2020 Email Marketing Analysis

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2020 Trends

With about 3.8 billion email users globally, email marketing is clearly a great tool to reach out to a targeted audience, deliver a brand message, keep in touch with readers, acquire customers, and provide customer support. However, here is the reality: In 2019 an average business user sent and received 126 emails per day. With a great number of bulk mails and unsolicited spam, an email may get buried in the inbox or annoy potential customers. In other words, it takes knowledge and practice to run a successful email marketing campaign. Three trends surrounding email marketing expected to be seen in 2020, and for the foreseeable future are AMP, Mobile Email Marketing/Mobile-First Optimization, and Social Media Integration.

AMP (Accelererated Mobile Pages) for Email

Mobile Email Marketing/Mobile-First Optimization

  • 7.26 billion is the number of mobile phone users that are predicted by 2020. Mobile phone use helps people save time and solve their various problems on the go: from reading emails, to making purchase decisions. Not only are 61% of all emails opened and read on mobile devices, but also 79% of mobile users have made a purchase online with their device in the last 6 months which means customers are ready to learn more about a product and buy it with the gadget.
  • Mobile optimized emails are the in-thing now, and it has become the standard while optimizing emails. Email click-through rates are 100% higher on mobiles than on desktops. It means that engagement rates are going to be on the higher side too.
  • Mobile customers account for 41.9% of email opens during the first quarter of 2019, followed by webmail opens at 39.9% and desktop opens at 18.2%.
  • According to Business Insider, smartwatches 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.
  • 61.9% of email opens occurred on mobile.
  • More email is read on mobile than on desktop email clients. Stats say 42% of email is now opened on a mobile device.
  • After looking at combined research, the average person spends at least four hours a day on their smartphone. Mobile traffic now accounts for 52.2% of all web page traffic worldwide. In the United States, this figure is even higher: coming in at 57%.
  • 40 percent of consumers said that their mobile phone is their primary device for checking email.
  • According to Kevin Payne, a Growth Marketer at Kevintpayne.com, "Because most internet users now access websites and apps — including email — on their mobile devices, it’s best to think mobile-first when designing either opt-in forms or email content."
  • Marika Roque, COO at KERV Interactive states that "The focus and research should go into what consumers are already doing and fitting in engagement and experience into that versus asking consumers to do something completely out of their habit or muscle memory. For example, time spent with mobile devices is now higher than time spent with TVs, so taking a mobile-first approach to interactivity is key. Going mobile-first allows us to blend these ideas and utilize apps that consumers are already hooked into and simply make Marketing and Content even more cohesive. In-app integrations will be key for seamless consumer-facing experiences."
  • A well-optimized email is clean and simple and looks great on smartphones. Once an email has been optimized for mobile, there will be an increase in the email click-through rate. This email from the U.S. Polo ASSN is an example of that.

Email Social Media Integration

  • In the vast multitude of social media platforms, it seems every user has found a network to join. The number of social media users is constantly growing: According to Emarsys, about 42% of the population (3.2 billion users) are on social media. For brands, this means an alternative way to reach their target audiences, establish a connection with them, and deliver the brand message without being too pushy.
  • To make the most out of email marketing, it’s important to combine it with social media as people use networks to discover products and read customers’ reviews. Today, customers crave and seek out peer recommendations before making the purchase decision, so working with Instagram nano and micro influencers is a great way to leverage reviews, and therefore start selling on Instagram.
  • In partnership with fashion influencers, Lulus ran an email marketing campaign that combined referral email marketing and social media: Sharing photos of opinion leaders who wear Lulus clothes, the company could prove its popularity and credibility. Creatives can be viewed here.
  • Further, Lulu's added a brand hashtag as well as social media buttons to let its subscribers know how to find the company on social media. When brands interact with shoppers on social media, these people spend 20-40% more money to buy from them which obviously means more sales for companies. When companies combine email marketing and social media, products are promoted more effectively, customer trust is earned, and it gets better results.
  • Small businesses were surveyed by Campaign Monitor and were asked where they felt their biggest opportunity might be to build brand awareness. The top two responses were social media and email marketing. When the two are combined they can complement each other to take marketing to the next level.
  • If people talk about a company's emails or post about them on social media, it will enhance the word-of-mouth publicity for their brand. More people will get a chance to learn about the emails and thus, they will have a higher chance of growing their email subscription list.
  • Through their emails, Fruit of the Loom encourages subscribers to engage with their brand in a fun and interactive way. The creative can be viewed here.
  • According to Mark Walker-Ford, Managing Director at Red Website Design, "It's pretty clear that email marketing is effective at driving business, but it doesn't need to be in direct competition to social media."
  • Kevin George is the head of marketing at EmailMonks, and he states that "Marketers need to understand that an effective marketing strategy is not social media versus email marketing. Instead, marketers must combine social media with email strategies." Additionally, he states "Encouraging your social media followers to become email subscribers will strengthen your rapport with your social media community — largely because email lets you draft more personalized communication, tailor-made for individual subscribers.

