Email marketing is more than just a good standby tactic for marketers. According to Statista, it ties in second place with digital advertising as America’s most popular marketing method. Twenty-three percent of small business owners saw it as an important tactic going forward into 2019.
We can expect email marketing to be at least as popular in 2020. This time around, though, email marketing’s getting a facelift. If you’re still using the same tired strategy as you did five years ago, listen up.
In this post, we’re looking at the trends that will redefine email marketing in 2020.
This is a guest post by Chris Usatenko, growth marketing and blogger.
Email marketing in 2020: the age of automation
Advancements in artificial intelligence have changed the game with email marketing. Initial advancements in the AI centered on better cybersecurity. Anti-phishing and anti-malware measures are still important priorities, but AI is now adept at sniffing out emails with malicious intent.
In 2020, we’ll focus more on harnessing big data for email marketing campaigns correctly.
AI and big data will pave the way for email marketing to become more accurate, personalized, and better integrated into cross-channel campaigns. It will be easier to create benchmark parameters thanks to machine learning and more automation.
Smart email programs will be able to identify the stage of the buying process that the consumer is in. This will lead to better-timed responses to basic marketing cues. More importantly, though, it paves the way for more accurate, automatic reporting.
AI saves marketers time. Are you making the most of it?
AI will be able to start running tedious tasks like split testing and analyzing the results. Thus, marketers will have more time to spend on more productive tasks.
Automation is already making marketers’ lives easier with tasks like email validation. Manually checking lists is so last millennium. Now all you have to do is plug your list into the software, and it will do the rest.
Automation will also improve workflows and boost the efficiency of teams. AI will make following up on leads in emails a lot simpler as well. We’re not quite at the point of AI being able to read and respond to potential leads and queries via email exactly as a human would, but we’re not far off.
You can integrate mail bots with your email provider. Right now, they perform relatively simple tasks. This may be an auto-reply to tell a client that their message was received and has been added to the queue.
Bots will perform more complex tasks
In 2020, we’ll see these mail bots becoming far more advanced. These bots use similar technology to chatbots. With AI becoming more able to understand the context of written text, the forecast for the mail bots is bright.
In the future, you won’t even need a human to man your mailbox. AI will be able to do this for you very competently. For marketers this will have significant advantages. AI will be able to search through leads and sort out the most promising ones.
These leads could be referred to an in-house sales team for nurturing. AI will be able to recognize the context of the email as well. Most likely, it will tie into the inventory system of the company. Client queries about the availability of stock and similar queries will be handled automatically.
What’s more, AI may highlight upselling or cross-selling opportunities. Then, it could forward these leads directly to the sales team. At some stage, it might even make recommendations directly to the client.
The future of email automation is very bright indeed. It’ll be interesting to see what advances we’ll make in the next ten years.
More user-generated content
Are you ready to jump off the wheel of continually creating content? Then you’re going to enjoy this development. User-generated content will be significant going forward.
What is user-generated content?
It’s content that you gather from your end-user. This concept that takes full advantage of the power of word-of-mouth recommendations. Plus, it can take many forms and it’s completely unscripted, so seems more genuine.
User-generated content may be in the form of:
- Reviews from clients. These will play as unsolicited reviews and so count for more. In the past, we’ve stuck mainly to email content that quotes reviewers. In 2020, we’ll have reviews from the clients themselves.
- Video or images of clients using the product. The rise of influencer marketing showed us that consumers listen to people that they can relate to. Using user-generated content helps us take advantage of this urge towards relatable brand ambassadors.
- Content about something that’s important to users. Perhaps it’s video footage of the latest parade held in town. Maybe it’s something as simple as the local choir’s performance at a competition. It doesn’t matter – this content is about your consumers, not your company.
We could name many more examples. The takeaway here, though, is that we’re steering more towards creating a community. By using user-generated content, you don’t have to tell anyone how great your product is. Your clients will do that themselves.
The knock-on benefit is that the content providers will feel that you appreciate their input. It also doesn’t hurt that you’re not doing much work to get the content.
How do you get user-generated content?
Would you believe that it’s merely a case of asking for it at the right time? It can be as simple as a follow-up email to a client, asking them how they liked the product. This can be an automated response, set for about a week or so of them receiving the item.
There are many other ways to drive content. For instance, why not have a contest asking clients for three words to sum up your product? Offer clients incentives to create content for you to use, especially if the content involves more work.
Firing off a quick answer to an email is simple enough for a client. If you want them to pick up their phone and give a video review, you might need to up the ante a little. The reward might be something simple, like a discount voucher on their next purchase, a small gift, or free shipping.
Encourage engagement by using interactive emails
The human attention span is now lower than that of a goldfish. You’ve got about eight seconds to convince your reader that your email’s worthwhile.
The standard page-long text email will no longer cut it. So you’re going to have to get more creative by adding interactive elements. Here’s the rub, though – you’ll have to so without adding significant bulk to the email.
Hyperlinks in the text that reveal extra content when hovered over are an excellent way to start. For example, you could list the impressive features of your product of service. When the person hovers over a link within that text, you could display a quick video of these features in action.
Other ideas include:
- animated link buttons
- video content that only plays when the client clicks the play button
- polls, quizzes, and surveys.
Tailoring your emails for better accessibility
Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen the smart speaker and voice assistant market boom. We spent 2019 making our websites more voice search-friendly. Now it’s time to apply similar principles to email marketing.
The idea of Google Assistant droning out emails isn’t very appealing. It could be useful if you’re visually impaired or are driving to work, though. We need to streamline our email communications to allow for maximum accessibility without boring our audience as well.
More importantly, perhaps, we need to acknowledge that not all subscribers have equal internet access. We have to cater to those with slower connections as well. Here are ways to prepare both for voice-enabled technology and consumers with limited internet options.
Keep it short
Start with a summary sentence.
This sentence must be a compelling and accurate summary of the main point of the email. This allows the reader to decide that the email is relevant to them.
Keep the body of the email short.
If possible, use accordion techniques to make the email seem more compact. This is where you reveal a small amount of text, and then add a “Read More” button at the bottom.
Use short sentences and simple language.
Pretend you’re speaking to a school child – not everyone has the same command of your language as you do.
All-image templates are out.
Instead, use interactive features to add interest. Images add a lot of bulk – use them sparingly.
Use white space judiciously.
This helps to make the page seem less cluttered. Also, clever line-spacing further improves the overall look of the email.
Does your email look good on mobile?
Use a simple font and a font size that plays well on small mobile devices.
Place your text carefully.
Avoid having text run over into two columns center it on the left-hand side of the page. Choose a simple black text on a white background for better contrast.
Are you ready to take the email marketing world by storm now? Use the simple tips listed above, and you’re on track to make email marketing your team’s most valuable player.