So, you want to brush up on your brand’s email marketing strategy? Of course––high traffic, heavy engagement and click-through rates are vital checkmarks for any successful business. Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve got some tips and tools on offer, along with some examples of where you can get started. Here are some tried and tested email marketing trends that are here to stay.
To put things simply: everybody is on a mobile phone. EVERYONE. And for those who aren't? You're not going to want to waste time and resources trying to appeal to them. They have made their choice, and they can live with it. That leaves everybody else––no small number. In fact, by 2022, there are estimated to be 7.26 billion mobile users around the world. That’s a little less than the entire current global population (try to figure that out). A lot of people are online and on the go. And when they are going, a lot of them are checking their emails. This presents one of the most important opportunities for businesses to engage with their customers. And yet, most email campaigns are not optimized for mobile readers.
According to studies, nearly 80% of mobile users have made a purchase online using their device. If you want to increase traffic while delivering your brand message effectively, you MUST make mobile optimization a priority during your next email campaign. This does not involve draining your resources or dollars from your company budgets. On the contrary, your existing campaigns likely need only a few minor tweaks. Well-optimized emails are clean, concise and to the point. They fit the smaller screen without overwhelming users by incorporating heavy graphics or bad UX/UI. If you want to increase the click-through rates, without sacrificing brand identity, try to keep things to the point.
Who’s doing good work on good mobile optimization?
There are many great examples of brands that use effective mobile optimization in their email campaigns. Some consistently great ones include FilmSupply, RalphLauren, and Glossier.
Dark mode-designed content
This one goes hand in hand with mobile optimization but is strong enough of a trend to deserve its own spot. By now, you know the figures around how many people are using their phones to make purchases. But what marketers may not be considering is where and why these people are using their phones.
There are many reasons why mobile users might choose to switch their phones over to dark mode. To conserve energy, to ease eye strain, to maintain a Gothic aesthetic. Or because they are scrolling through emails in bed next to a sleeping partner. The possibilities are endless. That's why it's best NOT to forget about them. Dark mode mobile use is a growing trend for all the above reasons. Brands should be adapting to keep up with competitors.
Who is doing dark mode content right?
Apple has always had an innovative and sleek approach to designing email marketing content for dark mode mobiles. It's a significant chunk of the brand's aesthetic. Minimal copy, high-definition product shots, accessible maneuvering. It's no surprise that their emails are also clear and consistent. Other brands capitalizing on their signature colors and tones and producing effective email marketing content include Netflix, Spotify, and Bose.
Including personalized video content
Companies today are trying to capture their audience’s attention. And while there are many ways to go about this, one of the most popular in recent years is personalized video content. A personalized video is essentially a video customized for each viewer in a way that uniquely engages them. One way of achieving video personalization is to customize the content towards a viewer in a way that's unique to the viewer. And while this trend has proven profitable for businesses, there has also been an increase in usage on social media. Given the rise in popularity of video personalization platforms like Cameo this shouldn't be a surprise.
Using video personalization technology, marketers can customize their content to each email recipient by incorporating unique identifiers. (i.e. a viewer’s name, their company, their job title, or even their profile picture). What makes this form so popular is the fact that you don’t have to create a new custom video every single time. By recycling the same video and using the platform’s designated frames, you can give viewers the look and feel of an individual personalized video. It’s easy.
So does this actually work?
Personalized video email marketing is definitely not going away anytime soon. Business results have shown a surge in numbers over recent years. The benefits of personalized videos include an increase in user engagement, higher open rates, and higher CTRs. In fact, a study by Smart Insights found that 72% of consumers would only engage with marketing messages that are personalized to them. More than anything, personalization allows brands to connect and build relationships with their audiences. This improves the likelihood that those viewers will not only open these emails but will also become dedicated, long-term consumers.
Amnesty International Canada and Norton Software are examples of companies that have caught on to the trend. Creating unique and personalized video content for their email subscribers. In fact, according to Vidyard, one particular Amnesty International campaign resulted in an 83.1% click-through rate and boasted an entire viewership of 75%.
More effective brand storytelling
Brand storytelling is a storytelling method that connects your brand to your customers. It does this by establishing a bridge between what your company stands for and what your customers are looking for. While every brand has a story to tell, many aren’t great at communicating what that story is. And businesses can suffer as a result.