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2020 Trends (2)

Email usage will grow by 2-3% yearly, according to Statistica, between 2018-2023. This simply underscores why it is important to know about email marketing trends in 2020 and beyond. Three additional trends surrounding email marketing expected to be seen in 2020, and for the foreseeable future are personalization, user-generated content (UGC), and artificial intelligence (AI).

Personalization in Emails

  • An upcoming trend shaping email marketing practices to watch out for in 2020, according to eMarketer, is personalization. This is outlined and detailed in their latest report on the topic, “Email Marketing 2019: Still a Leading Touchpoint for Marketers and Consumers Alike.”
  • In the context of email marketing, personalization refers to the act of modifying an email according to a targeted subscriber. It may include leveraging the data included in the email- their name, number of times they check into the app, and the last product purchased.
  • As brands continue to turn to data to optimize all their marketing activities for effectiveness, personalization is a leading trend across marketing communications. However, the reality is that most emails are still not very personalized.
  • Liveclicker, a company that provides personalization services, conducted a survey of more than 300 professionals and incorporated data from millions of email metrics to see which tactics worked the best. According to their research called "The Value of Personalization report", high-level personalization tactics work.
  • Almost 50% of all email marketing contains basic personalization, according to research from the Relevancy Group. This consists of low-cost approaches like following up with inactive customers.
  • The focus on dynamic content in emails is in part due to the rise of AI-driven personalization, "which allows tailored email content on a scale and level of granularity that's otherwise impossible."
  • Campaign Monitor, states that marketers are seeing a 760% increase in revenue by segmenting and personalizing traffic.
  • According to Marketing Dive’s latest study, “Personalized email subject lines increase open rates by 50%.
  • A key reason personalization will remain a hot trend for years is because it is not even close to reaching its potential. For example, when Sailthru surveyed marketers for their third annual Retail Personalization Index, they discovered that 86% of brands sent welcome messages. However, they also discovered that only 38% included personalized recommendations in their welcome emails.
  • Econsultancy data shows the importance of humanity in automation. The data surveyed over 1,100 marketers in e-commerce and digital marketing. Of the respondents, 74% agreed that using personalization was the key to boosting the engagement of their customers.
  • When asked why retailers were still so behind on what the industry considers a best practice, Michael Osborne, CEO and president of SmarterHQ, pointed to inertia. “Either they find it difficult, or they're addicted to the way that they've always done it,” he said. “Every extra dollar of revenue counts, even if it's detrimental in the long term for their customer base and loyalty.”
  • "People simply open and react to emails that are tailored to them, but including their name and workplace is not enough," said Jakub Kliszczak, marketing specialist at CrazyCall. "Taking it to the next step — personalizing the email according to the website they've been on recently or things they like or recently did — is much more powerful. This sense of familiarity creates trust, which, especially nowadays, is key to creating a relationship."
  • Olga Mykhoparkina, chief marketing officer at Chanty, said "hyper-personalization" is the future of email marketing in 2020 and the years to follow. While marketers already focus on list segmentation based on general demographic and psychographic data, Mykhoparkina believes most marketers can do better to drive engagement.
  • Sephora is an example of a company that does email personalization well. The creative can be viewed here. Be sure to examine Easy Jet's creative here. It was too large to provide as a screenshot.

