‘Trends’ is a funny word. To many, it suggests a passing bandwagon onboard which only the foolish jump. And, when it comes to email marketing, we’ve seen more than our fair share of them in recent years.
This is arguably a good thing. It demonstrates this form of marketing continues to develop and evolve. Given that email marketing remains one of the most profitable ways to promote your business, the odd passing craze that doesn’t offer any longevity shouldn’t be frowned upon.
In our mind, ‘trend’ indicates a new style, technique or approach that will ultimately stick. Often, the trends end up in the marketing plans of businesses across the world.
So, what are the latest email marketing trends you can’t ignore? Here’s our take!
The rise of the chatbot
Chatbots have already infiltrated marketing – big time. It’s just rare that we realise we’re interacting with them as consumers; they’re that good.
A chatbot is a piece of software that is capable of mimicking human behaviour over digital communication. For instance, if you decide to use an online chat service provided by a business, you may well end up talking to a chatbot. If it’s a good chatbot, you’ll never know the difference. You’ll receive accurate answers to your queries, and all of the pleasantries you’d expect from a human being.
Creepy? Maybe. Unfairly taking jobs away from real human beings? Possibly. But there’s no denying that chatbots, when implemented correctly, save businesses an inordinate amount of time and expense whilst interacting with potential customers during their buying journey.
When it comes to email marketing, it’s relatively early days with chatbots, but the key lies in those aforementioned online chat windows. If you fancy experimenting with a chatbot on your website, you might have a far easier time of signing people to your newsletter.
By making the call-to-action at the end of a chat session “why not sign up to our email list for more help like this?”, you could gain a nice, steady stream of new subscribers who haven’t required any human input to warm up.
Supercharged transactional trends
We all regularly come into contact with transactional emails. They inform us of confirmed orders, delivery dates and when a support query has been received.
Only, that’s it, really; they rarely do anything more. And that’s a missed opportunity as far as the business in question is concerned.
From this year onwards, we should expect to see (and make use of) transactional emails that include marketing components. Special offers, discounted return shops, product recommendations and sales announcement are just some of the things you could do with your transactional emails to change them from notifications to proactive marketing messages.
It’s obvious when you think about it. By the time someone has received a transactional email, they’re already fully engaged with your brand. Why not capitalise on that?
Just like transactional emails, triggered emails (or ‘autoresponders’, as they’re more commonly known), have long been used by email marketers to raise subscriber engagement and build trust.
Unfortunately, they’re also an element of email marketing that is easily forgotten and left to gather dust. Which is a shame, because you can do so much more with triggered emails.
In fact, you can’t have too many, either. So this year and beyond, why not add them to as many customer touch points as possible? The first time someone signs up to your email marketing list is an obvious one, but what about when they buy the new product you recently introduced – wouldn’t it be a good idea to thank them for being one of the early adopters? And what about the customers who spend over a specific amount of you? A hearty “thank you” and discount code sweetener will further wed them to your brand.
Most importantly, triggered emails will be reviewed more regularly and updated with the same marketing messages we noted in the transactional email trend. They’ll become far more than autoresponders!
More mobile optimisation
This might seem like an odd entry in a world where well over 50% of emails are opened on mobile devices. The fact remains there’s still a raft of email communication that isn’t fully optimised for smaller screens.
The noise being made by people like us (yep, we talk relentlessly about the importance of responsive email design) does seem to be getting through. There’s a growing trend for email campaigns to be fully optimised for mobile.
That means big fonts, large call-to-action buttons, fewer images and shorter, more concise copy. If you haven’t jumped fully on this particular long-term bandwagon, it’s time to do so.
Are we sounding like a broken record yet? Good! We can’t talk enough about personalisation because it’s so important when it comes to raising engagement among email subscribers.
Despite this, and just like mobile-readiness, it’s something that hasn’t been fully embraced by every business that undertakes email marketing. Until now.
You’ll doubtless have witnessed the increasing prevalence of personalised emails in your inbox. More and more companies are including personalised intros and subject lines in their messages, but the trend is taking this vital element of email marketing much further.
Personalisation will fast become thing that defines the email content itself. Why send a blanket sales offer to loads of half interested subscribers when you can send tightly-defined and highly relevant offers that appear to be tailored towards individuals? By using CRM and eCommerce tools to track buying histories, browsing histories and enquiry behaviour, businesses will continue to move from mass communication to personalised email.
A reliance on automation
Have you dabbled with automation? We’ve touched on its benefits already in this blog, but with automation playing such a key role in modern marketing strategies, it’ll inevitably continue to become far more relied upon for email.
Email marketing tools are getting more sophisticated by the day, and businesses are waking up to the advantages of letting software do the heavy lifting. With budgets squeezed and overheads a constant threat to sustainability, the prospect of moving repetitive, time-consuming tasks into the digital realm is more tantalising than it has ever been.
Is artificial intelligence (AI) another buzz phrase or something we should all be taking note of?
It’s the latter – trust us. AI is here to stay and is only getting smarter. It is becoming more noticeable in email marketing, too, with machine learning-driven algorithms slowly making their way into affordable tools that enable businesses to determine the right subject lines, content and times to send.
Although it’s early days for AI and email marketing, and unless you have a relatively big budget and time to utilise it fully, it’s one to watch as it filters down the ranks. But we’re getting there, and when it eventually becomes right for the masses, it’ll be seriously advantageous for your business.
The future for email marketing continues to be vibrant, exciting and evolutionary. And, while there’s nothing wrong with sampling some of the more experimental bandwagons, our list above should be at the core of your email marketing strategy for the next twelve months and beyond.