No Bullsh*t Advice From Email Experts
As much as we love email as a tried-and-true marketing channel, it is always evolving. This has especially reigned true over the last few years. GDPR, a global pandemic, and recent Apple privacy updates have rewarded those email marketers who can spot trends ahead of time and adapt accordingly.
So for our first installment of No Bullsh*t Advice, we asked our panel of email experts to pull out their crystal balls to predict email marketing trends for 2022, so email marketers know what to watch for in the new year.
This month experts from dotdigital, Benchmark Email, iContact, emailmonday, Netcore Cloud & Email Uplers to share email trends to watch and what email marketers should resolve to do to stay on top of email industry changes.
Here’s what they had to say…
Stay Flexible & Pivot To Industry Changes
Marketing trends articles have become standard fare every January in the email industry. I often find it challenging to think of something novel to say year on year when we all know we’re becoming more mobile- and digitally orientated. If anything, we’ve become digitally mature; so rather than do more, we need to do what we do not just right, but better.
Mobile optimization is by no means a new trend but it is still painfully unadhered to. We live in a world dominated by smartphones. Unless you’re at work, you’re more likely to open an email and browse your favorite e-store on your mobile. By 2025 there will be 4,594 million email users worldwide – and you can bet that the vast majority will open most of their emails on their handheld device.
Optimizing your email templates is becoming more and more important every year – so now’s the time to get it right. There’s nothing worse than a poorly rendered email or one that doesn’t even load. How will contacts see your amazing products and promotions then?
Loyalty programs are super-important for customer retention. But they can also help you tailor the customer experience by asking for more key data. This allows loyalty schemes to become even more personalized with hyper-tailored offers.
It’s important to remember that loyalty emails are designed not only to induce customers to repurchase, but enhance the overall experience. Happy customers mean more referrals to supplement your business growth.
RFM goes beyond regular segmentation in effectively bolstering conversion rates. If you dive more into customer’s behavioural data, such as purchase history, you can better target them with a tailored proposition.
Looking at the recency, frequency and monetary value of customer orders is an insightful way to further personalize your email campaigns. Through marketing automation, you can trigger email messages and product recommendations that align with customers’ past engagements – based on what and when they’ve bought, how often and for how much.
One thing to bear in mind is that your audience insights are always changing, so it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your segments for any behavioral trends or patterns you could tap into. What’s more, using RFM in conjunction with demographic and preference information can make your email campaigns all the more powerful.
In 2022 your main resolution should be to stay flexible and pivot to industry changes. Doing things how they’ve always been done is often a recipe for stagnation. You’ll only get left in the lurch while the competition thrives. So, try things a little differently and measure against past results. That’s the way to get ahead this year.
Focus On Your First-Party Data Strategy
The key to successful email engagement and conversions is, and always will be, centered on how well the marketer knows and understands who they’re sending emails to. This goes beyond a name and an email address.
Marketers have to tap into very specific data, like a user’s purchase history, whether or not the user is following or interacting with them on social media, product pages the user is clicking on, the content they’re downloading, etc.
With Google Chrome’s impending cookie cutting, gathering this first-party data is even more crucial for marketers.
With third-party data being severely restricted, marketers need to make their New Year’s resolution about prioritizing a first-part data strategy. But it doesn’t stop there. They also need to focus on how they can use AI to create content and trigger personalized email campaigns so they can maintain a strategy that focuses on putting the user’s needs first.
By accessing first-party data through website forms, landing pages, and a CRM tool, you’ll be able to keep track of the data you need to keep your emails personalized. And, by using AI to fuel your automation efforts, you can capitalize on things like:
- List segmentation, so you can section users into lists with those who share certain characteristics as they do and create tailored emails for each list.
- The buyer’s journey, identifying where each user is so you can send content that moves them from one stage to the next.
- Send-time, ensuring you’re delivering your personalized emails when the recipient is most likely to open and engage with them.
AI can also help you create campaigns that take personalization one step further. With the ability to tap into and break down tons of data, AI helps you create hyper-personalized campaigns that all of your users enjoy, no matter how robust your list becomes over time.
Make 2022 the year you focus on your first-party data strategy and how AI can assist you with making your email content super personalized and automated.
Go Old School With Your Digital Marketing Efforts
We are entering a new era, or maybe just going back in time? I have to say that I knew this was coming, the privacy movement. In the past, people wanted more for less. But that was not enough. They also wanted free stuff—free apps, free software, and free food (if they can get it).
