80% of consumers prefer email as the primary method of outreach from a brand. How you leverage this marketing tool determines whether you engage subscribers or find your ROI falling flat. Email marketing without the right strategy leads to a lot of tedious work without the payoff. But these email marketing trends are connecting with people. They’re turning that connection into tangible profits for small businesses in 2018.
And the great news is that when implemented the right way they don’t take a lot of time or a Fortune 500 budget.
Let’s take a look!
1) Instantly Usable Content
We’ll start our effective email marketing trends with one you can instantly use. Begin increasing your open rate with this simple technique.
That’s what you want right, right? You need something that you can quickly apply and get instant results.
Guess what? That’s what your customers want as well. They want it fast. They want it now. They want to see an immediate change in their lives as a result of opening your email.
We’ve seen the newsletters that are all ads. Then there are ones that are just a bunch of links to articles on the website. They may remind someone of important dates or specials.
That’s not instant gratification. It’s not giving people what they want. These don’t make people want to click.
By the Numbers
41% of people feel that technology has conditioned them to be more impatient. Rates are higher among millennials. They’ve had broadband Internet and ever-faster devices their whole adult lives.
We don’t have to go to the library to research. We can instantly Google the answer. Technology has made everything from banking to watching sports faster and more efficient.
41% say they wouldn’t wait longer than 15 minutes for an Uber. 26% wouldn’t wait over 30 minutes for takeout. If they have a question, they want the answer immediately day or night.
57% of people won’t wait longer than 3 seconds for a website to load on their device.
Email marketing trends are responding to this instant demand.
Examples of Instantly Useable Content
This content serves an immediate need for the recipient. Because they use it immediately, they remember your brand.
Any brand can do this. For example,
- Mindfulness brand = short guided meditation
- Healthy snack company = easy recipe
- Fashion or interior design brand = ensemble for the week
- Plumber = plumbing tip of the week
- Lawyer = legal tip
- Non-profit = 1 simple way you can help
- Entertainment = A joke, funny image or video
- Any company can send out a weekly how-to video related to their brand
Think quick and visual.
This isn’t the time to create lengthy content. As a general rule, the person should be able to consume this content in under two minutes. It should instantly make their life better in some way.
You can include longer content in the email. But your instant content should be top, front and center in the email.
Keep it interesting. Give them a reason to get excited when your newsletter pops into the inbox each week. Start re-engaging the 70-80% of subscribers who don’t currently open your emails.
2) Emails Become More Human through AI
AI continues to revolutionize marketing. It’s no surprise that it’s taking over email marketing trends. Your small business can use machine learning technologies to send people more personalized and relevant content.
You may feel like a superhero some days, as you switch hats and get things done in your business. But no human could develop the level of hyper-segmentation you can achieve with this technology.
AI technologies allow you to reach particular segments with a more tailored message and offers. When people get relevant emails they actually open and interact with them.
57% of people say that marketing emails rarely apply to them. 41% of people say they unsubscribe to branded emails when they find they’re not relevant. 18% of people mark emails they don’t want as spam instead of unsubscribing. That hurts your reputation.
We’ve got a lot of work to do.
AI technology makes emails feel more personal and human. With it, you demonstrate that you understand this person’s needs and interests.
AI-driven email builds a stronger bond between customer and brand.
3) Emails Become More Human by Being Human
Today’s consumers are turned off by overly formal language. They’d rather you start up a conversation in an everyday tone. You may be a prestigious law firm or acquisitions broker. You think you must convey a buttoned-up image.
But, increasingly, this isn’t what consumers want — even in B2B.
Your language should convey confidence and knowledge. You can do this without using words that 85% of English-speakers don’t know. You can do this without long sentences and block paragraphs.
You can do this without being such a grammar stickler that you won’t start a sentence with “And”.
Connect with people as a person rather than a faceless brand.
4) Mobile-First Is Not an Option
It’s a must in email marketing trends.
79% of people read their emails on mobile devices. 70% of consumers say they delete emails that don’t render on mobile. They don’t wait until they get home to their laptop or to their work computer. You don’t get a second chance.
This is one of those email marketing trends that’s been in the works for some time. But up until last year, a small business could get away with not having mobile-friendly emails.
Fast forward to today. Your email almost assuredly goes to junk if it doesn’t render well on mobile.
How to Make Emails Mobile-Friendly
Let’s look at the 7 steps to a mobile-friendly email.
