5 Email Marketing Trends Every Marketer needs to know in 2016

Email marketing, the largest source of income for any digital marketing company, or for that matter any business, has been evolving and setting trends over the years. The evolution has been both technical as well as content related. These changes have happened due to one thing. The subscriber demands them. The reader is king here and whatever works for them, becomes a standard for the email marketer. These changes have taken time to implement and they have surely made the industry refined, faster and competitive. Email marketers are always looking out for the next big thing in email marketing. The bell weathers understand that there is no such thing; it’s going to be a collection of trends. Each year, trends are set and they become best practices.

The industry is large, diverse and highly differentiated. This diversity creates its own challenges. Such challenges need to be understood, and solved, and in the mean time, keeping the customer as your focus. Today, we are bombarded with marketing messages at the rate of over 30 per minute at its highest. This is an incredibly high number. Getting over and above this chatter is the predominant fixation for the email marketer. The trends that we have seen are largely caused by these disruptive marketing techniques. If you are looking at capturing the imagination of your prospect and more importantly, want to hold this attention, then it is crucial to understand the way the industry is moving and keep pace. Further, we will see why email warrants the attention it gets and then close in on the various trends that will shape the future of email marketing in 2016.

Email marketing trends and why email will always be strong

Email marketing has withstood the test of time. From the early days of email communication to its present use as a marketing tool, email has come a long way. What we need to understand here and take note is that it is going to keep going, no matter how much the landscape changes. Maybe the medium through which we interact may change, but email will still stay strong. This is the reason it needs to be part of any digital marketing executive’s arsenal of tools. Here is a graph that shows us clearly why email will have a commanding position over the rest of the digital marketing tools.

This is a clear sign that email cannot be taken for granted. It also means that people are going to use it well and thoroughly. An email marketer has to be able to leverage this favouritism the consumer is clearly showing. Permission based digital marketing is the essence of the future in every way possible and email is leading the way. To this end, another graph shows us that email is surely heading in the right direction.

Graph from GET RESPONSE

There is a dramatic increase in the budget allocated. The Not Sure tab might just increase their budget after they realize that it is indeed worthwhile. This is enough proof that email marketing is looking at staying on the pitch for a really long time!

Email Marketing Trends to watch out in 2016

Mobile email marketing will explode

Mobile Email Marketing

Mobile Email Marketing Trends 2016

More and more emails are getting opened on mobiles, and now- wearable devices. This new trend is soon catching up. Over 53% of emails are opened on mobiles today. Mobile-optimized emails are the in-thing now, and it has become the standard while optimizing emails. Email click through rates are 23% higher on mobiles than on desktops. This means that engagement rates are going to be on the higher side too.

Today, most consumers love using their phones for a variety of things. Emails have to be designed and delivered in such a manner that it makes it easier for the user to fulfil the action faster. According to Business Insider, smart watches, and wearable tech are going to see an increase in usage by over 25% in the next five years. There is a gold mine of opportunity and marketers should be planning and executing on mobile platforms aggressively.

How to optimize for mobile email

  1. Go for either a responsive design or fluid design. Responsive design has codes that recognise the device the email has been opened and accordingly resizes the email for better viewing. Fluid design fits any percentage of screen space available.
  2. Keep subject lines short. The shorter the better. Mobile devices are held in either landscape or portrait mode. The length has to be perfect for both views. The desired limit is 30 characters.
  3. 3-second rule. Optimize your copy so that important information can be read in 3 seconds. 3 seconds is the highest time people devote to reading emails on mobiles. It’s sounds less, but as a matter of fact, it is time enough for someone to take action.
  4. Use your pre-header text space wisely. More importance is given to the pre-header than the subject line in mobile inboxes. Ensure the reader knows the mail is from you, without any doubt.
  5. Vertical AND horizontal. Emails on phones can be read in two ways, so optimize accordingly.
  6. Easily readable fonts help a lot more on mobile than on desktop. Chuck the fancy text.
  7. Limit use of heavy pictures. Firstly, it most probably won’t open, and with data saving techniques on phones, they stand little to no chance. So, make it count.
  8. Focus on your CTAs and make it easy to click.

 Emails compatible for Apple iWatch

Email Compatible

The smart watch impact on email marketers 2016 – Apple iWatch

There is actually a smart way to ensure that your emails open on the Apple Watch. This is a smart move since wearable technology has become increasingly popular and engagement would increase manifold if you can make the wearer see your emails on their watches.

How to do it

HTML emails typically contain two parts—HTML (technically with a Content-Type of text/html) and

Plain Text (text/plain). Apple sent a mail to customers recently and they used a third part: text/watch-html.

It is an additional code in the HTML that is recognised by the Apple Watch. It is going to a rich text version of your original version but you cannot get a multi-column format. The Watch in itself is not able to display HTML and so when this code is added; it automatically changes it into rich text format.

Apple has always been at the forefront of innovation. Another keenly anticipated change will be the introduction of Siri activated headsets that in sync with Apple phones and Watches. This means that all emails delivered to the phones/watches shall be read out to the recipient through Jawbone technology headsets.

