2020 Trends and Best Practices Email Marketing

Email Marketing
23rd, 2020
Keyhole - Digital Marketing Agency - Joe Dudeck
Joe Dudeck
President + Founder
Categories: Email Marketing
23rd, 2020
Keyhole - Digital Marketing Agency - Joe Dudeck
Joe Dudeck
President + Founder
Categories: Email Marketing
2020 Email Trends and Best Practices

This is the third of a 3-part blog series in which we explore 2020 email trends and best practices, including user-generated content, voice accessibility and artificial intelligence.

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We’ve spent the last several weeks focused on new trends in 2020 and best practices to prepare your business for success in the new decade. This week, we will wrap up our series by turning our attention to 2020 trends with email marketing.

This is the year to make sure you understand where email marketing is moving and anticipate what you need to do to future-proof your digital marketing strategy. How will business win in this ever evolving email landscape? What about those pesky prospects, customers, leads, subscribers and their behavior?

Thankfully you’re not alone. Here are some trends and useful suggestions to give you a leg-up on the competition.

Interactive Experiences

Interactivity drives engagement. 2020 will potentially be marked as a year where more emails are opened on a mobile device than a desktop. Given that two-thirds of mobile users will delete an email if it’s not optimized, taking a responsive approach is the best way to stay current. Back in the early days of email marketing, interactivity was designed to entertain the recipient. In 2020 and beyond, it will be used more functionally to promote engagement and drive action.

The installation of interactive elements is important, but embedding them directly within the email will ensure readers stay where they are, take action and learn without needing to navigate to multiple external pages. While HTML capabilities and functionality are still evolving to create a one-stop-shop experience within email, the possibility exists for development in the next five years.

Best Practice Tip

This action is two-fold. For one, ensure your email distribution service is optimized for responsive design on multiple devices. If this is not a feature that exists for you, consider investing in a distribution service that can adapt to multiple devices that your recipients are using. Some other simple features to include in emails to make them more interactive include the following:

  • Animated buttons and calls-to-actions
  • Rollover effects to showcase product offerings
  • Interactive image and product carousels controlled by the user
  • Accordion features designed to make long-form emails more compact
  • Surveys, polls and short answer responses
2020 Email Trends and Best Practices - Voice Accessibility

Voice Accessibility

We have already started to see the emergence of more “smart” devices, speakers and voice assistants. These smart devices are able to read emails to consumers. With roughly 250 million smart speakers worldwide by 2020, smart email marketers are already designing with accessibility in mind and picking up on auditory CTA’s.

The World Health Organization estimates that about 1.3 billion people live with visual impairments, 36 million of which are considered blind. This poses a unique challenge for email marketers. While accessible email may seem like a daunting task, the improvement of assistive technologies help to simplify the process greatly. According to Litmus’ Ultimate Guide to Email Accessibility, “77% of brands say accessibility is a priority— but only 8% rigidly follow accessibility best practices.”

Best Practice Tip

There are many effective ways to optimize and make voice-assisted email legibility possible.

  1. Short and Sweet — Keep your email copy concise and to-the-point. Litmus’ research suggests that the average attention span in an email is just 13.4 seconds and since the average adult reader can read between 250 and 300 words per minute, the ideal length of copy in an email is around 50 words.
  2. Real Text HTML — Designing for accessibility means pulling back on all-image email templates and using more of real text in HTML. You can do this by simply using real text HTML, creating strong visual hierarchy, avoiding long sections of center-justified text, using appropriate font sizes and line spacing, and using ADA-approved color contrasting.
  3. Accessible Code — Most voice-assistive technologies review and read code above all else. The best way to create appropriate emails is by manipulating code to work for every user. You can do this by ensuring alternative text is used for all images, ensuring HTML tables are accessible, using semantic HTML and specifying a language in HTML.

User-Generated Content

User-generated content is defined as any form of content created by the product’s end-user. According to the Nielsen Consumer Trust Index, 92% of consumers trust organic, user-generated content more than they trust traditional advertising, because brands don’t buy it. It’s unbiased and created by users because they like the offerings of a business. As a result, user-generated content is perceived as more authentic and honest. Incentivizing and motivating your end-user to contribute content via email marketing promotes authenticity and improves conversion. Content is not simply about consumption anymore, it’s all about conversation.