User-Generated Content in Emails

  • An upcoming trend shaping email marketing practices heading into 2020, according to Wishpond, is user-generated content.
  • Simply put, user generated content (UGC) is anything which is made by fans or followers, rather than someone from within a company. That way, brands get free authentic content, and fans can engage with their favorite brands, or even receive rewards and recognition.
  • Eighty-two percent of Americans, according to Trust Pulse, say they seek recommendations from friends and family before making a purchase. To add to that, Harris Interactive polled 18 to 34 year old social media users and 68% stated that they were at least somewhat likely to make a purchase after seeing a friend’s post. This is why user-generated content is extremely effective. It’s authentic and organic. A user is more likely to consider, and then purchase a product, when they observe that one of their friends or peers posted a photo of a product they like. In other words, it acts as social proof and makes them more likely to buy that product too.
  • 88% of consumers trust user-generated online reviews just as much as a recommendation from one of their personal contacts.
  • At first glance, user-generated content may seem difficult to obtain, but getting and sharing real and valuable feedback from customers is easier than it seems. Email can help on both ends of the process. Subscribers can be asked to share their stories and reviews, from there, those real experiences can be built upon into an email marketing campaign.
  • User Generated Content works well for every marketing channel, including emails. It helps to increase the engagement of the subscriber and makes them want to purchase the product. This strategy is working best for the ecommerce industry. According to 3rd cart, 82% of consumers believes these emails are valuable and 70% of consumers check reviews or a rating to make a purchase decision. Email subscribers are three times more likely to share content on Social Media.
  • According to Shama Hyder, CEO of Zen Media, companies should "encourage user-generated content (UGC) through contests, calls-to-action, and giveaways. Then share that content widely."
  • Chris Donald has worked directly with Fortune 500 companies, retail giants, nonprofits, SMBs and government agencies in all facets of their email marketing and marketing automation programs. He states that "In today’s world, emails are all about user-generated content, accessibility responsive interactivity, and automation."
  • Glossier, as an example, has built an entire brand using UGC. They include their fans all the time. You can see the creatives here. Email marketing can be used to inspire and promote UGC. A survey or other feedback form can easily be placed at the bottom of any email.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Emails

  • According to Smart Insights, artificial intelligence is reshaping email marketing and is a top trend moving into 2020, and beyond.
  • With its combination with big data, an effective AI for email marketing can be put into place set to achieve the following objectives: increased engagement, email timing calibration, personalization of promotions, and discovering new segments.
  • AI is expected to help improve email marketing by automating processes, improving content relevance, and improve A/B testing options.
  • Email marketers can expect machine learning and artificial intelligence, now and in the near future, to assist with high-performing subject lines, dynamic email content, sentiment analysis of email responses, multivariate and multi-attribute testing for optimization, smart segmentation, send time optimization, email sending pattern, and recipient inbox filtering.
  • Powerful AI-powered email verification services can prevent ESPs blockages.
  • 87% of companies that have adopted AI were using it to improve email marketing.
  • Only 17% of email marketers are planning for artificial intelligence, according to Econsultancy. This is despite more than half of email marketers planning to innovative with automation.
  • Artificial Intelligence and machine learning technology assist with focusing on customer behavior and analyzing their interests to produce data-driven information. This enables tailored emails to be sent to each user.
  • According to Anthony Chiulli, Director of Product Marketing at 250ok, “When it comes to the emergence of AI in email marketing, there are many forms and practical use cases where AI can be leveraged including automation, personalization, segmentation, send-time optimization, content and even subject lines. AI’s most valuable benefit is in helping email teams improve efficiency and as the technology becomes more scalable, intuitive, and easily accessible to existing workflows, AI will become an area more marketers dip their toes into in 2020.”
  • Artificial intelligence, big data, and machine learning will continue their integration into all areas of sales and marketing. These advancing technologies will make legacy marketing and communication mediums such as email marketing more responsive, more profitable and, therefore, more valuable. I’m already using all three for email marketing, email subject lines, Facebook advertising and copywriting. The ability to leverage machines to create and test hundreds of instances of advertising, images, and offers will now be at your fingertips.”: Doug Morneau, marketer, speaker, author and host, Real Marketing Real Fast podcast.
  • "An effective email marketing campaign requires marketers to get a deep insight into the customer life cycle and send them contextual emails throughout. AI and predictive analytics assist marketers in generating and analyzing insights about the customers by extracting data based on their behavior and interests. This cart abandonment email from Sunglass Hut is an ideal example of leveraging customer data and engaging them", and can be viewed here.
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2020 Trends (3)

