Email Marketing / Marketing
Email marketing trends for 2020
As we get settled into 2020, we thought we’d share some thoughts on some future trends we predict in email marketing for 2020 from our Content and Email Executive, Kitty.
We’ve compiled this list from our own opinions, industry research, and from discussions with our preferred partner, Mailjet on how they are developing their product. There are some definite shifts in the industry and with the introduction of the Direct Marketing Code (more on that soon), there will no doubt be more changes further down the line.
Personalisation has become a major driving force in recent years, the intelligence of databases and data variables lending into that perfectly. Shops can email you with the last thing you bought, your name, address and how many other people near you bought that and so much more.
Marketers are becoming more aware of the amount of personalisation they can offer but when does personalisation become corporate stalking? While most companies will hold a vast amount of data on consumers, actioning that data draws a fine line between intelligent systems and being plain ‘creepy.
As an industry, extending out to everyone who touches marketing, both as a client and as a marketer, we all need to get out our heads away from the idea that naming someone is personalisation and look at that as addressing them. Personalisation should come from the experience we provide through email rather than how we address someone. That is the level of personalisation we predict will start to come into play this year.
Personalisation through experience is all about being pertinent to your customer’s inbox, providing emails at the right time, with content that is relevant and delivered in an accessible, easy to digest format. This doesn’t necessarily mean making emails short, image-heavy and super jazzy. Instead communicating relevant, timely and concise information with immediately actionable call to actions (CTAs). CTAs in the age of hyper-personalisation doesn’t mean landing on a generic page, but instead sending them to a fully thought through customer journey, from landing page to goal completion area.
74% of email recipients surveyed said that email irrelevance was the biggest “email turn off” – SendGrid, Email Benchmarks 2019
The era of intelligent personalisation no longer requires large sending volumes but instead relies on planning, workflows and utilising segmentation to the max. Email marketers are moving away from the content marketing roles to more data-driven roles. Analysing consumer data to understand points of improvement and utilising observed and inferred data to decide sending patterns. In fact over-sending will become detrimental to IP reputation and should be reconsidered at every possible turn.
Irrelevance was found to be the biggest bugbear for consumers receiving email by SendGrid in their 2019 Email Benchmark study. Companies that send overly generic and mass-marketed emails to valuable customers in the hope that they will engage, risk losing potentially high spending customers. In the goal to maximise KPIs, sending small yet significant and relevant emails to a select segment of customers with a personalised incentive is a sure win for companies.
How do we as email marketers carry this out? It starts from the ground up; your data. Collecting, storing and processing data in an easy to dissect way is key to enable intelligent sending. If you have to send emails to varying levels of segments to gain data then, do that. If it means adjusting how data is collected from shopping then so be it. Data is the new oil and its importance cannot be emphasised highly enough.
If you are collecting and storing data in an easy to act upon manner, then start to plan your customer segments with higher revenue possibilities. Avoid perpetuating stereotypes, as they are just that, stereotypes. Utilise your data to back up every point, and if you can’t back it up with data, then don’t send the email.
Less humans, more robots
There is no doubt in my mind that AI will become much more involved in every aspect of email marketing. Back in 2017 Phrasee, a marketing AI tool, was working with companies such as Dominos and Virgin Holidays to write subject lines that outperformed a human’s subject line 98% of the time.
They describe the many forms of AI they use, from understanding sentiment to perfectly harmonising brand voice, the content of an email and engagement statistics to creating winning subject lines.
At the minute, the vast majority of marketing and AI are not complementing one another. Often AI is simply getting money thrown at it without identifying the need and return on it. If there is a direct business issue that needs a solution then spend time investigating that solution before throwing AI at it willy-nilly.
This isn’t to say humans are all going to lose their jobs to a robot called Mary, on the contrary, humans will need to start to understand the potential that AI can provide to their job and use it as a personal assistant. Content still has to be produced and generated for AI to utilise and data still needs to be analysed to understand the benefits of AI.
