10 Email Marketing Experts Share Their Top Advice To Rock Email Marketing In 2021

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email marketers share top prediction for email marketing 2021

After a tumultuous year full of distress and uncertainties, but with a stronger ecommerce push than ever before, 2021 is looking good with all that’s in store. As online sales hit unprecedented numbers and new stores mushroomed, email emerged as a big winner in 2020 with every ecommerce store worth its salt owning its marketing funnel with a strong email marketing focus. Over at Klaviyo, our ESP of choice, over 91 billion emails were sent from over 50,000 stores in the year and the revenue numbers hit an all-time high. We at Hustler pushed out over 250 million emails across our 45 stores, and helped them make an average of 20% of their overall revenue from email marketing. (Read our 2020 report.)

Email marketing is only going to get stronger in 2021. Social networks are getting unpredictable, the sudden and unexpected bans on ad accounts, an increasingly interspersed tech and political climate, and rising ad costs is going to encourage businesses to build and own their networks and place email marketing on top of the “owned marketing” channels. The email list is going to be worth its price in gold, and hence email marketing is going to be more sophisticated and nuanced than ever. The learnings from the past year are going to fuel a much more scientific, and yet humanized approach to email. This is what we do at Hustler, but for this feature, we leaned on the collective intelligence of email marketing experts across industries and niches to tell us where they think email marketing is heading and how to crack it better than ever. Here’s 10 Email Marketing experts sharing their top prediction slash advice for email marketing for the year ahead and beyond.

1. Listen, observe, analyze and understand, and use those learnings to craft super personalized marketing experiences 

“While 2020 had its fair share of downfalls, it was a record-breaking year for ecommerce. Not only were more consumers shopping online than ever before, brands also benefited from incredibly low ad rates. Knowing that there was so much focus on acquisition in 2020, it is crucial for brands to turn their attention to customer retention in 2021. Brands should think of these contacts as potential relationships and get to know them as if they were acquaintances IRL. Listen and observe behaviors and preferences, analyze and understand the data you gather or request, and be sure to use those learnings to craft super personalized marketing experiences that will make your new contacts feel valued.”

— Allie Guertin, Channel Customer Success Manager at Klaviyo

2. Show gratitude to your customers

“Putting the customer at the heart of the email and treating them like a real person whose business has helped support your business is going to make your company go from a store to a community. Write a thank you letter to your customers telling them how grateful you are for their support – and then figure out how to show that you really mean it.” 

– Rebecca Pollard, marketing director, Great Pet Media

We did it ourselves at Hustler for one of our clients, where instead of sales-driven emails, we ran a whole “Customer Appreciation Month” during the Cyber month where we sent a lot of nurturing content and personalised stories to the client’s email list for the whole Cyber month. Not only did this series fetch a significant amount fo revenue, but more importantly won the client a lot of love and appreciation of their customers. “The customers felt really appreciated and a deeper connection with the company than just a BFCM sale, which is why they love to shop with us.”, shared the CEO of the company.

3.  Tie an automation to an “aha” moment to enhance relationship building

“Tie an email automation to an “aha” moment that is your defined activation moment, or defined retention moment to further relationship building. For example, if you consider 3 purchases to determine the status of a loyal customer, trigger a personalized campaign congratulating them on being a frequent purchaser. If you are a SaaS company and look for a user to complete a certain event 3x within a week to be defined as “activated”, trigger an email notifying them that they have the basics down pat like a rockstar, and encourage them to complete other actions etc. IMO it’s a great way to personalize the user journey and see how many users are hitting those big milestone moments!”

– Naomi West,  email marketing consultant, Naomiwest.ca

4.  The plain text email is making a comeback. Get better with storytelling with text

“This is coming from performance insights I’ve seen in my professional experience working with editorial newsletter audiences at various media publications over the past 5 years. This prediction is specific to editorial newsletters in the journalism field. And when I say plain text, I don’t mean ditch HTML or design completely, but instead embrace a more minimally designed newsletter for more engagement and impact with your audience. Reporters can sometimes feel overwhelmed by email production if it’s overly designed and requires them to dig into the code. So this was a way for me to say hey, a simple design with an emphasis on storytelling is actually what matters here.”

– Jacqué Palmer, Senior Newsletter Strategist, Gannett

5.  Add personality to your emails, and personalise!

“A. Cut through the BS 😅
B. Add some personality to your emails
C. Personalisation, Personalisation, Personalisation!
Essentially, we’re getting more emails now than ever so those extra touches will go a long way. That first welcome email is great way to set the tone. Even a serious brand can include a gif. E.g. If adding a welcome video, make the thumbnail a gif so it plays in the email.”
– Victoria Glass, email marketing freelancer

6.  Remove unengaged subscribers from your sends

“Setup an automated sunset flow to remove unengaged subscribers from your sends after they haven’t opened your emails or visited your site in 6 months. When you send to unengaged, it lowers your open rate and increased your chance of landing in spam folder. Having this automated system set up will help you avoid sending to these people.
In 2021 , having a healthy email list will be super important due to unreliability of social media platforms reach.”
– Kris Daria, email marketing consultant for e-commerce brands

7. Remove your social links from the footer


“Remove your social links from your footer. These weigh down an email and can negatively impact deliverability – but they almost NEVER get clicked. Add a “how to get more” email that is focused on social to your welcome flow to connect these communities. 

Additionally, the algorithms of big three (google, yahoo, hotmail) sort emails based on a lot of specific logic. The amount of links and imagery in an email is part of what they look for to sort and deliver your email. (Deliverability)
If it has too many links or images they are more likely to drop your email into the promotional or spam folders.
Removing social and navigation links helps make your email lighter overall.
It also helps you be more specific with your CTAs and focus on the 1-2 things you want people to do when they read your email.
To make up for removing your social posts from your templates, add a social media focused email to your welcome series.”

– Aub Wallace, co-founder, dandelionbranding.com


8. Be agile in your creatives, and be sensitive to the events around you

“1) Being agile in your creative is a must. Be ready to stop, start and adapt to changes in the market, reductions in your staff, shifts in your company’s mindset.
2) Depending on your product and brand, take a look at what’s happening in the world from a social justice perspective to make sure you’re not coming across as tone-deaf or insensitive. Still using “blacklist” and “whitelist”? Stop it.”
– Jeana Salomone-Reisig, marketing manager at Parts Town

9.  Go for smart segmentation

“Smart Segmentation is the theme for 2021. Not all of your users are the same. Treat them accordingly.  Here’s a good example from Starbucks. They know my personal habit of grabbing morning coffee 2-3x a week, so they encourage it with reward points (stars) if I increase my visits just a couple more times than normal.”
– Candice Trebus, lifestyle marketing manager,  GamesSkillz

10.  Test more and make each subsequent email a product of the intel from the last

“I truly believe testing is one of the easiest features that we have with email marketing and should be a must. Each send gives you an opportunity to learn how your audience is engaging with your content. Email marketing is an ever changing tactic, by testing you can identify new patterns and make changes sooner rather than later. We have the data within a day, and once we established the parameters of what are we looking for we can make educated decisions about our next move “
– Pamela Ortega, digital creative specialist
We hope this collective intelligence and experience of the email community helped give you a lot of perspective and insights into what’s coming for email and shape your own strategy.
We’d be happy to provide a deeper consultation and even a free email marketing audit for your ecommerce business.  Schedule a call with one of our growth consultants with whom you can explore how we can help your business grow with email.

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