As we enter the new year, it’d be easy to assume that email marketing could be becoming increasingly “old hat.” After all, we’ve got so many other forms of advertising available today. And Sherly Sandberg even said in 2010 that the “end of email” was just around the corner.
However, ten years after that prediction, Marketo studies have found that email checking is still the #1 activity on the internet, with 94% of internet users getting online to check their email. Part of the reason that email is so successful is that it allows companies to connect with their customers wherever they are.
Email breaks through generational, cultural, and societal barriers to bring everyone together. However, while the impact of email as a marketing strategy remains consistent, the way that companies need to design emails to gain customer attention is changing.
To prepare you for the email trends 2020 has to offer; we’re taking a look at some of the significant design changes that are likely to take place in the year ahead.
1. The Rise of Video in Emails
Video content has grown increasingly popular throughout 2019. As we head into 2020, integrating video into your email design can make a massive difference to your open rate and conversions.
Just using the word “video” in your email subject line is enough to increase your conversion rate by 65% and your open rate by 19%. Aside from being easy to consume for people on the go, videos are easy to share and are excellent at delivering complex information to a customer. Keep in mind, however, that not all email platforms support video playback in emails.
This means that you might need to create a thumbnail image for your video and use that picture as a clickable link leading to your site instead. For instance, Framer, the design tool, used a video to highlight a customer case study and deliver social proof to clients:
2. Take Advantage of User Generated Content
Another major contender for the email trends 2020 has to offer regarding design, is the rise of user-generated content, or “UGC.” This is any form of email material, from images and text to video, that was created by your end-user. Similar to other marketing channels, user-generated content is excellent for driving engagement from your customers.
These days, most of your customers will conduct their own research before jumping into a sale. 3DCart suggests that 82% of customers access user-generated reviews to figure out what they should be buying. Additionally, another 70% will look at reviews or ratings when making a purchasing choice. There are plenty of great ways to use UGC in your email marketing campaigns.
One simple way to keep your customers engaged with both your email marketing and social media campaigns at the same time is to create a hashtag on a channel like Instagram. From there, you can choose some of the best images to implement into your emails. Pottery barn used this strategy, along with a helpful CTA to grab the attention of its customers.
3. Step Into the World of Interactivity
2020 is shaping up to be one of the first years where more emails are opened on a mobile device than are opened on laptops or desktops. As we stride forward into the age of mobile, companies need to think carefully about how they can optimize their content for the new age.
The first step is making sure that your device is responsive and ready to work correctly on a multitude of devices. Combining interactivity with responsiveness will also be a valuable way to make your emails stand out in 2020. Fortunately, there are a lot of ways that companies can get their customers connecting with their emails on a deeper level. For instance, options include:
- Rollover effects that show more product features and details;
- Animated call-to-action buttons and information;
- Product carousels that the user can control;
- Polls, surveys, and user-generated content that’s clickable;
- Content that can be reduced or expanded according to user needs.
Even something as simple as a button that changes color when you over it or tap it with your finger can make a big difference:
4. Unlock Greater Accessibility
One of the most important things to consider as you look into the email trends 2020 has to offer is that customers are constantly searching for greater accessibility. Fort instance, look at the rise of voice assistants that are reading emails out loud to customers these days.
As we move into 2020, companies will need to think carefully about how they can adjust their email designs to suit all kinds of people. This includes appealing to people with visual impairments. While accessible design in email marketing might seem like a daunting concept at first, it’s growing increasingly crucial. 77% of brands say that accessibility is essential to them, but only 8% follow the best practices for accessibility.
One simple way to keep your emails as accessible as possible is to get straight to the point. We’re dealing with an audience that has a very limited attention span most of the time. That means that shorter sentences, brief paragraphs, and limited jargon are all essential.
Take a look at this email from Harry’s for an insight into how your content can be made as accessible and straightforward as possible, without losing impact:
5. Update Your Images with Animation
Movement grabs people’s attention.
If you want an email that’s appealing enough to convert your customer, then you’re going to need to find a way to capture their interest first. Since full-fat videos aren’t an option for every company, there’s always the option to consider animation through APNG images and GIFs instead.
APNG images are generally higher in quality than GIFs, so they could be an excellent alternative if you want to maintain a professional and highly-refined image.
Try not to do too much animation at once in your emails, as that can often cause slower-loading emails, and may lead to problems on some phones. Stick to something simple, like this fantastic example from the ShoeMint company:
6. Enjoy the Advantages of AMP-Powered Emails
AMP-powered emails cause quite a bit of confusion in the email marketing landscape these days. However, the truth is that AMP shouldn’t be as overwhelming or daunting as most marketers perceive it to be. Introduced by Google in 2016, AMP technology is a solution that allows for website pages to be instantly updated and downloaded on a mobile device.
Over the years, AMP has been a critical tool in building responsive ads and websites. In May 2019, AMP tech was upgraded to support emails and make them more dynamic. Regardless of the kind of company that you run, using AMP technology in 2020 will be a great way to give your emails more functionality.
Within an AMP-powered email, your customers can browse through catalogs, select product categories, and even proceed with paying for a product or service from your website, all within the body of their email messages. Brands like eSputnik are already experimenting with this tech:
Allowing your customer to move further in their buyer journey, without having to worry about things like clicking through to separate web pages and waiting for them to load is an excellent way to accelerate conversions.
7. Making Emails Clever
Artificial intelligence is perhaps one of the most exciting email trends 2020 has to offer.
In a world where data is everywhere, machine learning and artificial intelligence strategies are both picking up speed. These tools can help companies to write emails that are tailor-made to the needs of each subscriber. For instance, you can connect your AI system to your CRM software to help you segment your audience based on their previous purchases.
Once you know what kind of products your clients are interested in, you can send them marketing content and promotional material that’s catering to their unique tastes.
For instance, check out this email from Frank and Oak that comes with the subject line, “Name, is this what you were looking for?”
Although your customers are likely to expect more artificial intelligence in marketing campaigns heading into 2020, try not to take it too far. Your emails still need to sound like they’re coming from a human being if you want to avoid isolating customers.
Finally, throughout the last decade, we’ve seen some severe advancements in the world of email automation. Over the next ten years, we could discover that the way that we use email as a marketing channel changes astronomically. Integrating email into the full marketing stack is something that most businesses should be considering to some extent.
With the right email marketing service and automation, you can determine precisely when and where you need to send emails to drive the best results. You can follow up on crucial customer activities and access smarter automated segmentation for more personal messages.
Heading into 2020, there’s a good chance that we’ll see more email marketing tools delivering a more extensive range of automation solutions, along with better A/B testing and reporting to track your campaigns. If you’re willing to take advantage of the technology, the possibilities are endless.
Looking to The Future: Foresight is 2020
While it’s impossible to know for sure what’s going to change in 2020 and the years ahead for email marketing, we can make some assumptions based on what we’ve seen so far.
In today’s ever-shifting landscape, the technology and design trends associated with email marketing are changing rapidly. However, that doesn’t mean that email is losing its impact. The inbox remains to be one of the best environments for connecting with your audience. Try some of the tips above and see whether they can help you to amaze your audience in 2020.
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