IBM Watson is probably the biggest example of AI assisting with everyday work. KPMG, a Big Four audit, tax and advisory firm turned to Watson to assist with their decoding of long and complex documents. It in no way replaced tax professionals, it merely made them more productive and increased the audit trail for each case.
AI in its many forms will undoubtedly assist marketers in their quest to provide better client results.
Wider understanding of deliverability
Deliverability has often been the dark art of email marketing, secrets on how to maximise inbox placement whispered between marketers. For those who have never heard of deliverability, it’s simply the art of getting more emails into the primary inbox (and out of spam).
When we were discussing trends for 2020 with our preferred email partner Mailjet, they referenced how important utilising data to pre-emptively discover deliverability issues was. 37% of email marketers surveyed in 2019 said deliverability was a top issue for them and so Mailjet are developing their product to assist people in future deliverability issues.
“With 37% of marketers citing deliverability as the main barrier to effective email marketing in 2019, we believe 2020 will bring an increased use of data to anticipate deliverability issues.
Even though tools to enable this have been available for a while, it is now that users are really starting to leverage this type of resource, as marketers become more concerned about their deliverability. With webmail providers improving the email experience for their users with filters and smart tools, we see a bigger interest from users in understanding how this works and how to effectively crack the code.
To support this demand, at Mailjet we’ll be focusing on developing tools that get emails into the inbox, at the right time to increase engagement. We’ll be introducing new features to allow users to validate email address, diagnose deliverability issues and optimise emails before pressing Send. And we’ll be pairing this up with some exciting innovations that will enable marketers to automatically optimise sending time, to make sure your emails reach all the different inboxes precisely when their contacts are most likely to read them.” – Bea Redondo Tejedor, Head of Content at Mailjet.
Newsletters starting to die
In 2020, one of the unspoken side effects of increased personalisation is the death of the newsletter. Often a staple for marketers wanting to share a large generic message, there is a very high chance newsletters will be replaced with targeted content in specifically segmented emails.
Newsletters have been slowly disappearing for a while now. A quick poll of the TFG team showed that while the majority of the team had at least one newsletter in their promotions tab only one person actually read or planned to read that newsletter.
It comes as a blend of needing to provide content for SEO and communicating relevant information to your customer collide, and not always for the best. Writing articles for SEO and writing for your existing user base isn’t the same thing so you may find your newsletters have a lower open rate if you’re using copy they find irrelevant.
Instead, more relevant content will be sent through increased customer intelligence and segmentation. Using data and contact properties, marketers will be able to manipulate emails to improve engagement and drive higher value conversions.
Newsletters may still exist but I believe that sooner rather than later they will be more intelligent and reactive to customers’ needs. Mailjet offers segment based email designs, that are reactive to customer contact properties and display content based on whether a person is relevant to said rule. For example, using boolean logic, you could differentiate between customers that do have the contact property “SALE” vs those that don’t to provide more personalised campaigns based more on previous purchases.
The future of email itself?
There has long been debate on how long email marketing as a channel has left. Younger consumers are often spoken about turning away from email but studies show that 3.9 billion people worldwide use email compared to the 3.5 billion that use social media (Radicati, 2019).
Email is still peoples preferred marketing channel, with 73% of consumers choosing it over social media (DMA, 2018) and seconded by post with that being 41%. It shows the highly relevant and cost-effective method that email provides for marketers. Not only can you reach people at key moments in their day, for example, during the working day, but it provides one of the most personal ways to communicate with someone.
At no other point in the marketing cycle can you offer someone an immediate notification based on shopping habits through a channel, they have to do nothing extra to receive that notification.
It’s a highly powerful channel, and when used correctly, can utilise so many intelligent technologies to send highly segmented and accurate emails.
Email marketing has evolved and continues to at a ridiculously fast-paced rate.
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If you’re interested in how you can utilise email marketing to its full potential, speak to our team today!
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