You may have already seen companies implementing this tactic through elements like feedback modules (thumbs up or down), simple questions/surveys, and gamification. E-commerce leader 3dcart says that 82% of consumers consider user-generated reviews extremely valuable with 70% of all consumers looking to reviews or ratings before making a purchasing decision.

Best Practice Tip

Understanding the “why” is important for consumers. While many companies gather user-generated content behind the power of the brand’s market value, many organizations use embedded interactivity (mentioned above) and feedback. Implementing interactive elements is a first step, but giving users the possibility of submitting their thoughts via video submissions, text submissions, or tags within social media campaigns is an excellent way to begin collecting genuine user-generated content. Leverage those passionate brand/company ambassadors to share real-life experiences and feedback with interested prospects.

How to Build and Maintain Your Email Marketing List
Follow along as we dig into the basics of growing your email list and maintaining an engaged subscriber base.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence is a term that seems to scare a lot of marketers, especially if you’ve spent your career in traditional forms of marketing and advertising. In reality, most AI discussions concern the automation of processes. Marketing automation is centered around providing the most relevant content at the most suitable time to a specific individual or group.

AI should be seen as the solution to a large number of your processes, rather than a terrifying technological advancement. It’s not here to replace the traditional segmentation process, but to completely transform the levels of relevancy that we are capable of providing to recipients.

According to Connext Digital, here are the top seven ways Artificial Intelligence is reshaping email marketing:

  1. Predictive Personalization — Statista found that personalized emails have higher open rates and CTRs, as consumers crave relevance to remain engaged. With AI, you can analyze your audience’s behaviors and interests to generate insights and make tailored emails for each subscriber.
  2. Smart Segmentation — Personalization means understanding that subscribers have different interests and behaviors, encompassing even email engagement. Such similarities and differences will allow you to group them into segments, which can be done dynamically through AI.
  3. Automated Workflow — AI through automation helps to identify the behaviors and events that trigger email communications, tailoring messages for the best conversion, and setting up automated campaigns for lead nurturing.
  4. Optimized Content — Subject lines, copy, and CTAs can be customized as AI analyzes your email marketing campaign history. Algorithms examine keywords, schematics, trends, and conversations to find content with high engagement. In addition, AI can also be used to come up with more than just speculative content ideas. This means that marketers can determine which piece of content is more effective by looking at facts rather than opinion.
  5. Timing and Frequency — With AI, marketers have the ability to email specific recipients at a precise moment when they are most likely to open it. With predictive analysis, you can automate send times based on past email interactions and behaviors. The frequency of emails can also be configured based on engagement history, allowing you to send more messages to more enthusiastic subscribers. The goal with both is complete optimization.
  6. Multivariate and A/B testing — These are required steps for email marketing campaigns, and with AI, marketers can create more robust tests, allowing them to recognize developments and make estimates quickly.
  7. Analytics — The data generated from email marketing campaigns can be incorporated into other broader analyses like customer engagement or prediction of potential churn.

Best Practice Tip

How you use AI is arguably more important than whether or not you choose to adopt it. Your email sign-up process provides you with plenty of user data that allows you to segment by interest, location, or demographic. With this data, you can send out a single email where blocks populate with dynamic content depending on the user that you’re sending to. People are much more likely to open, read and engage when they see tailored information at a time that is most optimal to them. Again, the main thing to remember is that AI is here to help and not hinder. Many email platforms have already been seamlessly integrating AI processes into their systems. Take the time to look into email services that support your segmentation and personalization needs and find out if AI supports those functions.

Email is not going away anytime soon. Marketo estimates that checking email is the main activity on the internet with 94% of users getting online for this reason alone. Email marketing’s power is rooted in its ability to break through cultural, generation, and class barriers. While Facebook’s Sandberg famously announced the end of email back in 2010, she may have spoken too soon. Email has remained a mainstay in day-to-day interactions and is a popular way to receive content and information in formats that make sense to users. Email may not seem like the snazziest innovation anymore, but the possibilities for how it’s used are endless.

If you have questions about how you can better optimize your marketing around these 2020 email trends and best practices, please contact us today!

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