At the beginning of this year, marketers shared their opinions about online marketing. Some of them stated that email marketing would radically change this year. We are already in Q3 2017, but there have been no significant changes in email marketing.
Studying email trends is a necessity. It's true that some trends fade in a few months, while others remain for many years. If you care about your future, you need to pay attention to trends.
A few years ago, some web designers disregarded responsive design, considering it a fad. Nowadays, any respectable website and email is responsive already. Mobile-friendly email design is not a luxury, and there are tons of free responsive email templates available for you.
When a technology is trending, its price usually drops, thus making it accessible for the wider market. The price drop already happened in marketing email design, but what's next?
1. Email automation
From a non-marketer perspective, email automation is regularly associated with a lack of personalization or even a spammer. That means sending emails on a set-it-and-forget-it basis, and the human factor is nonexistent.
Email automation nurtures the relationship with clients, streamlines the sales funnel and helps a lot in sending personalized messages. No matter the company or email list size, a marketer doesn't have time to send individual emails. An email automation platform does this job for you, and you can set up which email to send and when depending on the context.
If you use email automation wisely, you have the chance to deliver the right message at the right time to the right audience. It definitely boosts engagement and can help you to turn your recipients into brand advocates.
Many online retailers and brands have been using email automation for years with great results. Dive deep into email automation as soon as you can.
2. Interactive emails
Let's be honest: Many emails look mediocre and don't captivate you. It's partly the designers' fault and partly the email client's limitations, but that doesn't matter to you.
Making emails interactive is a necessity noted by many email marketing experts. It's no wonder interactive emails were considered the top trend of 2017 by so many experts.
By the end of 2018, emails will include more and more interactive elements. The more interactivity you have in your email, the more likely your subscribers will feel the 'wow' effect, and that's what you want.
There are countless options for you to try in your next interactive email campaign, such as the following:
Add countdown timers or counters to your emails. This way, the recipient can see the duration of a promotion, the limited discount of a product or the time until the next webinar in the email's body.
Experiment with integrated forms. Instead of driving email readers to a landing page, you can let them take action directly from the email. No additional steps means better conversions.
Carousels of images can add dynamism. Emails look plain and static, but a carousel of images can bring that much-needed sparkle. On top of that, you can showcase more products in a single email.
Creative polls and surveys will give you more customer data. If people unsubscribe from your email list, ask them to complete long forms to provide you additional data. The more data you have, the more personalized emails you can craft. It's a vicious circle for marketers. A solution to get data is to design creative polls and surveys and give discounts to the participants. Well-designed email templates, animated gifs and a good sense of humor are mandatory ingredients in this regard.
3. Video in email
If an image speaks a thousand words, a video clip is worth a thousand images. At the moment, most email clients don't display embedded videos. iOS 10 has started to support the HTML5 video format, though, which might be a sign that key players in the online world will soon adopt the same tactic. Therefore, we will soon enjoy videos embedded in emails.
The adoption of embedded video will boost engagement and make emails more attractive. Presenting an innovative product, explaining how to use an app, or showing a moving model wearing clothes for sale are just a few possible usages of video within an email.
Until we see wider support for embedded video, you should rely on animated gifs instead, which work in most email clients (except for a couple Outlook versions, where the animation is not played).
4. Big data analysis and personalization
With the spread of AWS and other cloud infrastructure providers, data storage is a commodity already. It's quite easy and cheap to launch a new server anywhere around the globe, but it requires much more effort to understand the data you collected and to make actionable findings based on the loads of touch points you had with the customer.
Because of the high costs, big data analysis is still a luxury of the large companies. Intercom seems to be the only affordable (pricing starts at a couple hundred dollars) and reliable software that helps you to collect and store actionable information about your customers. Of course, enterprises have much more complex solutions in place and data analytics teams who spend most of their time looking for actionable learnings and improvement opportunities.
5. AI and machine learning
Once AI and machine learning become more affordable for small businesses, we'll end up in an era where all the emails, offers, websites and Facebook chat messages will be tailored to fit our personal profiles.
These are just some of the ways an email marketing AI can help you:
Automatically improve your open rates by recommending new subject lines
Personalize send time based on your reader's previous habits
Automate tiresome A/B testing
Take care of list segmentation
We are near a very exciting technological turning point that may truly revolutionize the way we live and do marketing. Maybe it won't be "us" working on campaign optimization, but AI taking care of it.