Email marketing trends for 2023 and beyond
Email marketing is one of the most direct ways brands can communicate with their audiences. But email marketing expectations and best practices are constantly changing, often leaving marketers scrambling after the latest and most effective trends.
Adobe helps a lot of brands stay current on email marketing practices, and we’re happy to share those insights. In this article, we’ll cover some of the biggest email marketing trends that will drive success in 2023 — from hyper-personalization and AI to interactivity and more.
The email marketing trends we’ll go over are:
- New primary KPIs
- AI and automation
- User-generated content
- Interactive emails
- Interesting, adaptable, and accessible design
- Customer appreciation
- Data privacy
1. New primary key performance indicators (KPIs)
The way marketers measure and track the success of their emails is changing. For years, open rate was the most important email metric, but marketers today aren’t considering it as strong of a signal as it once was.
This is partly because of Apple’s new privacy updates — including mail privacy protection (MPP) — which prevent marketers from gathering accurate open rate data. Marketers can no longer see which device email recipients are using, where they open emails, or when they open emails. MPP also obscures whether someone actually opened an email or just previewed it.
There’s no clear replacement metric for open rate, so the KPIs you use will likely depend on the type of campaign you’re running. Click-through rate (CTR), conversion, and other engagement metrics — downstream of someone actually opening an email — are good places to start.
Most marketers already segment audiences in order to tailor email marketing campaigns to specific groups, optimizing conversion rates. But with the wealth of data available, you can segment further than basic demographics.
Microsegmentation helps marketers target niche audiences based on behavior, sentiment, shopping patterns, precise location, seasonality, and more. This detailed organization usually requires robust digital marketing software, but it’s extremely effective.
For example, microsegmentation allows outdoor brands to promote snow gear to audiences in different climates at the right time — or even after a local winter storm. Or a SaaS brand that offers HR software might use microsegmentation to reach out to companies that are growing or actively hiring for several positions.
Personalization is the norm for digital marketing, but it's no longer enough to put the customer’s name in an email. Buyers want to feel like they have a special relationship with your business and that requires more detailed personalization.
Customize your messaging to each microsegment of your mailing list — or each individual. Take advantage of dynamic content, user data, and automated messaging capabilities to adapt to recipient behavior. Hyper-personalization might include:
- Birthday emails with a unique discount code.
- A push notification when a customer enters a physical store.
- An email reminding the user of an abandoned cart item.
Jack Wills makes a reminder email feel personalized and helpful by “saving” the items the user put in his cart. The text reads less like a sales push and more like a personal favor. The email does guide the user back to the site with a big RETURN TO MY ITEMS button.
To hyper-personalize and stand out, you need to collect and use as much customer data as possible. Many buyers will provide their data if they believe they will get a high-quality personalized experience.
4. AI and automation
One of the fastest growing trends in email marketing is the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation to streamline and enhance email campaigns. AI can clean up mailing lists, predict effective subject lines based on historical data, and identify inefficiencies in your campaigns — and that’s just what’s possible right now. The potential of AI is limitless, and the use cases will only improve over time.
Automation makes campaigns run smoothly and reduces manual workloads. For example, any transactional emails should be sent automatically. More complex, personalized emails can be based on dynamic templates that automatically populate with customer data. Automation can send emails after specific customer behaviors like cart abandonment or low site visits.
Tradegecko’s email is an example of using automation to check on customers who haven’t engaged in a while. The AI recognized low activity since the user signed up and sent an email. The messaging goes beyond a simple reminder by providing next steps like setting up their account and importing inventory. Using AI to track engagement and automation to send out the appropriate email saves your marketing team time and resources.
5. User-generated content
User-generated content is a simple way to appeal directly to your audience in your emails. Most buyers consider customer testimonials more trustworthy than a product description or marketing message. Including customer reviews, photos, or video testimonials in your emails gives other users peace of mind and helps convince customers to make a purchase.
