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.”
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!
6. Remove unengaged subscribers from your sends
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.
– Aub Wallace, co-founder, dandelionbranding.com