending to your audience is something that they are interested in, and not just filler content that you’re using to maintain a certain newsletter frequency. If you are currently sending two newsletters a week, try cutting that in half and giving your design and content a refresh. There are some great newsletter tips here.
Dark Mode Email
Dark mode email is something that marketers are becoming more aware of in recent years. Dark mode is a setting that displays text, graphic, and images on a dark background, and it’s said to be easier for the brain to process at night time or when in a dark environment. The high contrast of a bright white screen when you’re in a dark room can strain the eyes and cause irritation or headaches. More and more digital device users are making the switch to dark mode permanently though, making it the setting during day time as well. Some users will change their computer browser to dark mode, and some may change their email settings, or both.
A staggering 91.8% of users use some form of dark mode on their smartphone. So why are marketers only beginning to care about this now? Well, I’ll tell you that when researching dark mode statistics for this article, there wasn’t much data available. A big reason that marketers still don’t take dark mode seriously is likely due to the lack of information regarding how valuable investing in dark mode optimized emails would be. However, dark mode is a worthy investment, and that’s because brands like apple and android are investing in improving the dark mode experience on their devices, which confirms that this is a feature users are adopting. We’re also seeing large companies in the email space invest in dark mode features, like Litmus, who just extended their dark mode testing capabilities earlier this year. To read all about the risks that come with dark mode emails and how to avoid them, check out this blog post.
Interactive and dynamic emails
Interactivity is going to revolutionize email in the form of AMP for Email. We know this, because AMP for Email is seeing a lot more adoption and hype in recent months. Not sure what AMP for Email is? Check out this white paper on everything you need to know about AMP for Email and you’ll be well on your way to understanding the power of this new technology. For the purposes of this article, AMP for Email is a technology created by Google that allows live data to be pulled into the email, making it always up-to-date whenever the email is opened. This makes email dynamic in a way never seen before. Instead of clicking a link in the email and being redirected to a webpage, you can just see and interact with the email content itself.
So what does AMP for Email enable users to do? You guessed it, you can send a whole new level of interactive and dynamic emails. Picture emails that allow you to embed a form within the email, where the user can add a text response and submit without leaving their inbox. Or invision being able to pull only in-stock products from a sales catalogue into the email so that users don’t see out of stock products. This has happened to me so many times and I still get disappointed!
The power of interactive and dynamic emails is incredible. Brands have seen conversions increase more than 500%, and it’s no surprise. By providing this type of elevated email experience to your users, you are removing friction and improving ease and flow.
More Collaboration between Departments
No, it’s not just COVID that has caused a need for more collaboration on email production. The need for this has actually existed for a long time. This problem is one that few brands have addressed in the past, because reducing inefficiencies is not something that generally comes to mind when you think about email production. However, it is one of the biggest time-sucking tasks within an organization today. Just think about it. A marketer schedules a newsletter or promotional email to be sent, but first they need to write the copy and get it reviewed by the sales team and approved by the Head of Marketing. Then, designer must design it. Then, the marketer needs to get the design approved. Finally, they can build it in their ESP, but since they don’t know how to code, they hit a roadblock and need to get a developer to help fix a few issues with the layout. Now they’re ready to send but the test email looks a little wonky on mobile, so they need the developer’s help again to fix the code. Alas! Email sent. And even then you can’t guarantee the email looked perfect on all devices and email clients, because they all render differently. How annoying!
The need for better email collaboration and building tools is apparent. The scenario above is all too common, and as a marketer myself, have experienced it countless times. Luckily, there are tools available that aim to increase collaboration between departments and make building responsive emails that don’t break a lot easier. Dyspatch is a great example, it has all the collaboration features an organization needs, and all their templates are responsive by default so you don’t need to compromise on quality.
You’ve probably heard this one before, but honestly, it’s so important and brands are still not good at it. Yes, we know you should address someone with their first name. But what about the other forms of personalization? Someone is much more likely to engage with your email if you send them personalized products based on previous purchases, or sending them a list of products they could buy with their current number of loyalty points. This doesn’t sound easy, and it’s because it isn’t. However, it’s becoming more necessary for brands to incorporate a deeper level of personalization to stand out and more effectively engage their audience. The problem of too many emails is leading to declining engagement rates, and one way to address that is better email through better personalization. If you want to learn more about some different use cases for personalization and how to get started, this article is a good resource.
We’ve reviewed 5 pretty big trends that we expect to see in 2021. These concepts have been around for a while, but with COVID demanding communication to take place through more digital channels, we think these trends will be accelerated as creating engaging emails becomes more difficult and competitive.