Trends 2021 - Here's what's happening in email marketingThese are the topics you should take a closer look at
In 2021, email is and will remain one of the most important marketing tools. In German-speaking countries alone, 95 percent of companies used email marketing to reach customers and prospects in 2020, according to email marketing benchmarks.
Just because it’s a technology that’s been around for over four decades, however, doesn’t mean nothing is happening. Requirements, technologies, user behavior and design, all of these things are subject to constant change and so there is always something new in email marketing too. Some trends should already be familiar to you, as they are long-term developments, while others are probably more subject to the fast-moving spirit of the times. We have summarized the most important trends in email marketing 2021 for you here.
To ensure that a company’s message does not get lost in the large number of mails that most of us receive every day, minimum standards such as personalization have long been mandatory. But if you really want to stand out from the crowd, it has to be something more. One option is hyper-personalization. In this case, the customer receives newsletters that are tailored to their individual interests and tastes, both in terms of content and design. In the best case, the individual approach goes beyond the mailing itself, as the recipient is forwarded from the newsletter to a landing page that is also customized for him and corresponds to his interests.
Hyperpersonalization does not have to be limited to newsletters and the website. There are now collaborative solutions between email and postal service providers (such as AGNITAS and Deutsche Post) that allow online and print campaigns to be linked, adding programmatic print to digital channels. Highly personalized and cross-channel campaigns put the customer even more in the center and, through the haptic medium, make it possible to reach people who pay little attention to digital offers.
In addition to the obligatory salutation and the sender, images, colors, personal text sections, and coupons and discounts tailored to the recipient are particularly suitable for hyper-personalization.
When implementing hyperpersonalization, however, it must be borne in mind that a certain amount of effort is involved, which, depending on the scope, goes beyond the possibilities of automation and may require the use of an AI.
Whether hyperpersonalization will become established in the long term remains to be seen. Data protection will certainly have something to say about it. Not every customer is willing to disclose more data than necessary. In addition, one-time purchases intended as gifts can distort customer profiles.
Artificial Intelligence and Predictive Analytics
The use of AI in email marketing has been talked about for the last few years. It is a trend that is still highly topical, but a step that only a few larger companies have actually taken so far. The main reason for this is the initially high cost of creating and training AI. In addition, corresponding experts are required, who are more likely to be based in development or data analysis than in classic email marketing.
However, the advantages of intelligent and predictable applications cannot be dismissed. Whether it’s the right time to send for each individual recipient or the subject line. Ideally, it is already possible to predict which cover image or subject line will be better received by the respective target group.
However, it is likely that sooner or later email marketing will become more customized and intelligent. With increasing relevance, there will certainly be standardized solutions for AI as well, which will lower the barriers to entry. More intelligent email marketing will then be accessible to a broader mass.
Data protection and privacy
The trend toward the use of artificial intelligence, which naturally requires a lot of data for corresponding predictions, is countered by another trend – data protection. For some, this is more of an ongoing issue than a trend. As we all know, before data can be collected, the consent of the data owner is required before it can be used for advertising purposes. At the latest since the cookie banners, which have to be agreed to every time, everyone should be aware of this.
The obligation to document and provide information should also not be forgotten, in order to be able to provide information and delete data in the event of corresponding inquiries. When collecting personal data, the settings must always be as restrictive as possible, true to the motto “Privacy by Default”. As a matter of principle, personal data may only ever be transmitted after consent has been obtained. Marketers are thus required to handle user data as transparently and responsibly as possible in order to avoid getting into legal trouble.
Dynamic and interactive content
What moves attracts our attention – that’s why videos have become very popular in marketing. Unfortunately, there is no adequate solution for videos in newsletters yet. But there are other ways to bring movement into the newsletter. This can be done with gifs or animated PNGs, for example, in the form of countdowns.
In addition to motion, interactive content in the newsletter can also generate increased interest. Behind this is the basic idea of gamification. In this case, playful elements are inserted into the newsletter that encourage the reader to participate. It becomes even more interesting if there is an additional incentive such as a coupon or a small prize.
Examples of interactive content can be animated buttons and calls to action. However, surveys that can be carried out directly in the newsletter are also possible. Particularly great product presentations create rollover effects as well as interactive image and product carousels that the recipient can operate.
With interactive content, it must be noted that not every inbox supports it.
More personal communication and customer lifecycle
The pandemic-related contact restrictions have led to a change in our communication, especially in the business environment. Where previously we might have met with customers for a business lunch, the personal and more binding contacts are denied for the time being. Nevertheless, personal contact and a certain emotional closeness are essential in order to remain in the customer’s memory.
So how can you succeed in creating closeness despite distance? Pure advertising and sales emails tend to be counterproductive. The goal should rather be a consistent user experience that puts the customer at the center and ultimately ensures a positive and long customer journey.
The prerequisite for this is to understand the customer and know their needs. This can only be achieved by honestly and empathetically supporting the customer with products and services that offer them real added value.
What does this mean in concrete terms?
- Send mails that you yourself would be happy about.
- As the saying goes “the bait must taste good to the fish and not to the angler”. Therefore, get to know your target group and see what they “like”, even if it does not correspond to their own preference.
- Formulate a clear expectation in your mailings and fulfill it.
- Be sure to maintain a positive attitude in your mailings and respond with friendliness, clarity and attention to detail.
- Respond to your customers as quickly as possible and if it does take a little longer, give feedback. The customer usually understands this.
More security in the inbox with BIMI
The pandemic has also made itself felt in the email inbox of many. For example, the volume of e-mails sent in 2020 has increased significantly. Unfortunately, this has also increased the volume of spam and phishing. This is where the increasing establishment of the BIMI standard alongside the usual encryption methods comes in just at the right time. BIMI offers the recipient the clear advantage of being able to determine immediately whether an e-mail actually originates from the supposed sender, since the brand logo is included in the mailbox for every authorized e-mail. If this does not happen, the recipient can assume that it is a phishing mail.
BIMI (Brand Indicators for Message Identification) is an initiative of the most important e-mail clients to provide more security. BIMI is based on the three existing email authentication standards SPF, DKIM and DMARC. If you want to use BIMI, you must have already implemented these standards.
BIMI not only ensures security, but also has two positive side effects: The brand logo in the inbox has an additional advertising effect, especially at the moment because not so many companies are using BIMI yet. In addition, BIMI has a positive effect on reputation, as you are classified as a trustworthy sender by the providers by using the standard.
Promoting inclusion with barrier-free access
Barrier-free access is not only necessary for buildings, but also for digital offerings. Websites now often have integrated functions that enable people with impaired vision to use them. These possibilities should not be neglected in e-mail marketing either.
Already when creating an e-mail, some points can be taken into account that enable people with impairments to perceive your content. For example, ensure strong contrasts and enough space between individual lines and elements to make reading easier. In addition, links and buttons should be easily recognizable.
People who are completely blind often use screen readers. This software captures the contents of the screen and reads them to the user. To support this use, the content must be perceived as text. For content that is only available as graphics in HTML newsletters, only the alt text provides information about what is perceived by non-impaired people. So, unless you are just using a mood image, it makes sense to include a detailed description of the image content.
Nor should we forget people whose hearing is impaired. The trend toward more and more videos makes it difficult for this group of people to grasp the acaustic content. So ideally, when videos are used for content, they should also work without sound or contain subtitles.
Depending on the target group, however, accessibility can also refer to the language style. Convoluted sentences and foreign words should therefore be avoided. Some municipalities are setting an example here by offering information in simple language in order to provide access to as many citizens as possible.
Have we forgotten another important trend for e-mail marketing in 2021? You are welcome to write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will add it.