How has 2020 affected email marketing and what changes will 2021 bring? As marketers we need to pay special attention to emerging trends and be ready to pivot when necessary. We’re sharing 5 most important trends in email marketing for 2021,so that you can stay up to date and improve your marketing results.
Changes in Business in 2020
2020 will be remembered as the year of turmoil. People all over the globe had to alter their daily lives in only a couple of days. Many businesses shut down or moved to home offices, transportation came to a halt, doctors started to practise telemedicine, and students switched to online classes and exams. E-commerce skyrocketed once most traditional shops had to be put on a lockdown. The list can go on and on, but what’s common here is that nearly everyone faced some significant life changes.
Remote work or education is no longer an uncommon thing, but a necessity, and, what might seem surprising, many businesses took advantage of these peculiar times and developed new ways of operating. Despite large distances between co-workers, they’ve mastered effective communication and cooperation.
Marketing has also been greatly affected by the pandemic. Marketers suddenly had to come up with innovative ways of staying in touch with the community, clients, and prospects. Methods that were working 12 months ago were no longer bringing the expected results. But the new reality, apart from the obstacles, also brought opportunities for marketers to improve customer experience and develop client relations on a more personal level.
With the budgets becoming tight, many decided to cut down the expenses on advertising, including social media ads and search engine ads. In turn, it gave more space to refine other channels, such as organic social media or email.
In this article, we’re going to focus on all things email. We’ll take a closer look at some of the major trends in this industry and see what 2021 may bring.
Let’s dive in.
Trend 1: Adopting Artificial Intelligence in Email Marketing
According to the McKinsey’s report from 2020, 50% of respondents reported that their companies have adopted AI in at least one business function. It only proves that this trend has already been developing for a few years and it’s going to come at full speed in 2021.
Artificial Intelligence can help email marketers increase their results and take over the most time-consuming and difficult activities, such as analyzing large amounts of data or A/B testing.
AI is a very powerful tool for marketers and helps them achieve better results in less time. Algorithms are capable of performing multiple operations and present highly accurate predictions.
While certain elements of email marketing require human brain and creativity, there are things such as data management, customer lifetime value prediction, message personalization, or send time optimization, that AI can successfully perform.
We’ve recently published an infographic where we take a look at the main differences between traditional and AI-powered email marketing. It’s a great resource to check whether your daily tasks can be supported by AI.
Tip: If you’re new to Artificial Intelligence and aren’t sure where to start, read our article: How to get started with AI in your Email Marketing program.
Trend 2: Hyper Personalization
Over the years consumers have become a lot more aware of marketers’ efforts to get their attention. However, only in 2020 did the market realize how important personalization is. Customers on the other hand have learned to appreciate the personal touch in communication.
Hyper personalization is yet another level. As Deloitte’s report describes, it’s “the most advanced way brands can tailor their marketing to individual customers”. It uses data, AI, and analytics to create highly personalized profiles - single customer profiles. As a result, instead of sending messages based on large clusters of subscribers that share similar features, marketers can communicate using the Segment of One approach. This way they can engage with and build strong relations with each individual subscriber.
Why is it so important? Deloitte report states that 80% of customers are more likely to
purchase from a company that offers personalized experiences. What’s more, 69% of online shoppers say that the quality or relevance of a company’s message influences their perception of a brand.
Email personalization can apply to basically anything: subject lines, content, email design, recommendations, or send time. AI-powered systems will analyze data coming from customers and detect what their preferences are, when they are active, what content resonates with them the most.
Tip: See our advice on how AI can help you improve email personalization in this article: 7 Ways to Increase Results Using Artificial Intelligence.