User-generated content also saves you time. Instead of brainstorming email concepts, you can sift through customer reviews or reach out to customers directly. Transform all that inspiration into email content.
This email from Subaru takes advantage of user-generated content to build brand loyalty. Subaru markets itself as a lifestyle brand, so sharing tips from other owners creates a sense of community and deepens customer relationships.
6. Interactive emails
It takes a lot for someone to click through your email, so you need to provide an incentive. Adding interactive components to your emails like rollover image effects, CTA buttons, polls, and mini-games can dramatically increase click through rates. According to Mailmodo, marketers saw a 10% rise in conversion when using interactive emails.
Some interactive components, like surveys, have the added benefit of contributing to your customer database. Knowing what customers like or dislike can inform not only new marketing campaigns but even product roadmaps.
Try split testing interactive components to see which ones work best. It may take some experimentation to see a difference in CTR, but the increase in engagement is worth the time and effort.
Google places the product front and center in this email and encourages users to explore various color options. Seeing how the look and feel changes with the color is engaging and inspires them to think about what it would be like to own a pair of Pixel Buds.
Accelerated mobile pages (AMP) make it easy to build interactive emails without needing to code. AMP is an open framework that gives you the freedom to create emails where users can fill forms, scroll through a catalog, schedule appointments, and more — all updated in real time. The low barrier of entry AMP allows marketers to quickly begin experimenting with interactive mails.
7. Interesting, adaptable, and accessible design
Email design is always evolving but there are three clear strategies taking over.
- Interesting. There are plenty of ways to catch people’s attention even without interactive elements. Study your microsegments and experiment with beautiful illustrations, animations, or GIFs. Remember, you only have a few seconds to pique a customer’s interest, so whatever designs you choose should be easy to parse and visually friendly.
- Adaptable. Think about how various audiences use your product and incorporate that into your imagery. For example, the same pair of athletic shoes might be used for indoor sports, outdoor adventures, or fashion. Use images that show every option.
- Accessible. You never know how or where customers will be viewing your email, and you want it to look good no matter what. Regardless of the visual elements you use, ensure your emails are optimized for mobile. Build in dark mode design elements to accommodate people who have activated that setting. And make sure your emails are accessible with descriptive alt text.
8. Customer appreciation
Building strong customer relationships is key to effective email marketing. Making them feel appreciated and heard will keep them coming back for more. Thank customers for their purchases and acknowledge their interactions with your brand. Remember to send them emails for milestones like birthdays or anniversaries. Try combining these emails with a special offer, early access to a product, or discount to increase engagement and customer positivity.
In this email, McDonald’s takes customer appreciation to the next level. Not only have they segmented this email to customers that identify as first responders and healthcare workers, but they are also explicitly thanking them for their service by offering a free meal. They use concise yet heartfelt language and make it easy to understand how to redeem the offer.
9. Data privacy
Many email marketing trends depend heavily on customer data — meaning you have to be more privacy-conscious than ever. Keeping customer data as safe as possible is a legal obligation and a way to establish trust with your buyers. One data breach is all it takes to alienate audiences forever.
Put customers in the driver’s seat. According to the Adobe Trust Report 81% of consumerswant a say in how companies use their data. Give them the option to unsubscribe from your mailing list and provide a list of email preferences they are able to set themselves. Be transparent about how you’re collecting and using their data, and reassure them that their data is being kept safely.
Getting started with email marketing
Email marketing trends are always evolving, but using data to hone in on customer preferences and tailor your campaigns to their wants and needs is here to stay. AI, automation, microsegmentation, and personalization all require significant data to optimize campaign performance.
The first step in taking advantage of these email marketing trends is finding an email solution that can provide a tailored experience to every single customer.
Adobe Campaign uses your customer data to create and deliver dynamic messaging on desktop or mobile devices. Campaign is so easy to use that it increases customer ROI while decreasing the total cost of ownership.