Behaviour based marketing

Data has always been an essential element of any type of marketing. It is important to note that data gives us insights that can help us in fine tuning marketing campaigns. The ‘customer journey’ was the catch phrase of 2015 and now, we have to ensure that email marketing and other tools should be aligned to this journey to make it easier, faster and fulfilling for the customer. Data helps immensely on this front. A cross-channel approach, integrating data from all the interactions your customer had with you, and gleaning information from these is the need of the hour. It can boost your marketing message and helps you in connecting with the customer.

How you can run email campaigns based on behaviour

  1. Segment your target audiences based on behaviour metrics. Data segmentation plays an important role here.
  2. Capture behavioural data at every point. Adding to the normal points of data collection, you can always look for various other opportunities such as offline and mobile data interactions such as calls to call centres check-ins, coupon usage and so on.
  3. Automation can be a powerful tool here. Behavioural triggers should be automated for immediate responses.
  4. Highly relevant messages are important while using behavioural targeting. Irrelevant messages can mess your campaigns.

A quantum leap for email marketing can happen sooner than we expect. Email intelligence and machine learning are growing by leaps and bounds. Location-based marketing can take a major step forward such as sending out an email as soon as a prospect is closer to your shop or promoting sun screen when it’s hot-automatically. This is the future of predictive email intelligence and the more we prepare ourselves, the better prepared we are for the inevitable.

Data-driven campaigns

To run any type of cross-channel campaign, personalization, or to developing robust and strong buyer personas, data is the key. Implementing data collection and data analysis can mean the difference between a full disconnect or a sign-up. Use data to fine tune your segments; understand which touch points are working well with a particular set of customers and also for personalization.

A key example for this can be as follows- when you are watching the football World Cup on your connected TV; you will set mails from ESPN, the official broadcaster. It will be at the top of your email inbox. As soon as you step out to your closest convenience store where you have signed up for their marketing program, your inbox will reflect your shopping list you have already updated on your account and an attached shopping coupon. This is the next level of data-driven marketing that takes advantage of multiple touch points such as location, current state of living and it uses a lot of information that was unutilised before.

Hyper Personalization

Personalization was a buzz word a couple of years back in the email marketing sector. Today, it still is, but it has progressed a lot over these years. A dear first name email just doesn’t cut it anymore. Hyper personalization requires you to take advantage of all the data that is available to you. To begin with, you should be collecting the right data. For example- when you get opt-in; send out a survey that asks the subscriber for their location, preferences, and likes. This gives you such a great source of fodder for creating original and highly targeted campaigns. Use it to segment, divide and create responsive templates that are to the liking of the customer.

Appending or enhancing your database is another secret that email marketers use to improve the value of their emails. You get a plethora of information today about your prospects easily. Use this to improve interaction and target them directly.  Personalization helps not just in creating an impression in the mind of your prospect; it helps in building a relationship with them. This can help in customer retention and genuine referrals.

How you can reach the next level of personalisation

  1. Customized email frequency based on individual preferences.
  2. Predictive engagement with personalized emails.
  3. Re-engage customers who are not responding via mail by optimizing your reach through other channels.
  4. Location based dynamic content- content that changes based on the location of opening
  5. Weather- content is tailor made according to the weather if you have products or services for that particular time.
  6. Deadline oriented- time-bound campaigns have a ticker that is updated in real time, each time they open the mail.
  7. Device-specific content and offers

Design your way to success

Hybrid designs that are fluid will become the new standard for email template design. It is moving in progression with web 2.0. Everyone wants to have a seamless experience. When you are actually getting an immersive experience on websites, it should translate to the email template too. Boring HTML designs are passé, and it is time to take advantage of better graphics and high-quality pictures.

Another experimental concept that is gaining traction today is the use of animation and interactive elements. Even though technology updates to email clients have not really backed it up, it is definitely going to be a big part of the evolution of email marketing. As we are looking out for trends, this seems to be the biggest one yet, and it would be good to start working on it sooner than later.

Kinetic mails are the new buzzword in the email marketing sector today. As with any innovation, it has its fair share of naysayers. With design, it is always difficult to break the mould and do something innovative. Designers today, due to technological constraints in email clients, always design according to the lowest common denominator. Kinetic mail is trying to overcome.

Use Kinetic emails to impress

Kinetic mails send interactive mails just by using HTML and CSS. Now that statement is a disruptive one for sure. B&Q retail was the first company to send out Kinetic mails in 2014. It caused a lot of excitement in the otherwise boring industry-design wise. Their emails contained a carousel with multiple thumbnails that would show multiple images over the basic image when users hovered over it. When a non-compatible client received this email, they would get another layout and they could see all the content. Oracle which created this type of email has been lauded as a trend setter in the industry. The only issue comes from the tech compatibility of the major email clients as they have always been sluggish in adopting newer technology.

Conclusion

In the end, it is about capturing the attention of the customer. This means it is paramount to keep it simple, short and utterly irresistible. Content and context will always play a pivotal role. Excellent subject lines, compelling CTAs and landing pages that look like they are hand crafted are all major parts of the equation, and these will never change. Good copy will always be interesting and using it in collusion with all the trends are your best bet at acing the email marketing game. An email will take us to territories unknown, just as it has over these years. It will change as per the convenience of the user. It is imperative that email marketers take this as a sign of the times to come and take it upon themselves to aggressively pursue these changes to stay ahead of the competition.

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