Email Marketing Trends for 2021 

|by Demi-Leigh Donohoe

In 2020, email marketing, like many other things, had to undergo a rapid transformation. Email marketers have had to adapt to changing consumer behaviours, new marketing strategies, and smaller budgets. 

As the pandemic continues to impact our lives, the ways in which we build relationships with customers has changed, too. Over the last year, companies have swiftly shifted to digital marketing channels, and email has been pivotal for brands in all different industries.

With one very disruptive year now behind us, it’s likely that 2021 will bring even more changes. That’s why we’re sharing our email marketing trends and predictions for the year ahead. 

Here are 10 email marketing trends to focus on in 2021: 

1. Dark mode for email 

Dark mode, also called black mode, night mode, or dark theme, is a reverse colour scheme that uses light elements and text on a dark background. 

Dark mode is a digital design trend that has grown in popularity over the last year, and now it’s taking over our inboxes. 

More and more people are choosing to view their emails in dark mode, so optimising your emails for this setting ensures your emails are accessible for all your subscribers.  

Using transparent images, adjusting colours, and testing your emails are a few ways to make sure your emails are dark mode friendly. 

2. Hyper-personalisation 

Personalised emails are nothing new, but we don’t just mean putting the subscriber’s first name in the subject line. In 2021, you need to take it a step further. 

Hyper-personalisation, also known as one-to-one marketing, leverages the subscriber’s data to deliver content that’s relevant to their individual preferences and needs. 

Throughout 2020, many consumers will have shopped online for the first time. COVID-19 has cranked up the need for seamless online customer journeys, and subscribers want to be treated like a valued customer from the get-go. They want to be recognised and listened to, so it’s crucial that your email content is targeted and personalised. 

With email marketing tools like segmentation and dynamic content, you can make your subscribers feel like any emails they receive from you are only for them. 

3. More empathy 

The pandemic has affected all of us, and as a result brands have had to change how they talk to customers.  

When done right, email marketing can be used to build trust, humanise your brand, and develop long-lasting relationships with your customers. 

It all comes down to know who your subscribers are, what they need from you, and how you can help them. Put yourself in your subscribers’ shoes and think about what kind of messages you’d like to receive. The most important thing is communicating with compassion and consideration. 

For more tips on connecting with your customers in the right way during these times, read our Best Practices for Email Marketing During A Crisis

4. Interactivity 

Interactive emails have been growing in popularity over the last year or so, and the trend is sure to grow stronger in 2021. 

Interactive emails enable your subscribers to take an action directly on your email, rather than being redirected to a web page. Everything happens within the inbox.  

With interactive elements such as interactive images and product carousels, animated buttons, videos, polls, and anchor links, our inboxes are becoming more and more like onsite experiences.  

According to DemandGen, interactive emails gain two times more engagement than static emails. Interactive email designs increase open rates, boost engagement, and drive conversions. Subscribers are looking for a unique experience from your emails that’s memorable and keeps their attention, so don’t let them down.  

5. Bold colours and designs 

The use of bold and bright colours in your emails is an ongoing trend that’s sure to grow in popularity in 2021.  

Let’s face it – boring and dull email designs are a sure-fire way to lose subscribers, and potential customers, too. In fact, colour influences 85% of shoppers’ purchase decisions

Colours affect people’s behaviour, mood, and stress levels, and after a turbulent 2020, consumers are looking for an uplift. Bold and colourful email designs are sure to catch a subscriber’s attention and make your email stand out in their inbox. 

However, be careful not to just throw any colours together. Do some research on colour theory and colour psychology before you start, and be mindful of your colour scheme. 

6. Automation 

Although automation isn’t a particularly new trend, we couldn’t leave it out. According to the Wired Plus State of Marketing Report, more than 57% of companies were embracing automation in 2020, while 27% had plans to use it in the future. 

With hyper-personalisation being a big focus of 2021, automation is a vital part of any email marketing strategy. Since the pandemic hit last year, many more companies have been communicating with their customers through email, so it’s fair to say that the need for automation will continue to grow in the coming year.  

Marketing automation enables you to automate your emails and trigger campaigns that are based on customer behaviour and data.  

There are limitless possibilities for you to automate your email marketing. Here are just a few ways you can automate your emails: 

  • Create a series of welcome emails 
  • Send birthday or anniversary emails 
  • Send order confirmation and other transactional emails 
  • Create a series of lead nurturing emails 
  • Onboard new customers 

7. Plain-text emails 

Connection is the new currency, which has resulted in a rise of plain-text emails.  

Personal connection is invaluable. 64% of consumers want brands to connect with them, with 57% of consumers increasing their spending with brands they feel connected to. That’s why plain-text emails should have a place in your email marketing strategy. 

A plain-text email is a simple email message that includes only text and they require no more than your words, which works great when you’re trying to build a connection with your subscribers. Your subscribers want to feel like you’re a human, not another brand trying to sell something to them. 

We’re not saying to never use a bold and beautiful email design again, of course. HTML emails are visual and attention-grabbing, whereas plain-text emails offer a more personal feel, like an email that’s been sent from a friend. Why not incorporate both types of email into your strategy? When done right, an effective nurturing program contains a healthy mix of engaging visuals and interactive content, alongside more personal and direct connections from a human.  

8. Artificial intelligence 

Artificial intelligence, or AI, is slowly but surely taking over email marketing.  

AI enables companies to automate and optimise almost every aspect of their sales and marketing processes. When leveraging AI, emails can be much more effective and drive more conversions.  

AI makes hyper-personalisation possible by collecting and translating customer data, reducing the guesswork from your email strategy and empowering you to interact with your subscribers in new and better ways. 

Artificial intelligence can enhance every aspect of your email campaigns and optimise your efforts to send out a targeted campaign to every single segment in your database. 

As AI continues to evolve, our email tactics need to evolve, too. If you haven’t already, 2021 is the time to utilise this powerful tool. 

9. User-generated content 

More important now than ever, user-generated content, or UGC, is an effective method for building relationships with your subscribers. 

UGC, also known as social proof, is any form of content that’s been created by end-users of products or services. This could include opinions, ratings, recommendations, reviews, and testimonials.  

By including UGC in your emails, you can build trust with subscribers and ultimately generate more conversions. Positive reviews make 91% of consumers more likely to use a business, while 82% are put off by negative reviews. 

UGC shows the experience of your customers and instils a sense of trust in a digital landscape. 

10. More investment in email marketing 

There were 3.9 billion daily email users in 2020, and that number is expected to grow to 4.3 billion by 2023. 

Due to the ongoing pandemic, contactless interactions became the norm in 2020, so it’s no surprise that email has taken centre stage, connecting customers and brands like never before. 

With a ROI of 42:1, email marketing is one of the most powerful marketing channels that a business can use. Although many businesses scaled back their email marketing spending at the start of the pandemic, they’re starting to ramp things up again in order to maintain connections with their customers. 

Brands who embrace this new normal and invest more in their digital presence will be the ones who really thrive in 2021. 

Wrapping up 

Email marketing continues to show an amazing ability to adapt to change and meet consumers’ ever-changing needs. With these 10 email marketing trends for 2021, you can get a head start on optimising your campaigns and growing your ROI. 

Want to start sending amazing emails? Get ahead of the game in 2021 with our powerful email automation platform, empowering you to reach your subscribers’ inboxes when it matters most. Book a demo today. 

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