Top Email Marketing Trends for 2021: Hear it from the Experts!

Illustration by unblast via Dribbble

2020 has been an unprecedented year of change for everyone. From the way we work to the way we socialize, the pandemic has shifted everything online. As the digital medium becomes busier than ever, the need to stand out from the crowd is no longer a want but a survival necessity for brands. This has kept marketers on their toes to adapt to rapid changes and find more ways to innovate and adjust to the new normal.

Email marketers across the globe are rethinking strategies to stay afloat. We asked experts from the email marketing industry about what has changed in email marketing and what strategies will bring more success to marketers in the new normal, and here’s a roundup of their responses.

#1. Customer-centric and Empathetic Messaging

Emails in the post-pandemic era need to be helpful, considerate and empathetic in their messaging. Email marketers need to adopt compassionate content strategies and be mindful of the language they use in their emails.

Clear, relevant messaging that doesn't waste your readers' time (maybe even with a focus on uplifting, kind, and hopeful messaging after a difficult year in 2020). Taking a more educational approach: how can we inform or educate our customers?

Nout Boctor-Smith Sr. Campaign Manager, Email Marketing at Gitlab

If 2020 taught us anything, it's that as marketers, we should always be prepared to pivot our messaging in order to be sensitive to what's going on in the world.

Angelina Hagan Manager, Deliverability & Industry Relations, Cordial

#2. Agile Marketing

With all the uncertainties in the past year, agile email marketing is going to be a significant trend this year. Email marketers must be able to easily change their strategies as data and subscribers change.

They must be able to pivot the messaging as per the happenings around them and act accordingly in cases of emergencies and contingencies. This applies to not just scheduled email messages, but also push notifications and SMS or any other related marketing activities.

Agile Marketing will be needed. This means to be ever-alert to respond to changes in how people live their lives and shop. Be ready to change your messaging - both on your campaign promos as well as your automated programs. Keep your segments fluid - people are changing their shopping patterns as the world changes and their personal budgets change.

Kath Pay CEO, Founder and Author, Holistic Email Marketing

#3. Humanized Automation

Automated email messages that are triggered based on the individual subscriber actions is a winning email strategy and the future of email marketing.

But considering the current situation, it is more important than ever to set up humanistic automation with calmer and longer tail email journeys in terms of triggers, email sending frequency and CTA pressure.

Automated emails will be a major growth engine for ecommerce businesses, and they should automate their welcome emails, cart abandonment emails and product and browse abandonment emails.

Gregory Zakowicz Marketing Strategist & Director of Content, Omnisend

#4. Customer Segmentation and Personalization

Incorporating segmentation and personalization to make emails more relevant to each user is going to become the standard to stay competitive in the inbox. It is high time for marketers to finally embrace real-time personalization in their emails as a norm to boost relevancy and obtain better opens, clicks and conversions.

Marketing strategies will include targeted, personalized and tailored email marketing experience. Going hand in hand with this is more focus on data. What data do we need to make our campaigns stand out? What data do we need to make our emails more personal?

Kim Greenop-Gadsby Marketing Automation Specialist, Proact IT Group AB

#5. Increased Adoption of AMP

Interactivity in emails is one trend that has helped email marketers in increasing engagement like no other. In 2021, AMP in email will make it easy for marketers to create interactive and dynamic emails by adding elements like carousels, forms, calendar, etc. right inside the email.

This will enhance the subscribers’ experience and enable them to take specific actions without leaving the inbox. This trend will be a real game-changer for ecommerce brands.

AMP for Email has so much potential, there are a huge amount of potential use cases and with new features being added to the spec, this is increasing. I'm also expecting to see more people using AMP for Email alongside Interactive HTML email for a wider interactive strategy, leading to much wider reach, better user experience for the email recipients and better results for the senders.

Mark Robbins Software Engineering LMTS, Salesforce

#6. AI & Machine Learning

Relevancy is the #1 priority in email marketing in the post-pandemic world. The use of AI and Machine Learning in email marketing has helped email marketers in automating a lot of tasks and sending relevant messages and recommendations to the subscribers.

Brands must leverage these technologies to decrease production times, optimize send times and send most relevant messages.,

Send time optimization (STO) will also be popular this year. Allowing brands to send emails to individual subscribers based on their past open history, STO is particularly valuable right now because the pandemic has dramatically changed when consumers engage with their inboxes. As we establish a new normal on the other side of the pandemic, those behaviors will change again-and STO will automatically adjust.

Chad S. White Head of Research for Oracle Marketing Consulting and Author of Email Marketing Rules

#7. Accessibility and Dark Mode

It is predicted that there will be wide adoption of dark mode in emails and more email clients will support dark mode, while the accessibility trend becomes stronger. Brands need to take special note of all the aspects and best practices of accessibility, right from the email design and copy to the code.

Adoption of accessibility best practices will continue to slowly increase. I expect more brands will make the switch from text baked into images to live text in order to reach more of their audience.

Anne Tomlin Founder/Responsive Email Developer at Emails Y’all

#8. Strict Opt-in and Consent Policies

There is a rise of CDPs that store all the customer data and allow marketers to use it to enhance automation and decide what offer needs to be sent to which customer.

As marketers need to invest in better customer data to create the most relevant message, there will also be strict laws and policies across the globe for collecting and storing such data.

We're going to see stricter opt-in and consent policies across the globe (GDPR was just the start) and even more technical traps such as email providers automatically filtering emails for recipients.

Darrell Alfonso Global Marketing Operations Manager, Amazon Web Services

These are some of the most significant trends that will help email marketers in planning the right strategy for this year. Check out the infographic 29 Email Experts on Email Marketing Trends to watch for in 2021 to learn more about what each expert has to say.

Which trends are a part of your email marketing strategy for 2021?

29 Email Experts on Email Marketing Trends to watch for in 2021
Source: 29 Email Experts on Email Marketing Trends to watch for in 2021

About the Author!

Kevin George is Head of Marketing at Email Uplers, one of the fastest growing custom email design and coding companies, and specializes in crafting professional email templates, PSD to HTML email conversion and free responsive HTML email templates in addition to providing email automation, campaign management, and data integration & migration services. He loves gadgets, bikes, jazz and eats and breathes email marketing. He enjoys sharing his insights and thoughts on email marketing best practices on his blog.

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