Email may not get as much love as channels like social media, but it remains perhaps the most important communication tool for marketers. That’s especially true when you consider that estimates indicate there will be more than 4 billion users by 2023.
But the only way for email marketing to be effective is to stay on top of the trends. That enables you to actually reach and connect with your audience. Here are six email marketing trends you should pay close attention to.
1. It’s all about artificial intelligence.
Considering that AI has completely changed the business world, this shouldn’t be all that shocking. In fact, one recent survey found that 85% of marketers are already using artificial intelligence. They believe the technology has the power to drive double-digit growth within the next two years.
Right now, AI handles a variety of sales and marketing tasks. This includes segmenting leads and customers, engaging and qualifying leads, creating more personalized recommendations, and predicting customer actions. When it comes to email specifically, AI can do everything from generating more engaging subject lines to automating optimized content. That can boost engagement rates, along with AI’s ability to determine the best times to send email campaigns. AI can also customize email promotions and fine-tune your retargeting strategy, decreasing your cart abandonment rate.
2. Interactive content will continue to rise.
“I’m a firm believer in interactive content and I’m predicting it will continue to take off in 2019,” writes Kyle Henderick, senior director of client services at Yes Marketing. “Emails that contain games, quizzes, image carousels or simply ‘fun’’ clickability (my word for 2019) allow users to interact with the brand without leaving the email itself.” Other examples of interactive elements are clickable hotspots, navigational anchor tags, live social media feeds, and videos.
“The more brands allow subscribers to engage within emails in new ways — whether it’s a personality quiz or the ability to book hotels without leaving email — the more engaged and ready to purchase subscribers will be with the brand,” adds Henderick.
Moreover, embracing “interactive content can help boost sales or simply educate and entertain, as well as increase open rates.”
3. Rise of the chatbots.
Did you know that by 2021, it’s predicted there’ll be nearly 2.5 billion mobile messaging app users? Clearly, instant messaging is a trend that isn’t going away anytime soon. But how will that impact your email marketing efforts?
There’s more than enough room for both chatbots and email to co-exist. One example is marketing platform Drift. The company has replaced traditional web forms with chatbots that are better equipped to initiate conversations and obtain email addresses. Another example would be marketers using both chat and email to communicate with subscribers so they can stay connected across multiple channels.
However, before going all-in on this strategy, make sure chatbots are the right communication method for your audience.
4. Continue to think mobile-first.
The mobile revolution has been in full swing for several years. I’m still surprised, however, at how many marketers still haven’t completely embraced a mobile-first mentality when it comes to email marketing. This is even more mind-boggling when you consider that 61.9% of email opens occurred on mobile.
If you haven’t done so yet, it’s time to make sure your emails are mobile-friendly. The best place to get started is with the design of your emails. First, keep messages less than 102KB in size, and use single-column layouts. Utilize the subject line so the recipient knows why you’re emailing — and even who you are. And perhaps easiest of all, segment your messages according to users’ time zones so you’re emailing at a time when they’re likely to receive your message.
5. Tap into the power of voice.
Thanks to voice assistants like Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri, it should come as no surprise that voice technology is becoming increasingly popular. While we’re still in the early stages of using voice technology to our advantage, there are a couple of ways marketers can prepare. For starters, Will Devlin suggests marketers need to create more conversational messages and determine which words to emphasize and which tone to use — including whether to use a feminine or masculine voice.
Devlin also suggests that marketers rely on a single call to action and retain important messages within the text to prevent confusion. “Avoid embedding key messages in images or infographics as screen readers won’t recognize them, and users will miss important information. Instead, keep your important messages in the HTML, where they are easy to find,” he adds.
6. Data privacy needs to be top of mind.
Cybersecurity needs to be a top concern for both marketers and their audience members. After all, 91% of all cyberattacks are a result of phishing emails, and 92% of malware is delivered by email. What’s more, in 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect in Europe, and California introduces a similar law in January 2020.
If you want to build trust with your audience members, you need to take their security seriously. The most obvious place to start is making sure that you follow cybersecurity best practices. However, you should also have a stricter subscription process, such as double opt-outs. Explain to email subscribers what data you’re collecting and how you’ll use it.
Whether you want to nurture leads, increase open rates, or build genuine connections with your audience, email can be the best way to achieve those goals. If you’re relying on the same strategies you used several years ago, you can be certain that your messages will be deleted. With a little preparation, however, you can prevent that from happening.
Editor In Chief at ReadWrite
Brad is the editor overseeing contributed content at ReadWrite.com. He previously worked as an editor at PayPal and Crunchbase. You can reach him at brad at readwrite.com.