- Have very short subject lines. Without a great subject line, no one opens the email. If the great subject is cut off, again, no one opens the email. Keep it succinct at 40 characters or less.
- Use a single column template. Save yourself the hassle of having to ensure that your email template adjusts from double to single column on mobile. Only use single column templates.
- Use a larger font. Size 14 is the smallest font for mobile. If the font type is intricate then even larger is better.
- Size images properly for faster load times. Get your image as small as possible without causing pixelization on larger devices. This adjustment is made on the file itself, not in the template.
- Have a clear call to action. If the email is designed to earn clicks, the call to action should be undeniable as a finger-friendly button.
- Don’t put links near each other. Links that are too close together lead to frustration when people can’t click the desired link.
- Test your emails on multiple devices. You can find free tools online that allow you to test your email on all the popular devices. Use this resource.
5) Protecting Customer Data
This email marketing trend arises from the years of excessive and careless collection, selling and using of personal data. It goes far beyond the Can Spam Act.
Customers know that you collect a lot of data on them. They understand that you use this data to create a more personalized experience. But they’re also tired of having this data used to harass them.
We’ve all experienced this. You sign a new mortgage. Now, you’re getting endless offers for home warranties. You have more credit card debt than you’d like. You’re overwhelmed with offers to consolidate or re-fi.
You give some money to a charity. Suddenly 20 charities are emailing you.
In order for your email marketing campaigns to be successful, a person must trust you. Without that trust, they won’t provide you with their email and other identifying information.
6 Ways to Show You Respect Personal Data
- Let customers know that you value their privacy
- Be transparent. If you sell data, clearly state it in your terms and conditions.
- Get picky about who you sell data to. Selling data to people who harass customers is bad for business.
- Ensure that you have customer consent before adding them to a mailing list
- Don’t overwhelm customers with excessive mailing frequency
- Protect your customers and their data from scraping, data-mining and other tactics used to steal data
Stay current as laws change. In Europe, they’re setting new legal expectations for managing personal data. You may not have any markets in Europe. But these kinds of laws could soon apply to you. Follow smart data collection and management practices today to be ready for tomorrow.
6) Interactive Content
27% of surveyed marketers say they’re focused on putting more interactive content in emails. They understand people’s drive to interact. They’re leveraging this to increase open rates and engagement.
Not only do these interactions engage. You can also learn more about your customers based upon how they interact.
Start with basics like social media icons and gifs. As you branch out, find new and interesting ways to be more interactive.
We’ve handpicked a few that are relatively easy to implement. They can have a great impact on your engagement.
Find Out If They
Hate Love Your Emails
Do customers like your emails? How can you best reach them? A simple way to do this is by asking them to rate your email.
This not only gives you valuable insight. It empowers your subscribers. It shows that you listen.
66% of consumers say the #1 thing a business can do to earn loyalty is showing they care about their customers. If you take this feedback and continually improve your email marketing, you show just that.
Carousels allow a person to scroll through several images.
Use them to showcase products you sell. But also think outside the box to engage with carousel-based:
- Storytelling slides
- Listicle-style slides
- Famous quotes
Shopping Cart Updates
When you send out an abandoned cart email, it may look something like this. “Your shopping cart misses you. That item you wanted is still on sale.” Why not also allow customers to update their carts and complete their purchase straight from the email?
With some basic programming, you can create a more seamless user experience.
Widgets, Quizzes Games & Opinion Polls
Finally, add these types of interactive content to entertain, educate and give people a reason to open that email.
You can also use them to acquire emails. Check out Reader’s Digest’s email collection question.
Say “yes”. And you’re prompted to provide your email to receive jokes of the day. Instead of blatantly asking for the email, they engaged the person first. That’s the direction email marketing trends are going in 2018.
7) Text Only
We’ve talked a lot about fancy emails. But many small businesses are finding greater success by keeping it simple.
Let’s look at what’s driving the text-only trend.
According to Business Insider, over 62% of mobile users worldwide now use ad blockers.
Pagefair found that 30% do it for security reasons. 29% do it to avoid interruptions. 16% do it because ads slow pages down.
You may be wondering: What does this have to do with emails.
Our answer: Everything
As ad blockers have increased in use, brands have turned to email as a workaround.
And how did brands use this work around? They saw it as a way to keep sending ads through and opt-in system.
Ask yourself this question. If 70-80% of your subscribers aren’t opening the email, are they really opted in?