In 2018, the number of global e-mail users amounted to 3.8 billion and is set to grow to 4.4 billion users in 2023. This means that between 2018 to 2023 email usage will grow by 2-3% yearly. This simply underscores why it is important to know about email marketing trends in 2020 and beyond. Three additional trends surrounding email marketing expected to be seen in 2020, and for the foreseeable future are interactive design, accessibility in emails, and email automation.

Interactive Design

  • According to Litmus, interactive design is a top email marketing trend for 2020.
  • Interactive content includes anything that consumers click on, swipe, or interact with.
  • Martech Advisor has stated that, “interactive email content increases the click-to-open rate by 73% and adding videos to your email content can boost click rates up to 300%."
  • According to the state of interactive content survey, consumers want to have fun. Even above that, they want to be educated and have a sense of curiosity aroused within them. In a nutshell, customers want their favorite brands to entertain and inform them with the latest interactive content.
  • One question in the survey asked about purchasing behavior. The respondents were provided with three emails, one with an interactive element, one with an image, and one with text. They were asked which email would more likely lead to a purchase. The interactive email was chosen most often, followed closely by an email with an image, and lagging far behind, a text email.
  • Emails that contain interactive content requires the recipient to do something within the email in order to get the full message. When that happens, the recipient then instantly becomes part of the marketing, which in turn, increases engagement and feelings of brand loyalty. In fact, according to Kapost, interactive content generates two times more conversions than non directive content. The survey revealed that interactive content is rated as more engaging than static content. Sixty-nine percent of respondents preferred GIFs, sixty-five percent preferred video, and a whopping eighty-two percent preferred interactivity in any form over traditional non moving (static) emails.
  • Dynamic or interactive content boost user engagement and entices them to take action right from their emails instead of having to visit another page to take action. 91% of buyers are looking for such content online.
  • Interactive emails are also a great way to get feedback from customers.
  • A poll by Litmus revealed that 32% of marketers believe that interactive emails are going to be the next big thing in the email marketing.
  • Interactivity is a top email design trend for two years running because it gives users the ability to interact with a brand without leaving their inbox (or opening up another web page). Interactive content is evolving in 2019 and will take off much more in 2020. And the numbers agree.
  • Len Shneyder a 15-year email and digital messaging veteran and the VP of industry relations at Twilio SendGrid, states that "Since interactive emails will allow recipients to get status updates, view fresh content, and respond directly in an email to things such as invites and comments, senders will have to begin tracking the efficacy of the new mobile inbox versus native mobile apps and mobile web sites."
  • Simms Jenkins, CEO at BrightWave, in a white paper from Litmus Software wrote: "Only smart, innovative, and highly dynamic emails will drive interaction, and generic blasts will get weeded out of the subscriber’s priorities, if not outright emotionally junked.”
  • This email from Victoria’s Secret PINK offered a number of different interactive and engaging design principles. "The image of the two girls was a GIF and the wording throughout the email changed as you continued to read on. It was a great way to catch a reader’s attention and make use of the extra space." As the creative is moving, it was not placed in the Google document, but can be accessed and viewed here.
  • Here is an interactive email from EmailMonks.