It was fine for a while. I give you data and I get free stuff? Deal!
Fast forward a few years. Now people are upset and complaining about what data brands collect about them. Did they think that there really was such a thing as a free meal?
We are only hurting ourselves by not allowing marketers to collect data. This allows them to serve relevant ads. I mean, I am not ready for Silver Single ads, but if I do not supply data, how would they know what I want?
To combat the fact that marketers will have less or less accurate data in 2022, we need to go old school with our digital marketing efforts. How about creating valuable and compelling content that users want to consume? Let’s go Mad Men on them!
Since third-party data is going the way of the Dodo, focus on collecting first-party data, information you control. Ask for more information on your signup and order forms, use surveys, integrate with your CRM, E-commerce platform and more to obtain data to help segment and automate your email marketing efforts.
Remember what is old is now new! Can we now bring back mullets and bell-bottom jeans? Wait, I think that already happened. I really wish that I kept my 90’s clothes for my kids!
My message is simple, get back to basics and create great looking emails supported by even better content! In the end, people want to feel entertained and valued.
Use Topical Audiences To Build Newsletter Opt-Ins & Content
What stood out for me is that major publishers are creating separate single-topical email newsletters. Also, we saw a resurgence of paid newsletters, often from journalists or authors. It is a part of the bigger creator economy trend. You may have heard the saying, “every brand is a publisher,” well, anyone can be their own publisher today.
This is double interesting for small businesses, employees and personal brands. Creativity can work as a big reach amplifier.
In the “practice what you preach” department, I started posting daily on Linkedin in December. It is mainly about email marketing, strategy, content, SaaS and business. Be sure to have a look at my feed (and place a comment).
Posting daily has been a great source of inspiration and the feedback/comments and interactions you get are invaluable. A post is not an “end result,” more of a conversation starter – I do like to add some takeaways here and there. But just best practices make for a very educational but “lame” content flow. Especially if part of your audience are your peers/experts themselves.
Linkedin is definitely a big channel for B2B. It introduced a Linkedin newsletter function, allowing you to send your content in a “newsletter-esque” way. Haven’t tried it, think I’ll stick to a “real” newsletter for now, but certainly worth having a look into this year.
Coming back on the creator economy, one topic newsletter and how you can use these.
Here is a small content planning exercise:
- Research the hot & trending topics in your industry and how this ties back to your products and services.
- Serialize your evergreen content, even if they are pre-made on-demand webinars or evergreen blogs. When cutting bigger pieces up into smaller, digestible bits, it is easier to consistently publish and retain attention.
- Mix your new content with repurposed/updated pieces; just have the recurring theme in there.
- Rinse and repeat for the next topic.
You can use the content as an extension for blogs as well. The added benefit is that you use SEO reporting tools to get insights into which content is performing well, is popular, and gets a lot of organic reach.
Some list building tools can show contextual prompts, in-text, slide-in, dynamic popup alongside your topical blogs. E.g., “Want to keep up to date on topic X? Subscribe here”. Your content, in effect, becomes a landing page. Now sharing and distributing your content is a step towards your new landing page and the subscription becomes the campaign goal.
Or even a small quiz, calculator, etc., to find out the interest on an individual level. What does your audience care about? What are they concerned about? What makes them happy, angry, or interested – today, right now? Once you have established their preferences, segmentation and reader engagement will come by itself. With a triggered email autoresponder series, your ONE topic newsletter is in reach.
Find Creative Ways to Measure Engagment & Collect Data
Email marketing was a roller-coaster in 2021.
Seatbelts fastened or not, we all went through the ride!
Despite the year’s uncertainties, I saw the sustenance of marketing plans made in 2020.
Marketers had created a digital marketing machine in 2020, and they made sure it ran smoothly in 2021.
Email Trends & predictions:
As we step into 2022, I predict these two trends out of the many to shape your email programs:
- Marketers will find creative ways to track and measure the engagement
With Apple iOS15 already spiking open rates globally, senders will continue to make their emails interactive and engaging. The goal will be to receive positive signals from recipients that can be tracked and measured for customer intent. In my opinion, powerful storytelling and compelling narratives will matter more than interactive tech.
Surprisingly, only 23% of email marketers say they have used interactive elements (according to Litmus research). Senders should make a move while it’s not crowded yet; they need to start sending interactive emails to gauge customer responses better.
It remains to be seen if AMP for emails gains traction, but interactivity and gamification will definitely increase inside promotional emails. Getting users to reply, forward emails, or provide a thumbs up at the end of the email would be considered a huge plus for engagement.