For years, we’ve been moving toward bold, colorful and image-rich HTML emails. The emails often take more time to load. They are often shameless ads rather than an engaging email.
Bold and forward emails continue to be effective for huge, well-known and beloved brands like Godiva, REI and Apple.
Small businesses, however, are getting different results. They’re finding that the bolder emails can be very effective in moderation. But their customers are tuning out to constant, colorful, salesy emails.
Based upon the consumer response to emails that overwhelm the senses, more brands are turning to simpler formats. These emails often look more like a message from a friend than a marketing email. That’s why they’re so effective.
On top of that, they’re easier to create, saving you time and money.
Check out this email from a specialty cheese subscription service out of Wisconsin.
It’s definitely an ad. But it doesn’t feel like one.
8) Tell Your Story
Stories have a magical impact on people. Harness this magic for your brand through the storytelling email marketing trends.
Stories not only entertain. They connect with people on an emotional level. They help a subscriber feel like part of your story.
Many consumers aren’t intentionally trying to ignore your email marketing efforts. They subscribed for a reason. They may really like your brand. They want to be a part of it.
But they’re overwhelmed by marketing messages. Everyone’s trying to get their 7 seconds of this person’s attention. A story grabs that attention. It can hold it. People innately want to know what happens next.
What kinds of stories can you tell?
- Why you started this company
- A recent event that reminded you why what you do is so important
- Customer stories that inspired you
- Narratives that lead into the importance of a product/service
One of the most effective storytelling campaigns in recent history has been the Charmin Bears. They increased brand engagement by nearly 600%. They did this through storytelling.
They took an everyday item that no one really wants to talk about. They built a fun, family-friendly narrative around it.
9) Rethinking the Marketing Funnel
Many marketing experts agree. The sales funnel as we have known it is dead. The idea that you just funnel people in until they become your customer is quickly becoming last century marketing. As a small business, you’ve always known that’s not quite right.
You understand the importance of delighting customers, retaining customers and earning their loyalty.
The modern content marketing funnel better represents how people go through the stages of the buyer’s journey.
- Happy Customers (delighted with the purchase, increased upsell and CLV)
- Promoter activity (shares, reviews, loyalty, retention)
This updated funnel recognizes some very important facts.
Customer Retention By the Numbers
You have a 60% chance of selling something to an existing customer. For a new customer, this drops to 5%. Existing customers are 50% more likely to try-out your new offerings.
A company that can increase retention by as little as 5%, will increase sales up to 95%
44% of companies say they’re putting more focus on retention in 2018 than in years past. Yet, only 18% have a strong process in place to retain customers.
Among the email marketing trends we’re seeing, is a greater use of email to engage these existing customers. In fact, 57% of companies say that email is the best way to retain customers.
8 Ways to Engage Existing Customers with Email
- Acknowledge people as existing customers. Don’t treat them like prospects.
- Use customer-specific data to further customize their experience
- Send them exclusive offers and highly valuable content
- Ask for their feedback and implement suggestions when you can
- Integrate them into your brand through user-generated content
- Send them friendly reminders
- Acknowledge milestones with your company
- Let them know how important their reviews and loyalty are
We expect the coming years to usher in innovations in customer retention technologies. Business who use these cutting edge tools will have the competitive advantage over their peers.
10) Using Predictive Analytics to Focus Efforts
Big data is transforming how we reach customers and keep them. One of the big email marketing trends that we expect to only get bigger is using predictive analytics. It streamlines the email marketing budget.
As the name suggests, this type of data helps you to predict consumer behavior. Through it, we can:
- Predict the lifetime value of customers and segment
- Better anticipate consumer behavior to stay a step ahead
- Shift resources to get the greatest ROI possible
Marketing best practices have always existed. But before modern predictive analytics capabilities, much of marketing was seeing what works. Then you measured results on the backend.
Measuring results is still important. But, in many ways, predictive analytics has helped us get it right from the start.
It’s better for small businesses and great for your customers.
Stay Competitive with the Latest Email Marketing Trends
Consumers increasingly prefer that brands engage them through email. Many brands are finding success through more interactive content. Others are finding that text only.
By using the power of AI they can implement the most effective email marketing trends. They achieve the best results.
Implementing these email marketing trends doesn’t have to be complicated. But it does need to work. We can help you get the most out of your marketing budget. We use comprehensive strategies and effective marketing technologies.
Find out how we can help you grow your business. Contact us today.