2017 Email Marketing Trends and the Future of Email Marketing

Email marketing is an important element of digital marketing campaigns that is here to stay.  However, it is important to continue to develop and adjust your email marketing campaign because email tactics and audience behavior are constantly changing.  Email marketing is one of the few marketing strategies in which companies can reach out to their audience or customers directly.  Staying on top of the current trends, as well as future predictions from experts in the field, can help you adjust your email marketing campaign and improve your open rate and engagement.  With so many opportunities to engage with your customers from interactive emails to embedded videos, there is always room to grow your email campaign.

This guide covers the top email marketing trends of 2017 as well as future trends predicted by experts in the field.

Finding Email Marketing Trends for 2017

Digital email marketingEmail marketing trends are written about extensively by marketers and other experts which can lead to an information overload when doing your own research.  To get a better idea of where email marketers believe these trends are heading, Litmus asked over 1,200 marketers in the field to name the most important 2017 trends.  The following are the four most prominent trends named in Litmus’ survey:

  • Interactive Emails: Many companies have interactive home pages on their website that include things like image sliders, menus, and others, and many marketing experts believe that this is one of the biggest email marketing trends of 2017. You can make your emails more interactive for those on your email list by adding image galleries, special offers, and even add-to-cart functionality to encourage engagement.  There are still some challenges with interactive emails including implementations and tracking the engagement.
  • Big Data Personalization: The idea of big data personalization, the integration of data silos so that marketers can create more personalized messages to the individuals of their target audience, has gained some traction in 2017. However, this level of data integration is a complex process that will still take time to develop.
  • HTML5 Video: Embedding videos on landing pages and home pages is already a fast-growing trend because it has been showed to drastically increase engagement and conversion rates. Therefore, it makes sense to embed videos into your emails to help improve brand awareness and customer engagement.
  • Automated and Triggered Emails: Many larger brands are already using automated emails, but more email marketers are realizing the importance of using automated or triggered emails to increase engagement. You can set up automated messages such as welcome emails for those who create an account or join your email list, as well as cart abandonment emails to follow up with customers who started a purchase but did not finish.

These four major trends that have emerged from the Litmus survey give us a broad idea of where email marketing is headed in 2017 and beyond.  Expert Sender puts out an email marketing trendbook each year with the top email marketing trends that their experts believe all email marketers should know about.  The following is a summary of the 8 trends named by Expert Sender’s marketing experts that are more specific than those from the Litmus survey.  You can download a free copy of the 2017 Email Marketing Trendbook for more on these trends.

  • Triggered Emails from Chatbots: Triggered emails is one of the big email marketing trends named by the experts in the Litmus survey. The marketers from Expert Sender believe that chatbots will begin sending automated messages to customers as well after interacting with them through a website.  They expect chatbots to soon send newsletter sign ups, confirmation emails, and abandoned cart emails using personalized customer data gathered from the chat.
  • Shorter Emails: More people read their email on mobile phones than on computers which has led to some changes in email design and length. In 2016, the best length for email content was thought to be between 50 and 125 words.  The optimal content length for emails will get shorter with more people checking their email on mobile devices.
  • Eye-Tracking: Eye-tracking has been used to test consumer behavior on websites, and it is starting to be used for email marketing as well. The hardware for eye-tracking is becoming more affordable, making it possible for more email marketers to use it with their campaigns.
  • Real-Time Email Context: Real-time contextual data from various sources, such as geo-location, trends, and weather will be incorporated more into marketing emails. The sources will provide the user with real-time data at the moment they open the email.
  • Predictive Lead Scoring: More companies are using forms of artificial intelligence like Machine Learning to create a predictive automatic lead score based on consumer behavior.
  • Conversational Tone: Marketers are changing the tone of their emails to seem less informational, and more conversational to better connect with and engage consumers. Messages with a more casual tone will resonate better with your audience and help them make a personal connection with your brand.
  • Content Matching: This idea comes from the broader trend that appeared in the Litmus survey about integrating data silos to create more personal messages for targeted individuals. The marketers of Expert Sender believe that more marketers will look into using machines to integrate data silos automatically and match content for specific customers.
  • Cross-Channel Data Integration: Right now, most consumer data exists in separate silos. The emerging trend is that these silos will soon breakdown so that behavior, demographic, and transactional data will be integrated to create a single consumer profile.

