It can be hard to judge a trend worth adopting, and it’s no different when it comes to email marketing trends. In this post, we’ll break down five of the trends we think live up to the hype.

Some trends speak to us immediately and we jump at the chance to try them out. Others can take a bit more convincing. For instance, the first time I saw an Instagram Story I thought it was terrible.

It was too complicated, there was too much going on, and I thought the feature was going to completely ruin the vibe of my favorite social media app.

A couple of years later and Stories is the first part of the app I check and the most frequently updated. 

So yes, it can be hard sometimes to judge a trend. At best trends can revolutionize our lives (*checks my Instagram Story*), sometimes they just quietly fade away (ahem, Clubhouse), and at worst they can turn out to be scams that cost us money, energy, and sanity (just ask any of the Theranos investors…).

Without further ado, here is my list of email marketing trends you don’t want to sleep on. The Instagram Stories of email marketing trends, if you will…

Trend #1: Email Retention Programs

Creating loyal customers has always been a huge goalpost for brands, but as habits have changed during the pandemic, the deck has been shuffled.

This is especially true in the travel and hospitality industries. For example, maybe frequent business travel had you staying at a specific hotel chain and once those points built up you stayed with the brand because it wouldn’t be financially beneficial not to. As travel dwindled during the pandemic and hotel loyalty points expired, the opportunity to switch to a new hotel chain became less of a liability, and keeping customers engaged with a robust email retention program has become more important than ever.

Smart brands are working hard to keep customer loyalty front of mind, and they’re focusing on rewarding engagement and not just transactions. While sales of Peloton have investors concerned recently, the business has given us some great examples of keeping users engaged. The email below offers value by providing subscribers with a sample workout schedule that also links them to specific Peloton classes. This offers a service to the reader but also encourages engagement. 

Peloton email provides subscribers with a sample workout schedule that also links them to specific Peloton classes.
Email courtesy of Really Good Emails

Trend #2: Progressive Profiling

This trend isn’t exactly an email marketing trend but bear with me here as there are email implications. 

Simply put, progressive profiling enables you to set up forms that will display questions based on the information you already have on a contact.

Progressive profiling gives your subscribers a more pleasant experience with your brand, reducing friction during your interactions with them.

Progressive profiling also allows you to capture additional lead intelligence you can use to better segment, nurture, and sell to that person in the future – making your email marketing more effective and impactful.

Here’s a great example of an email from Bespoke Post asking subscribers to log in to update their information. Ideally, the form would include questions that they haven’t previously asked to avoid repetition and build out a well-rounded profile.

email from Bespoke Post asking subscribers to log in to update their information
Email courtesy of Really Good Emails 

Trend #3: Improving Your Use of Zero and First-Party Data

Consumer privacy is at the forefront of many people’s minds these days, while at the same time subscribers expect a personalized experience from your brand that depends on data. This can feel like a catch-22 for marketers, but it’s also a great opportunity to up your game when it comes to zero and first-party data.

For context, first-party data is information given implicitly by customers and subscribers, and zero-party data is information given explicitly by customers and subscribers. It’s arguably the most powerful type of data because it’s coming directly from the source, as opposed to second or third-party data, which is coming from an outside source.

One popular example of a brand using zero-party data is Spotify’s Wrapped, a year-in-review campaign personalized to a user’s account. The success of the streaming service’s campaign shows us how to successfully use data to give consumers the type of personalized experience they crave.

In the email pictured below Spotify used data collected about the artists a subscriber listened to most throughout the year and compiled merchandise from those artists that the subscriber might be interested in. What zero-party data are you collecting now that could be used to get subscribers and customers involved with your brand? 

Spotify used data collected about the artists a subscriber listened to most throughout the year and compiled merchandise from those artists that the subscriber might be interested in

 

Trend #4: Email Authentication (BIMI)

By now you’ve probably seen brands sending out emails with their logo appearing next to the email in the inbox (if you’re not sending them yourself). 

That logo placement is all thanks to BIMI, which stands for Brand Indicators for Message Identification. Launched in 2019, the vendor-neutral standard allows brands to display a verified logo in the receiver’s inbox next to fully authenticated emails. 

The intent of BIMI is to incentivize major brands to adopt proper email authentication – DMARC in particular – when sending mass messages to consumers. Senders who put in the effort to implement DMARC are rewarded with the display of their logo, similar to what appears for brands with a Google Plus profile.

BIMI isn’t exactly new at this point, but it’s still less utilized than other authentication methods. Now that BIMI’s been around for a few years, expect more brands to begin to implement it for their email marketing.

Bimi allows brands to display a verified logo in the receiver’s inbox next to fully authenticated emails

Trend #5: Email Design Systems

In our recently published Email in 2022 benchmark report, an entire section was dedicated to email geek burnout. We live in an age when we’re expected to carry on as though life is completely normal while coping with (sorry for this) unprecedented pressures ranging from health to home life, to the political landscape.

It’s no wonder that according to an American Psychological Association report, burnout is at an all-time high with 79% of employees reporting they’d experienced work-related stress in the month prior to their survey. Meanwhile, nearly 3 in 5 employees reported negative impacts of work-related stress, including lack of interest, motivation, or energy at work.

When it comes to email, workloads have increased – some heavily – to accommodate the rapidly evolving health and business environment.

The current state of the world we live in leads us to believe that any trend that takes some of the pressure off is one worth supporting. 

Indeed, an Email Design System is intended to help take some of the pressure off of email teams, empowering the creation of high-quality, on-brand emails that can be made by anyone, at pace and scale, and without risking any branding mistakes. 

Everyone on your team who is involved in the email process will be able to confidently create email, eliminating struggles like a lack of coding knowledge, waiting on teams to make updates, design QAs, maintaining multiple templates, etc.

Focus on the Email Marketing Trends that Work for Your Brand

We predict that retention programs, progressive profiling, improving your use of zero and first-party data, BIMI, and the use of Email Design Systems will take on more importance this year – but as always, marketing teams should avoid adopting trends that don’t align with their brand.

If the last couple of years has taught us anything it’s that you can’t be all things to all people. Prioritize the trends that will get your brand to your specific goals – those are the trends you should be into. 

~ Elsbeth Russell, SparkPost Community Manager

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