7 email marketing trends worth trying to increase conversions

By Adeola Sole

Email is a highly powerful ‘push’ marketing channel. It enables brands and membership organisations to promote their products and services to customers and members in a convenient, timely and cost-effective way.

Yet, despite its formidable reach, email was often underestimated as a channel before Covid-19 struck. Email used to be seen as an option of last resort rather than as an integral element of a digital marketing strategy.

During the pandemic, not only was there an increase in volumes of marketing emails sent, but conversion rates increased as well. According to email and SMS marketing platform Omnisend, email promotional campaign conversions were up 14% year-on-year in 2021. Now email is increasingly becoming the cornerstone of digital marketing strategies for many brands and membership organisations alike. So this is the perfect time to grease those elbows and try new tactics to help grow engagement and conversions.

Here are seven trends for brands looking to unlock higher conversion rates from emails going forward:

1. Personalisation

Email marketing is more impactful when subscribers are treated as individuals with unique needs and preferences – even if you segment them into clusters for marketing purposes. Make sure you understand the different segments of your subscriber database and how active and engaged they are.

Once you begin to understand the nuances of your database, you can develop email marketing strategies that more effectively target your subscribers. For example, if you have numerous subscribers with low or moderate levels of engagement, you could focus on bespoke methods of reactivation.

For instance you could offer incentives, interact in a more personalised way using content, as well as the data you hold on them, or use more emotive wording within the messaging of your emails – perhaps acknowledging that it’s been a while since they last bought from you.

Believe it or not good copywriting is also a form of personalisation, yep I said it! Imagine having various emotive-led copy aimed towards an action you want your subscriber to take! That’s personalisation.

Holistic recently held a webinar on this very topic with the director of email marketing from Hello Fresh and Head of CRM at Rated people – check it out!

2. Content 

Content is king. Surprisingly, however, this major part of email marketing often gets overlooked or remains undeveloped. Without the right content and messaging your subscribers won’t click through to your website (which is the desired action), which means you’ll see a reduction in sessions, as well as conversions.

To ensure you’re delivering the most appropriate content, it’s important to conduct A/B split tests. For example, testing different subject lines, body copy, calls to action and imagery is a great place to start. You could also test the use of emotive content against a more standard approach.

Let me explain, instead of swapping out one image for another consider testing an image that has impact with supporting subject lines, CTAs and body copy all working together to prove if using emotive imagery and working increases clicks and by default conversions over a more standard image and copy. Catch my drift?

Testing will help you understand what kind of content will motivate your subscribers to click through to make a purchase, read an article or take out a membership. Once you understand what motivates them, you can implement your learnings on subsequent campaigns and make more effective use of your automations by applying your findings here too.

3. Design for mobile

Nearly two-thirds (63%) of UK buyers shop using their smartphone, according to data portal Statista. So, it is essential that email newsletter templates are mobile-friendly, with mobile-friendly fonts and content that stacks correctly.

Templates should also be responsive – i.e. they change depending on what size screen they are viewed – and use web-friendly prompts, such as cleverly designed CTA buttons that work cross device instead of  hyperlinked calls to action. Which can be difficult for users to not only read but navigate as well. Always think about the UX and the ease you want to present to your subscribers when designing for mobile.

I know it seems like an obvious statement to make but designing for mobile is still a trend as there are so many that aren’t doing it. One thing I will stress however is ensure that the footer is a part of the mobile design as it is still a useful and integral part of the email.

4. Automation

Automation enables brands to create highly personalised emails that reach the right subscribers, with the right message, at the right time (we all know this). But the technique is currently underused, undervalued and underrepresented. According to Omnisend, automated messages generated 30% of all email marketing orders in 2021, but accounted for just 2.2% of email sends. That alone should show you just how important it is to include automations within your marketing strategy.

When implementing automations, don’t just set up your programmes and leave them alone because you won’t be maximising their potential. Use A/B split testing to continuously iterate your automated campaigns. For example, if you have a welcome journey, and you want to test specific imagery or content, have a split stream for that. The idea is to test all of your automated campaigns to see which winning combinations drive the highest conversion rates.

5. Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) tools can help you improve email open and conversion rates. For example, they can enable hyper-personalisation by creating emails that are innately tailored to the personal preferences and actions/inactions of subscribers.

As AI can predict subscribers’ behaviour by looking at previous actions and patterns, it can make valuable recommendations for cross-selling and upselling to certain segments of subscribers. AI enables marketers to engage with subscribers in a more holistic way (see what I did there?), creating new opportunities for them to buy by focusing on their behaviour, intent and propensity to convert to another product or service. This approach coupled with personalisation elements of your own (as mentioned above) will no doubt create the Superman of all emails.

6. Dark mode

Dark mode is a setting for technological devices that uses light-coloured text and graphics set against a dark background. Dark mode reduces eye strain and exposure to blue light while helping to save the battery life of devices. A poll conducted by online publication Android Authority found that 81.9% of its readers use dark mode on their phones, in apps and wherever it’s available.

Already, many brands are designing emails that work in dark mode as well as in normal view, and this will continue to be a major customer experience trend going forwards. If you’d like to find out more on how you can optimise your existing templates for dark mode users then send us an email and we’d be happy to help.

7. Data privacy and protection

Under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), you are able to process subscribers’ personal data on the basis of ‘legitimate interests’. So membership organisations, in particular, have an opportunity to communicate information to subscribers that those subscribers may not have explicitly signed up to receive in the first place.

For example, subscribers may have signed up to receive a newsletter, but you could also provide them with content relating to events or continuing professional development. If you have a legal department or external legal advisers, it is worth having a conversation with them to explore what ‘legitimate interests’ could reasonably cover in the context of your own organisation.

You should also be aware that it is considered best practice to not contact any subscriber that has been disengaged for 24 months or more. Practising good list hygiene is important not only from a GDPR perspective but it helps maintain good deliverability and sender reputation. I know technically this isn’t really a trend but it’s a little nugget I wanted to share because too often we see clients who literally cripple under the ‘red tape’ of permissions. So I’m hoping this will be food for thought for someone. And when in doubt we are here to answer any questions.