In order for a brand story to work, it must stand heads and shoulders above the brand’s services and products. Something MORE! Effective brand storytelling creates something that an audience wants to be a part of, to engage in. It’s almost secondary to the shopping experience. Pop-up shops are a great example. By using temporary, non-traditional retail space, brands have more freedom to tell a story with their layouts and displays. This is inviting people in for an experience. And then a reminder…like, oh ya, we also sell stuff. Check it out.
Once your brand has established, and can communicate, its own story, then your team can create and execute more effective email marketing content.
Good examples of brand storytelling:
Refinery29. The popular female lifestyle website took a unique approach when creating a campaign that further appealed to their followers. They found the unsettling fact that 67% of American women are plus-sized, yet make up less than 2% of the images we see. What did they do about it? They teamed up with stock photo company Getty Images to produce a new series of shots that more accurately represent its audience. And they made the series free to download.
The results proved VERY successful. Refinery29 uses the images consistently throughout their website and emails. They used strong consumer insight to learn more about who their audience really was. And in the process established itself as a brand dedicated to standing up for its customers authentically.
One marketing trend that will never disappear is the shift towards accessible and inclusive design. This means designing your emails and content so that every subscriber can easily understand your message, regardless of any disability. Best of all, this trend is the easiest to capitalize on if you haven’t already. It relies so much on your brand storytelling (remember??). You put enough thought into your email content. You should be able to take it that much farther by ensuring that your audience understands it as you intended.
When designing accessible marketing content, it is important to acknowledge that not every subscriber is interacting with their email the same way. A good UX/UI designer and copywriter know how to get this done. If your business doesn't allow for this, there are steps your marketing coordinators can follow. As always, put yourself in the position of your audience. Let's say you've shot an in-depth, comprehensive personalized video and included it in your content calendar. Before you have it added to your next email marketing campaign, consider the subscriber with hearing issues or vision problems. Will your overwhelming use of colored banners and text blocks be easily absorbed by a colorblind reader?
Nowadays, a lack of accessibility can make or break a brand. If you can’t provide a useful tool for communicating your business’s services and/or products, customers will go somewhere else. There are hundreds of competitors for them to choose from.
Even if you think your marketing content is beautiful and engaging, it doesn't mean that it is. Good and bad designs are not always recognizable. Always be sure to keep your eyes peeled for functionality across your platforms. Consider some of these tips for keeping accessibility in front of mind:
- Know your text. Using text, as opposed to text in images, is best. It is easier to read and will retain its size when utilized in mobile platforms. Speaking of easy to read, makes sure your font size is large enough to see by those who may be visually impaired. Study your audience statistics, particularly age groups. It should give you an indication of how many of your followers may be of an age when poor vision is common. And try to avoid centering or justifying text in emails for the same reason.
- Use alternatives. Alt-text is the copy that appears on-screen if an image fails to load. It is also a foundational tool for screen readers who are “listening” to email. When adding in your alt texts, consider the fact that some visually impaired subscribers will have images described to them. Make them as accommodating as possible.
- Don’t over-do it with colors. Of course, you'll want your email content to stand out. But you don’t want it to stand out for all the wrong reasons. If you are using multiple colors to support your campaign messaging, make sure they do not contrast with one another. And be sure to perform tests when using copy on colored backdrops and graphics.
Nowadays, people want more from brands than just innovative products. They want a full-on shopping experience. And a big chunk of that experience falls under the category of customer satisfaction. The data for 2019 consumer reviews speaks for itself. More than 80% of people say that they read online reviews for local businesses. While 52% say that they ALWAYS read reviews before making a purchase. These statistics are more than just numbers. They can actually be translated into larger sales. And smart brands are beginning to taking note.
Email marketing is the most direct way in which companies can interact with their customer base. So it’s a good idea to use it to its full advantage. Most email marketing platforms allow businesses to set up automated feedback requests from their subscriber lists. When customers receive targeted emails about a recent purchase, they are usually happy to engage. Especially if companies offer incentives on future purchases as a result. If your business gets a few 1-star reviews, you should take that as a learning lesson. And as an opportunity to redeem yourself before losing unhappy customers to competitors.
Who’s good at making it good?
There are a lot of companies putting together creative response emails. And being creative is key. You don’t want your followers to feel like they are answering to a robotic, automated request from an online business. Check out some great work by companies like Bellroy, Uber, Anthropologie, and Headspace.
There you have it! Popular and on-the-rise email marketing trends to watch for in 2020 and beyond. Now you have a better understanding of how these processes work and how they can potentially help grow your brand and business. Now you can keep ahead of the competition and dramatically increase your traffic and click-through rates. Keep your eyes forward!