At SmarterHQ, we’re fortunate to work with clients across multiple verticals, integrating with 20+ ESPs to offer highly personalized campaigns tailored to the unique relationship each subscriber has with the Client’s brand. For the last two years, our Campaign Services team has posted the email trends we’re watching closely, and this year is no different. (Here’s 2018’s recap in case you’re curious, and if you’re feeling especially nostalgic, here’s 2017’s.)
These are the top trends we’re tracking in 2019:
1. Email accessibility
A big focus in the email development community over the last couple of years has been creating campaigns that are accessible for people with visual impairments and disabilities, ensuring the best user experience for all subscribers.
Most campaigns can be made accessible with a relatively low level of effort. Mailchimp offers some basic best practices in their guides and tutorials that are a good starting point. For more advanced techniques, Alex Ilhan wrote an excellent guide on Email On Acid’s blog. Those targeting MS Outlook can find information on the Microsoft site specific to Outlook here, and the Email Monks have an excellent primer that can be found here.
2. Interactive email
Interactive email, a trend that we were also watching last year, continued to gain wider use in 2018 and doesn’t seem to be slowing. Widespread interactive email seemed far off only a couple of years ago, but we’re now seeing it used in a variety of campaigns by multiple brands. Additionally, interactive emails are no longer confined to things like drop-down menus and hover effects—we’ve seen campaigns with search functionality, user reviews, interactive quizzes and graphs, and a variety of other interactions.
Campaign Monitor published this piece making the case for why brands would want to undertake interactive campaigns. To further help get you started, SparkPost came through early last year with a post covering four use cases to consider. With the acquisition of the innovative Rebel Mail by Salesforce Marketing Cloud late last year, we’re likely to see wider and more marketer-friendly use cases across a variety of customer bases.
3. Less is more
Campaign Services Team’s personal choice for 2019: We’ve noticed our clients and the brands we follow getting back to the basics, simplifying campaigns by moving away from image-heavy messaging, and focusing on clearer, concise content with effective subject lines that drive open rates. We’re always inspired by what we see happening in the email community at large, and there’s no better place than Really Good Emails for inspiration.
4. Targeting subscriber email clients
As marketers become savvier about the ways that their subscribers are viewing and interacting with their campaigns, we’ve seen less of a focus on targeting all email clients. There’s now a greater focus on developing campaigns and designing elements for the email clients their subscribers are using, thus providing the best user experience for their specific audience without limiting their designs.
Mail for iOS, Gmail, and Outlook are generally the top three clients used by most subscribers, as seen reflected on the Litmus Email Client Share report. (Sidenote: Their blog and community offers many excellent resources for writing and troubleshooting email client specific code.) Email on Acid also has a variety of resources for targeting specific email client peculiarities on the email development section of their blog, which can save time and frustration when building out new campaigns.
5. Putting personalization first
Personalization is no longer a ‘nice to have’ in your campaigns—it’s a foundational element to keeping your subscribers engaged with your brand. In fact, based upon our recent findings (to be released in a new report this spring), 72% of subscribers now say they will only engage with offers that have been personalized to their own tastes. With that demand, personalization is the top priority for brands, but there’s still a long way to go on the email front with only 30% of marketers saying they actually send more personalized/behavioral emails over mass sends.
Our platform provides plenty of capabilities to make personalization easier to execute, starting with customer identity resolution—creating a single identity for subscribers across email addresses, touchpoints, channels, and devices. This is key to delivering accurate, immediate, and individualized messages to subscribers, no matter which channel or device they choose to interact with your brand at any given time. Forrester has some great info on this. If you’re new to personalized campaigns beyond subscriber identifiers such as first name, personalizing your blast sends is a good place to start and can help to develop further user-specific targeted campaigns.
Want to learn more about SmarterHQ and how we make it easier to deliver highly personalized, cross-channel customer experiences? Request a demo.