Trend 3: Don’t Overcrowd the Inbox - Optimizing Sending Time
In 2020 we saw a large shift from the offline to online world. It was also visible in our social media and email inboxes. The “we’re in this together” phrase has been used in commercials multiple times across all platforms and industries. This repetitive pandemic advertising may have caused some consumers headaches. Similar story happens each year around Black Friday, where all brands send dozens of emails, social media ads, push notifications to let people know about the upcoming bargains.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong in keeping subscribers up to date, but we should always control the number of messages we send out. 2020 is over and now it’s time for a breath of fresh air. Let’s take a closer look at how often we communicate with customers and if there are any common points that can be merged with others to create fewer messages.
AI-powered tools come in handy here. They’re capable of examining the subscriber’s past activity and engagement to optimize both the sending time and frequency of delivering communication. They can tell how each individual customer reacts to messages and decide on the next steps for you.
Tip: Implement Segment of One and Hyper Personalization for best results. Make sure your subscribers get messages that are engaging and interesting to them.
Trend 4: Predicting Customer Lifetime Value
Customer Lifetime Value is the total value a business can reasonably expect from a single customer account. We need this to find out which channels to prioritize, where to allocate our marketing budget, optimize the customer journey, and apply correct strategies.
The problem is, predicting CLV is not that easy. With the large amount of data points coming from multiple sources it’s difficult to tailor CLV models to each customer. And this is what subscribers are expecting this year.
People have been interacting with online messages a lot more in the past year and they’ve been doing it on a more personal level. With lack of face-to-face contact, it’s in our nature to want to interact on a higher level. Marketers know this and are able to tailor their strategies to the current needs.
Predicting and calculating Customer Lifetime Value is time-consuming, however Artificial Intelligence can significantly cut this time. Based on past behaviors it can predict future behaviors and expected revenues with extremely low discrepancy rate.
Tip: Watch this webinar extract to hear more about CLV predictions and see a case study we performed.
Trend 5: Simple but Engaging Email Design
The times of bright colorful emails filled with images that often failed to load in customers’ inboxes are long gone. 2021 is all about simplicity.
Once we get the subscriber’s attention with a captivating subject line, we need to make sure our content is actually read. For that we need a clean design with an even clearer CTA.
Luckily, AI-powered tools can help marketers choose the best design and tailor the content to all subscribers’ preferences. This is an element of hyper personalization mentioned above.
Some people will prefer a short and consistent text email, where at just one glance they’ll get the message. Others will appreciate the use of different images and fonts. Some preferences may vary depending on the device people use most often to check emails.
However, humans can’t easily predict what people’s preferences are. Artificial Intelligence on the other hand can analyze patterns, find common points and, as a result, send emails designed in a way that resonates with individual subscribers.
With personalized content and design emails can reach much higher click-through rates and convert better, because they will feel more personal. After all, don’t we all enjoy getting relevant messages that bring value to our lives?
Tip: Try and keep only one CTA or one link in your email campaigns to prevent the traffic from visiting other irrelevant websites.
What should marketers focus on in 2021?
These top 5 trends are closely related to the use of AI, but it doesn’t mean we should forget about humans and pass all the work to machines. AI can perform the most complex operations in a much shorter time. In return, email marketers can focus on new creative solutions and ways to optimize their own work. Year 2020 forced us to reevaluate marketing strategies, but it’s also a great opportunity to incorporate Artificial Intelligence into daily tasks.
What’s one thing to keep in mind when planning the 2021 email marketing strategy?
Artificial Intelligence has been seen as an emerging trend for a couple of years. As we stated in our recent infographic, the market size of AI is constantly growing and can reach $266 billion in 2027. And it’s only a 6-year difference! So, email marketers that are planning their strategy should take a closer look at how AI can help them increase productivity and take over some of the most boring tasks. This technology is evolving and becoming an integral part of many companies. As the McKinsey report suggests, respondents at high-performing companies that use AI are nearly twice as likely as others to report EBIT growth in 2019 of 10 percent or more.
Over to you
Are you ready to improve your email marketing efforts in 2021? Schedule a free consultation session with our experts. See how we can help you introduce Artificial Intelligence into your daily activities.