Accessibility in Emails

  • According to MarketingProfs, accessibility in email is a "hot" trend for 2020.
  • Email accessibility means inclusive design. In turn, inclusive design means "designing emails so everyone can easily understand the message, regardless of disabilities or assistive devices."
  • Smart speakers with voice assistants reading emails aloud to consumers is an example of accessibility. 2020 will continue to see an increase in this. About 250 million smart speakers are predicted to be installed worldwide by 2020, which means that smart email marketers are already designing with accessibility at the forefront.
  • According to The World Health Organization about 2.2 billion people live with visual impairments or blindness. This poses a challenge for email marketers. In addition to the diverse abilities of the human body, many parts of the world have limited data connections and a lack of access to the latest technology.
  • The emergence and improvement of assistive technologies help to simplify the process for the reader and marketer alike. According to Litmus’ Ultimate Guide to Email Accessibility, “77% of brands say accessibility is a priority, but only 8% rigidly follow accessibility best practices.”
  • Email accessibility can be as simple as making your font sizes a little bigger.
  • According to Business 2 Community, 2020 will see considerable improvements in the creation of accessible emails. Email will be more accessible and will be able to be understood by everyone regardless of any disabilities. Email coding will get more powerful to ensure completely accessible emails. "Alt-text will be used for every image to help visually impaired subscribers to read emails through screen-readers and understand what the email is all about."
  • According to mConnexions, accessibility is a trend that is not slowing down anytime soon.
  • Accessibility design is frequently a requirement when dealing with government clients. In the United States, Section 508 laws require that “agencies must give disabled employees and members of the public access to information that is comparable to access available to others.”
  • Making emails accessible is quite simple when you have the right tools.
  • "If emails are designed only for people with unimpaired mobility, vision and hearing, and for people using only the regular navigation tools, then people using the technologies above won’t be able to get all the information they need."
  • One in five people live with a disability in the United States. ADA compliance makes sure everyone has a positive experience with emails. In 2020, ADA compliance is more than a trend, it’s an essential component of successful email marketing. This source has several examples of email creatives, and is better served viewing this way, than in the Google document.
  • According to Martin Chuck, creative content writer of EOI Digital, "Undoubtedly, marketers are shifting to a proactive approach to email accessibility through the use of technology. And this trend is most likely to stay. Features like vision support and color-blind assistance are no longer uncommon. And ultimately, this would help you encapsulate even a broader audience and would add to better branding."
  • According to Dori-Jo Bonner, "Email’s hot topic this year has undoubtedly been “accessibility,” which has brought this new craze with it — dark mode for email. "
  • Video-software company Wistia includes easy-to-understand alt text in emails to promote accessibility. The creative can be viewed here.

Email Automation

  • According to EngageBay, automation is a trend for 2020, and in fact, has several sub-trends within it.
  • "Email automation is the ability to send time or action triggered emails to subscribers with relevant information. Automation is useful for a variety of different marketing purposes."
  • Automated emails can be set to trigger when the consumer that has subscribed to an email takes certain actions on a company site, reaches new rewards program milestones, makes purchases, and more. Since automated emails are linked to the subscribers actions, they’re strongly personalized and a very effective way to engage leads and customers.
  • The 14 biggest email marketing automation trends for 2020 according to EngageBay are the importance of humanity in automation, the importance of conversion rate optimization metrics, automated email list pruning, visual automation workflow builders, chatbots, proprietary blog content, that is reusable, recommender blocks, reconnect with disengaged customers, transactional emails, privacy emails, interactive emails, artificial intelligence, testing for mistakes, and switch up email marketing automation strategies.
  • When it comes to email marketing automation, just 1 in 5 say they use most or all marketing automation features available to them.
  • According to the research, there are two main types of automated emails used. Those are: multi-step welcome emails for new contacts (47%) and promotional sales-focused campaign emails (46%).
  • Sending 3 automatic abandoned cart emails results in 69% more orders than a single email.
  • According to Michael Guta, staff writer at Small Business Trends, "Email marketing gives small businesses the ability to manage their campaigns with greater control. An integrated approach which combines new media, conversation rate optimization, marketing automation along with other tools will allow you to deliver your message to your audience economically and effectively."
  • Larisa Bedgoodd, VP of marketing for V12 Data states: "Triggered emails are a key component in communicating relevant messages at the right time with your customer-base. Sending triggered emails based on a consumer’s behavior is effective for both acquisition and transforming customers into loyal brand advocates." The same source also offers several intriguing statistics surrounding email automation, one of which is "automated emails get 119% higher click rates than broadcast emails."
  • Hotel chain Hilton sends automated emails to Hilton Honors members when they reach new levels in the rewards program. The creative can be viewed here.
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AMP Insights

