Holiday promotions are now behind us, and many are now implementing their email marketing strategies for the year ahead. To be successful in this increasingly competitive space, you must identify the trends as they happen, and plan creative email campaigns to capture the attention of your audience.
Look towards the innovators for a sign of things to come. Email marketing is heading in a number of fairly predictable directions, and identifying these early helps you to stay ahead of the game.
The word cloud from a survey by Econsultancy identifies some of the trends we’re seeing. The information was pulled from Econsultancy’s marketing audience, answering “Looking ahead five years, what do you think the single biggest change to email marketing will be?”
There’s a lot of stuff to discuss there. We’ll stick to the highlights, though, and focus on how you can take action on the upcoming changes.
“Batch and blast” email marketing will become less effective
“Batch and blast” refers to sending an identical email to every subscriber on your list. The most intelligent email marketers ditched this technique years ago, but for many in-house marketing departments, it’s still how things are done. In the year ahead, more small-time email marketers will try their hand at segmentation. Email service providers make segmentation easier by the day, and there’s no doubt of its effectiveness.
Numerous studies have been carried out signalling that segmentation and/or personalization would be top marketing objectives for 2016. Econsultancy and Adestra’s Email Marketing Industry Census report shows that 78 percent of respondents expect all email communications to be personalized within five years.
Segmentation is great for subscribers, too. With volumes of emails received continually increasing, subscribers must be pickier about what they read. With inboxes filling up faster and faster, the culling process must step up.
Email inboxes will fill up faster and faster
You’ll have noticed that the volume of emails you receive will have steadily increased ever since you first got an email address. And there’s little doubt that this trend will only continue. The Radicati Group’s Email Statistics Report, 2014 – 2018 states that you’re going to receive 7% more email in 2016 than in 2015.
This presents a serious issue for subscribers, which consequently means a serious issue for us, the email marketers. Subscribers now have to do more than ever to control their inboxes, including more ruthless culling.
Here’s how to make sure you content gets read.
- Marketers must continue to be creative and original to maintain high open and click-through rates. Segmentation certainly helps, but it’s also essential to deliver quality content worthy of your subscribers’ time.
- Simply avoiding unsubscribes is inadequate. Email clients are becoming more and more sophisticated by the day. You need to ensure your subscribers engage with your email; otherwise, it could easily end up being filtered to junk.
Mobile will continue to grow
Already, over half of all emails are opened from a mobile device, and that proportion will only increase.
This trend has several implications for marketers:
- Use a “responsive” or “mobile-friendly” design to ensure optimal display regardless of device.
- Test your emails on numerous device prior to sending.
- Shorter emails tend to perform better
- Emails with small file sizes tend to perform better.
- Simple, minimalistic designs have better success rates.
Emails will have moving elements
Videos, gifs and other dynamic objects will be used more frequently in emails. When used effectively, these moving objects grab subscribers’ attention and encourage them to click through.
A good example of this is a countdown timer. The image below is an example provided by an email design company Email Monks. When the email is opened, the clock actively counts down in front of the reader.
Some marketers make frequent use of such techniques, and have shown that they can increase email click-through rates by well over 100%
One thing to remember; ensure the animated object is tied to your call to action, and consistent with the overall objective of the message.
Social media and email will become more interlinked
Both email and social media have their place in today’s marketing landscape, and they work together well to maximize your reach. Social media is ideal for helping to build your email list, while your emails can be enriched with live social media content.
Embedding social feeds in emails is one of the more advanced techniques used, and we expect this to become more widespread as the year progresses. The emails below show live Facebook content being embedded within an email. The content of the email updates automatically with new posts from the Facebook page.
A new app will claim it will kill email
Every year for the past decade, without exception, a new app has claim to be the end of email. Facebook’s messenger service is one example.
Emails simply won’t die, though. We all still use it daily, and will continue to do so. Slack co-founder Stewart Butterfield described email as “the cockroach of the internet.”
It’s highly doubtful that anything new in 2016 will ‘displace’ email. It’s not going anywhere. As long as ROI remains high, it will continue to be a popular method of marketing. The chart below really puts things in perspective.
What are your thoughts about the outlook of email marketing in 2016? Do you think marketing via email will become more difficult? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.