Email marketing is a thriving industry, and it is developing new marketing tactics each year. Not all of them withstand the test of time, but those that do become standard marketing practice.
- Ease of Use – Anyone can write and send an email, there is very little technical knowledge required.
- Cost-effectiveness – It costs practically nothing to send an email, so you can send as many as it takes to convert a prospect.
- Familiarity – Email is one of the oldest digital communication channels, and everyone from Baby Boomers to Gen Z uses it.
Email marketing is subject to trends, same as any other industry. Adapting your email marketing strategy to be in line with these trends is essential for maximizing your ROI.
To give you a taste of what you can expect from email marketing in 2020, we bring you a list of 10 trends currently on the rise in the industry.
1. Smart Segmentation
The days of one-size-fits-all email marketing are long over. Your target audience no longer consists of a single, consistent group of people. What you have instead are collections of individuals that share some characteristics, but not others.
To conduct email marketing in such an environment, it is increasingly necessary to organize your subscribers into segments and implement a separate strategy for each one.
In 2020, subscriber segmentation will become increasingly mediated by AI. This so-called ‘smart segmentation’ is based on AI pattern-matching. An AI segmentation tool can find subtle patterns in your customer data, which enables it to segment your audience with greater precision.
2. Predictive Personalization
Taking things a step further is predictive personalization. While regular personalization is concerned with customizing email content for each subscriber, predictive personalization enables you to actually predict how each subscriber will behave in the future.
It is hard to overstate the benefits of this kind of foresight. If you can predict future subscriber behavior, you can create email campaigns that are practically guaranteed to succeed.
In addition to personalized content, things like personalized email timing, personalized sending frequency, and even personalized campaigns will become more prominent as the year unfolds.
This trend also relies on AI and its data-crunching potential.
3. Multiple CTAs
When it comes to email CTAs, the prevailing wisdom used to be that you should include only a single one in each of your emails. This idea is coming under fire in 2020.
The logic behind having one CTA makes good intuitive sense. You give subscribers the option to act upon your offer while reading the email content. However, this kind of approach was proven to be too limiting.
For example, a subscriber might find your offer interesting, but they might want to take a different action than your CTA, such as watching a video of your product in action or checking your social media profile.
Offering more choices via additional CTA prompts is a way for companies to give back power to tech-savvy customers of 2020.
4. Hypothesis-led A/B testing
A/B testing is an integral component of all digital marketing campaigns, including email. Slight variations in email content and design can bring measurable increases in open rates and click-through rates. The problem with A/B testing is that it can take a while to find these specific variations.
One way in which email marketers will attempt to tackle this problem in 2020 is through a greater emphasis on hypothesis-led A/B testing. This simply means that each A/B test should have an assumption that either be true or false.
For instance, we can assume that the email click-through rate will be higher on FAQ emails for customers who had already submitted support cases. By putting forth a hypothesis before every A/B test, email marketers will cut down on the time it takes to find the variation with the greatest ROI.
5. AI-generated Content
By adding AI content generation to your email marketing automation tech stack, you can fully automate the creation and delivery of certain kinds of emails.
AI-generated content is a trend that’s been gaining more and more traction with each passing year. We are currently at the point where an AI can generate a piece of writing that is indistinguishable from one written by a human. The potential of such a technology is difficult to fathom.
Commercial AI text generation solutions are not at this level yet, but they can create a fairly convincing copy in certain contexts. For instance, such tools can create human-readable reports if you provide them with relevant statistical data. Such reports have little going for them in terms of style, but they are more concise and factual.
6. Minimalist Copy and Design
Minimalism is a trend that tends to make a reappearance every once in a while. The resurgence of minimalism in email marketing is a consequence of increasingly elaborate, multi-functional email designs that were popular yesteryear.
Minimalism places emphasis on function over form. It eschews resource-intensive design elements such as HD backgrounds and lengthy copy in favor of basic colors and short, convincing paragraphs of text.
Minimalism makes your emails stand out by doing less, an approach that characterizes email marketing as a whole.
7. Optimizing for Dark Mode
Darker email designs are set to become increasingly popular in the coming months. The reason is simple – more and more users are starting to use darker color schemes in application UIs where the option exists.
This newfound preference for darker color schemes poses a problem for email designers. Namely, if you use a bright color scheme for email design, it will come in conflict with the UI, creating a jarring effect.
As a result, companies will start conducting more A/B tests to see which color scheme their subscribers prefer. The user experience penalty for sending emails with the wrong design can be significant.
8. Email and Social Media Integration
Multi-channel marketing is a trend that rose to prominence in 2019, and in 2020 is set to expand even further. At its core is the idea that marketing channels can reinforce each other by keeping messaging consistent between them. And nowhere is this more obvious than in the case of email and social media.
On one hand, social media is an excellent source of leads for your mailing list. Thanks to advanced audience targeting features on platforms such as Facebook, companies can find leads that perfectly match their ideal customer persona.
Conversely, email represents a powerful way to promote your social media content. You can link a selection of the best posts in your weekly newsletter, share customer’s reviews from your social media page, and more.
9. The Upside-Down Marketing Funnel
According to conventional marketing wisdom, email should mainly be used as a top-of-the-funnel marketing channel. However, this reasoning no longer holds in 2020.
Research has shown that it’s 5x more expensive to acquire new customers than it is to retain existing ones. This means that top-of-the-funnel marketing tactics will always end up costing more, including email, which led to the prominence of retention-focused strategies in recent years.
However, enterprising marketers have found a way to flip the marketing funnel upside down. They realized that if you pair up quality content and products with efficient tools for spreading feedback, customers will be incentivized to spread the word about your company.
What this means for email marketing in 2020 is longer email drip campaigns focused on increasing customer experience, as well as customer lifetime value.
10. Emphasized Email Security
Cybercrime is on the rise in 2020, and email is a channel that scammers frequently use to conduct various kinds of phishing attacks. A lack of cybersecurity awareness is usually to blame, combined with lax security measures in terms of technology.
In order to combat this tendency, companies are investing more heavily in cybersecurity, specifically in better security policies, advanced software countermeasures, and employee awareness.
One example of this tendency is the fact that more and more companies are utilizing email security protocols such as TLS, SPF, DKIM/DMARC, and MTA/STS. The use of these protocols is becoming essential for keeping email marketing correspondence safe for all parties involved.
Email Marketing in 2020 – Key Takeaways
Email marketing in 2020 is going to be all about creating a quality customer experience with the help of cutting-edge technologies such as AI.
AI content generation, smart segmentation, and predictive personalization will ensure that each customer gets exactly the kind of content they want when they want it. Design-wise, multi-functional emails designed in a minimalist fashion will help companies accomplish multiple goals with a single email. Reversing the marketing funnel and combining social media and email will be a core tenet of strategic email marketing. Finally, smart A/B testing will be the glue that holds everything together by ensuring a consistent ROI for each campaign.
What do you think of our predictions for the future of email marketing in 2020? We are eager to read your predictions as well.