Insights surrounding the use of AMP in email have been detailed below. 14 insights have been provided, along with three examples of AMP Email Campaigns. Among the more interesting insights are the fact that the recipients of AMP emails can interact with the company without having to leave the email and the fact that the AMP code framework is highly controversial in the digital marketing world with opinions varying wildly.

Basic AMP Information

  • Gmail can be used with Google AMP. It can help marketers reach millions of Gmail users with interactive email. However, in order for AMP-powered emails to work in Gmail, a separate Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension (MIME-type) must be added.
  • Interactive and dynamic are two words that perfectly describe AMP for Email. This is extremely important because it changes messages from being one-directional and static to become two-directional and constantly updated, which is more eye-catching to potential customers. "AMP email technology is red-hot, and it will take some time until many marketers use it. [....] jump ahead of [...] rivals if [.....] have a clear idea how to interact with the users, using AMP elements in [...] emails."
  • The most important thing to understand about dynamic emails is that it’s the messages themselves that are changing. In other words, people can take actions directly within them without having to reply or click through to a web page, saving people time and frustration.
  • As Google frames it, “AMP now enables all-new email experiences like being able to submit RSVPs to events, fill out questionnaires, browse catalogs, or respond to comments right within the email. Emails can also stay up to date, displaying the freshest content from comment threads or the latest recommendations.”

Insights Surrounding the Use of AMP in Email Marketing

  • AMP is a marketers dream. It allows the creation of website-like experiences right in the email, which includes the inclusion of carousels, accordions, and accept user input. This way the recipient of the email can interact or browse with content straight from their inbox.
  • AMP is backward compatible with email clients that don’t support the technology. Meaning it would fall back to older Markup language if it were unsupported by an email service/software.
  • Unlike its contemporary counterparts, AMP email content can be kept up to date, which means that your message will always be current and on point. Think of it this way: imagine that someone was gearing up for a visit to New York City, and visited a Marriott website. The next morning they discover that the company had sent them a list of available hotel rooms, and they check the prices and availability but get pulled away. The next day, they return to the same email, thinking they would probably have to call the front desk or 1-800 number to double-check availability and pricing. However, the content updated itself to the freshest listings available when it is reopened. Email never gets stale!
  • Dynamic content may be the biggest influencer of email marketing trends in 2019. While some marketers are skeptical, many are trying and succeeding with it. Therefore, it’s plausible that AMP for email could replace standard HTML and Text emails in 2020 if it becomes supported by other email service providers (ESPs).
  • In Unbounce’s 2019 Page Speed Report for Marketers, a majority of consumers told us that they’ll only wait 4-6 seconds before giving up on a slow page.

AMP Controversies and Challenges

  • The AMP code framework is highly controversial in the digital marketing world with opinions varying wildly. On one hand, the critical side sees it as an unnecessary and even a potentially disastrous forfeiture of control, while its proponents cheer it because it’s faster for users, and provides a more interesting experience for the recipients and provides up to date content no matter when it is opened or reopened.
  • Some potential challenges with AMP include users being confused with email that has active buttons and forms, even though anyone using web-based emails should have foreseen this. Google calendar invites in the Gmail app, for example. Dynamic emails that change every time you view them are pretty new, and despite some current technology that allows prices to be fetched at the time of email rendering, most users won’t have really noticed it yet.
  • 57% of marketers have no plans to implement AMP in the near future, while 23% are still considering it.
  • While 54% of the digital marketers that took this survey said they have some understanding of AMP, 25% of them hadn’t even heard of Accelerated Mobile Pages before taking the survey.

Examples of the Best AMP Email Campaigns


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