By: Rithesh Raghavan
The importance of email marketing when spreading the word about a product or service cannot be overstated. Studies show that for every dollar spent on your email marketing campaign, you can get up to $44 as your ROI. This is 44 times more than other marketing channels like TV ads.
Although email marketing is richly rewarding, cracking it is by no means easy. The email landscape is dynamic. Therefore, only the most flexible marketers can enjoy the benefits of email marketing. This article covers the future of email marketing and trends you need to know about in 2020.
Why Should You Invest in Email Marketing in 2020?
Regardless of the difficulties you may be experiencing with your email campaign, you stick with it. Here are some statistics to encourage you:
- 59% of marketers get the most ROI from their email marketing campaigns
- Emails influence the decision-making process of 59% of consumers
- 49% of customers have no problems with receiving emails from their favorite brands
- 61% of customers prefer to be informed of products and services through email instead of other mediums
To get amazing results with your campaigns, you need to keep your finger on the industry pulse. Below are the top trends and predictions you need to know about for email marketing in 2020.
Accessible Content in Email
The use of voice assistants, smart speakers and smart devices to consume content online will only become more widespread in 2020 and the short-term future. A report suggests that at least 55% of the US homes will have a smart device like Echo or Google Home by 2022. Worldwide, the number of smart speaker users will hit the 250 million mark in 2020.
Savvy email marketers are positioning themselves for this shift by creating email content with accessibility in mind, including the addition of auditory CTAs. Accessible content isn’t only beneficial for smart device owners.
Users with visual impairments or other disabilities want content that resonates with them at all times, including when consuming marketing emails. Some of the elements that have made emails more accessible include:
- Semantic HTML
- HTML tables that can be interpreted by screen readers
- Alt text for images
- Bigger line spacing
- Larger font sizes
- Proper text alignment (reduction in the quantity of center-aligned text)
- Clear visual hierarchy in the email content
- Shorter content overall
Today, more brands are including aspects of user-generated content (UGC) in their emails. Some of the common approaches include requesting feedback, asking simple questions or encouraging the user to submit different types of content (including images and video).
User-generated content in emails provides an excellent means of boosting response rates in campaigns. Some of the UGC approaches can also be used to increase engagement on external landing pages. However, it is important to optimize all elements of such emails to avoid ticking off the users.
For example, if you encourage feedback by asking users to click a thumbs up (or down) icon, do not redirect them to a landing page after the action. In many cases, they will not proceed to the page. If the original goal was to get them to open that page, be up-front about it!
Interactive Email Elements
Interactive emails encourage user engagement. In 2020, more brands will use interactivity beyond the base level of entertaining readers by encouraging clicks and other forms of engagement right inside the email. Some examples of interactive email elements include surveys and polls, interactive image or product slides that can be controlled by the consumer, use of animated buttons and CTAs, use of rollover effect to highlight product offerings and more.
AI and Email Marketing
The topic of Artificial Intelligence (AI) makes marketers uncomfortable. This is especially true for marketers that are only conversant with brick-and-mortar advertising and marketing principles. The reality, however, is that AI in marketing is only used to automate parts of the process, making the journey a bit simpler.
AI is used in email marketing to find the most relevant content for current and future customers and also to ensure that the content reaches the targets at the most suitable time. AI systems work because they use past behaviors to predict future actions. Instead of shying away from AI-based marketing in 2020 and beyond, see it as an integral part of the overall marketing process.
With the proper use of AI in email marketing, you can replace the time-consuming campaign management systems while also delivering highly relevant content to your consumers. This is because AI-infused marketing can unearth more data and ensure enhanced cross-channel optimization. When your email segmentation is smarter, you will enjoy better customization, accessibility, and overall performance.
The use of AI also means that email marketing platforms are now more capable of supporting quality multivariate and A/B testing. The email landscape in 2020 will show how far automation and machine learning have come, and it will only get better!
Tons of research data exist in support of the fact that users are consuming more content through mobile than desktop and other devices. Research into email open-rates has further confirmed this trend. Your emails are more likely to be read on a mobile device than a desktop. This means that email marketers have to place more emphasis on putting mobile-first in the design of the email content.
Unfortunately, mobile optimization is not always straightforward. The HTML code behind your email determines whether it can fold into a format that is viewable on mobile or not. However, there are other ways to ensure mobile optimization such as tweaking the overall design, copy, layout and embedded images.
Although you should add all you can to encourage engagement or click-through within your email copy, you need to isolate elements that can be stripped out to ensure a better mobile experience without impacting negatively on your results.
Most marketing emails are geared towards encouraging clicks to product pages, blogs or landing pages, but is it necessary to divulge all the information at once? By saving some of your content for the next email, you can make your campaigns more mobile-friendly.
Quality over Quantity
Email marketing in 2020 is all about hitting the right spots with your marketing messages while using the fewest words possible. As the focus on accessibility and mobile-friendliness intensifies, clear designs and concise copy in all email content are now more important than ever.
More brands are increasing their copywriting and design budgets to reflect this new trend. If you do not have the budget, however, focus on simplifying your content first to improve your chances of reaping the full benefits of email marketing.
Brand Stories and Authenticity
One of the most powerful trends in email marketing today is the use of relevant content and maintaining a focus on the customer journey with every campaign. All through 2020 and beyond, email content will feature more storytelling and authentic messages than standard sales content. Regardless of your niche, there is always a way to make your marketing content more authentic.
With quality brand stories and authentic content, your business can connect better with your target audience. This will allow you to improve your relationship with them and ultimately boost engagement. Customers want to connect with your company on a personal level.
You need to avoid content that sounds generic or robotic and embrace conversational content that incorporates everyday experiences. This way, your customer will not feel like they are just another unknown user that has received a mass-blasted email but instead, attach more value to the content they read.
Here are some excellent examples of brands using storytelling infused with familiar and engaging wording to create an identity that resonates with the target audience in an email marketing campaign.
Social Media Integration
There are many social media platforms, and you can be certain that a large portion of your audience exists on several of them. Research shows that around 42% of the world’s population are on social media already, and that number will only grow in the coming years. This gives brands a way to connect with their target audience without appearing too sales-focused.
The average user relies on social media to find products and see the opinion of other people about certain brands. Many businesses are already taking advantage of this by combining social media and email marketing. For example, a fashion brand can run an email marketing campaign that includes images and Instagram profiles of people wearing their products.
This method of combining email and social media highlights the popularity of the business and proves that it is already credible. The content of the email can be further tweaked to encourage participation from the consumers, which can lead to more brand exposure and ultimately, more sales.
When businesses interact with their audience on social media, they can generate 20-40% higher revenues. Integrating social media into your email marketing campaigns is an excellent way to promote products and services, earn customer trust and get more bang for your buck overall. As more brands wake up to this trend in 2020 and beyond, the line that has existed between social media and email will be blurred.
Contrary to fears in some quarters, the improvements in technology over the last decade have positively influenced email marketing, and it will get even better. Instead of making email marketing obsolete, modern technology has further highlighted why this is not going away anytime soon.
As technological innovation continues to improve, marketers have to embrace changes actively and tweak campaign strategies to reflect new realities. The usual modes of email consumption are changing. As 2020 unfolds, you need to ensure your interaction with your email subscribers reflects these changes or risk being left in the lurch by your competition.
About the author
Rithesh Raghavan is the Director at Acodez, a Digital Agency in India and the co-founder of Acowebs, an online store for eCommerce plugins. Having a rich experience of 15+ years in Digital Marketing, Rithesh loves to write up his thoughts on the latest trends and developments in the world of IT and software development.
Featured image via Unsplash.