Email Marketing Trends for 2017 that You Can Use

Why Email MarketingStaying informed on the email marketing predictions from the experts is important, but what can you use today to improve your email marketing campaign?  Some of the big trends already discussed such as data integration and automation have yet to be perfected for efficient use.  There is also changing consumer behavior to account for as consumers engage more with personalized and interactive emails.  The following email marketing practices from Mailjet will help you evolve your email marketing campaign for 2017:

  1. Personalization: Personalization of your email messages involves much more than just putting the first name of your customers at the beginning. True personalization involves analyzing your data and looking for trends among certain segments of your customers so you can adapt and deliver what they want.  For example, if there is a major trend among a certain age demographic, then you can target that demographic specifically to send more relevant messages.
  2. Brand Storytelling: Creating brand awareness is not enough, the trick is to create a personal or emotional connection between your brand and the consumer. This starts with understanding the journey of your customers and creating a story that relates to their journey, as well as your brand.  Engaging your customers in your story can lead them to your products that can aide them on their journey.
  3. Transactional Emails: Many companies have marketing teams that handle their marketing emails, but have their tech departments handle their transactional emails. It is important for both types of emails to be run by the same team so that there is consistency in the look and tone of your emails.  Your transactional emails should engage with the customer journey the way your marketing emails do, and lead them to the products that need or desire.
  4. Trust Artificial Intelligence: While more email marketers are beginning to trust artificial intelligence to interpret their customer data, there are a fair amount who do not. The technology for email automation is getting better and easier to use, and it can help ensure that you get your customers the right message at the right time.
  5. Interactive Email: Creating relevant and engaging content for your emails is important. The next step is to get your customers to engage with the email without leaving their inbox.  Put interactive features in your email such as a shopping cart so that customers can make a purchase without leaving the email message.

The Future of Email Marketing: Email Marketing Trends for 2020

The year 2020 is not as far off into the future as it seems.  As mentioned earlier, many of these email marketing trends emerging in 2017 may take a couple of years to fully develop, and small businesses in particular will need to jump on these trends to keep up.  Clate Mask of Infusionsoft lists the following email marketing trends that he believes will happen by the year 2020:

  • Email marketing is here to stay and will only continue to grow. Businesses may find themselves sending more emails per year which means more emails per customer.
  • Sending out mass email blasts is a dying strategy that should be gone by 2020. Remember, personalization of emails is on the rise because consumers are less interested in generic, non-relevant emails.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software are continuing to improve, which will help small businesses use automation software more easily with their email marketing campaigns. Mask predicts that it will be much more difficult for small businesses to compete without some automation software, and fortunately, automation software is becoming much easier to use and more seamless.  This will help small businesses improve on the personalization aspect of their email marketing campaigns.
  • Email providers will make it more difficult for marketing emails to reach consumer inboxes with restrictive algorithms that will mark it as spam. Email service providers (ESPs) will continue to keep up with these algorithms, and working with an ESP will help a small business stay in compliance with the algorithm updates.
  • The ROI of email marketing campaigns should increase between now and 2020. Email marketing already has a higher ROI than most marketing tactics, and the improvement in AI software for personalization and targeting will lower the cost of email marketing for businesses.  This will also help improve the conversion rate of each email.

The major email marketing trends of 2017 show an emphasis on customer personalization which includes data integration, email automation, and interactive emails that include features that your customers can engage with right in their inboxes.  In summary, the trends of email marketing are moving towards creating a more personal connection with your customers and sending them interactive messages that are relevant to their customer journey.  Email automation and data integration software is still developing, but marketing experts believe that this software will be easy to use and cost effective for small businesses.  By integrating these ideas into your email marketing campaign, you can improve customer engagement, conversion rates, and general ROI, as well as set your company up for future success.


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