- Innovation in zero-party data collection will emerge
With data privacy policies getting stricter, the focus will shift to collecting more zero-party data. Brand marketers will get innovative in acquiring more customer details to create personalized shopping experiences.
Zero-party data sources (like website and newsletter preference centers, email surveys, quizzes, social media polls) will help engage customers meaningfully and build stronger bonds. Marketers will rely more on customer preferences to design relevant content.
With the right zero-party data collection approach, customers will share personal information with which they are comfortable. It will enable you to send offers and benefits that are relevant and customized.
- Send atomic emails to nurture audience and boost attention span
Send your audience a series of short emails (microns) to develop a relationship with them. Ask for opinions, start a conversation, include a response question, or ask for feedback.
Not every email needs to have “buy from me” content. Use email microns to your advantage in 2022: we have seen them working wonders with our global clients.
- Keep user privacy central to all marketing decisions
Data privacy remains a hot topic, and users are increasingly worried about how their personal information is being shared. So, go beyond honoring GDPR, CASL, CCPA, and CAN-SPAM to gain the trust of their subscribers in 2022. Follow regional data privacy guidelines to avoid penalties.
Communicate how well you follow all privacy guidelines and protect consumers’ data. Demonstrating such business ethics will win customer loyalty and trust.
- Make CLV your north star metric
Research by Gartner says that 39% of global CMOs plan to increase the sales of current products to existing customers. Retaining high-value customers for the longer term will be essential for 2022. Start a loyalty program for your business if you don’t have one yet.
Making customer lifetime value (CLV) as your primary metric has the following pros:
- You can accurately know your high and low spending customers.
- Get a 360-degree understanding of what drives customer retention and value estimation
- Embrace advanced technologies to send intelligent emails
Your need for intelligent, experience-driven emails is set to become more critical in 2022. AI is no longer an outsider in email marketing. It is sitting at the main table, and marketers are taking notice. You would do well to adopt AI technologies in your email marketing to anticipate, plan, and satisfy 1:1 customer needs.
AI can reduce the workload and offer insights to boost revenue, optimize content, reduce costs, and enhance deliverability. All of this within minutes.
I hope you adopt at least one of the above initiatives to score big with your email programs in the coming year. Happy 2022! 🙂
Automate Where You Can & Strive for Greater Interactivity & Accessibility
Email has come a really long way, and it’s all been in the pursuit of greater engagement and ROI, which email marketers have strived to achieve through better targeting, design, and accessibility.
We’ve seen email gaining even more importance in the past couple of years, and there can be no better time to make the most of this marketing channel for businesses. So, what email marketing trends do I foresee for 2022?
Here’re a few:
More focus on email marketing AUTOMATION
Automation is a boon for email marketers as it ensures consistent communication between your brand and your subscribers. We will see more marketers and organizations joining the email automation and drip campaign bandwagon.
It is now an established fact that drip email campaigns tend to perform better than regular email campaigns. With drips, you can develop a stronger relationship with your subscriber by adapting a friendlier approach.
Resolution to set:
- Automate transactional emails to customers
- Automate the onboarding process
- Automate the lead nurturing process
Taking INTERACTIVITY more seriously
I expect to see more marketers leverage the power of interactivity in emails. So, there will be more brand emails exploring surveys, gamification, menus, flip and scratch effects – all types of actions that can be performed inside the email itself.
These elements not only make the emails engaging but also lessen the steps required to drive a certain action.
Resolution to set:
- Create interactive emails for special occasions
- Make sure you have a fallback in place
Laying emphasis on ACCESSIBILITY
If accessibility has not been your priority, think again. Around 15% of the world’s population lives with some form of disability. Now, considering the fact that 4.03 billion people use email every day, and it’s the topmost channel when it comes to ROI, accessibility becomes worth the investment. You can look forward to better reach, brand recognition, and overall, a great user experience for everyone.
Resolution to set:
- Ensure your fonts and graphics are crystal clear
- Create dark mode emails
- Create emails with screen readers in mind
We at Email Uplers got in touch with 41 email experts to see what they foresee for email in 2022, and we’ve put together their insightful views in this neat infographic.
More No Bullsh*t Advice From Email Experts Coming Soon
And as always, feel free to share your thoughts with us on Twitter.
Keep your list healthy and boost campaign performance by regularly cleaning your email list. We’ll let you know which email addresses are good, bad and risky, before you hit send.
Your first 100 verifications are on us. Verify for Free