With nearly 105 billion emails being sent each day, we have a solid case for email marketing as one of the most lucrative marketing channels for businesses. However, as the email marketing technology continues to evolve, are marketers ready to suffice the needs of the contemporary user? The truth is serious marketers are evolving to become extremely sophisticated in using email technologies. Backed by huge amounts of customer data, clear definition of audience, their buying trends, and overall behavior, marketers are now able to craft personalized and relevant experiences for their users. As marketers delivering the very best conversations and experiences to our email subscribers is at the forefront of all our marketing initiatives. With the technology available at our fingertips, let’s start to make the most of it. We hope you had a great 2017 engaging your prospects via emails. Let’s discover the best trends that will be a complete transformation of emails than the traditional approach. That’s why we call it….

The Metamorphosis of Email UX

Here’s what we believe are the most promising trends and predictions for email marketing to keep an eye on for 2018. We have segmented these trends into 3 categories, namely Design, contextual mails and multi-channel integration. Let’s have a look at each one of them in detail.


  1. Progressive Design

An increasing number of people are now accessing mails through smartphones and tablet devices. Businesses have started inclining towards responsive design over the last 2-3 years. Statistics say that 51% of emails are now opened on a mobile device. (Source: Litmus “Email Client Market Share Trends For 2017) “Progressive” or “Responsive” emails are designed to adjust the layout or the content depending on defined parameters, in most of the circumstances, the width of the screen. Under responsive there are various techniques that allow the creation of robust emails across screen types. The most common elements are media queries, percentage widths, and conditional statements. The most used responsive coding method is Hybrid, or spongy. It is the most robust and largely future proof approach to responsive coding for email. Example of Progressive Design From River Island Mobile Version Desktop Version  

  1. Interactivity & Design

Interactivity gives the freedom to the subscriber to click inside the email and discover new content or take other interactive actions within an email. There are several possibilities, including email carousels, hamburger menus, search bars, and even add-to-cart functionality. Now comes the shocker…. Litmus in a poll during the start of 2017 asked 1200 marketers about the most promising email marketing trends. Here is the outcome: More than a quarter of marketers backed up interactive emails as the most trending email element in 2017. Interactive emails are not necessarily for attention or fun. But, they also enhance your brand value and are successful in setting up the expectation with your subscribers. It is in early days, but there are opportunities to genuinely enhance the inbox experience for users. Animated Gifs, shopping carts, and gamification are well-established to engage and retain subscribers. The evolution of email clients has made it easy for businesses to provide a vibrant, live email that engages the audience. Here are our picks for an interactive experience in emails:  Use of GIF in Emails (https://www.smartinsights.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/vxVj0Rq-Imgur.gif) Gamification in Emails (https://www.smartinsights.com/email-marketing/email-creative-and-copywriting/6-sophisticated-examples-dynamic-content-emails-2017/attachment/email-gif)  

  1. Videos

According to this report on WordStream, an initial email with a video receives an increase click-through rate by 96%. The same Litmus report mentioned in “Interactive Emails” section ranks HTML5 videos at the 3rd position. Video has a noteworthy impact on email KPIs including:

  • Boost open rates by 19%.
  • Boost click-through rates by 65%.
  • Reduce unsubscribes by 26%.

Click-through plays that leads to a web browser are a thing of the past. HTML5 now gives marketers to play videos within the emails. However, it is recommended to offer a video-animated GIF or static GIF if the email client isn’t HTML5 compatible. This email from Mario Batali incorporates video in email to teach subscribers different cooking techniques.  

Contextual Mails

  1. Dynamic Personalization

We already know that creating dynamic content that is tailored based on the specific interactions of the individual subscriber is already in practice. However, it could become more sophisticated by bringing in Machine Learning. Promotions are one of the most common kind of email in eCommerce. So, it doesn’t come as a surprise to see them dominate personalization in this channel. What surprises more is that only 39% of retailers are sending personalized product recommendations through emails. Personalization and segmentation takes new strides with dynamic customization. Here, the user gets dynamic content on clicking through the mail based on their previous interactions and the machine’s understanding. Here is an example: The layout of the above email is divided in 5 sections:

  • Hero banner: Customized content based on customer profile.
  • Customer lifecycle module: Displays offers based on the current lifecycle stage of the subscriber.
  • Behavioral module: It includes a wide range of products based on subscribers past behavior that includes abandoned baskets, browsed but not bought, likeliness to buy and more.
  • Product modules: A simple product recommendations modules based on the likes of the subscriber.
  • Local module: If you have some information on local products, services, or activity, this is the best module to give additional information.
  1. Predictive Intelligence
  • Aberdeen Group interviewed 123 financial companies. They observed that companies that implemented predictive intelligence managed to achieve an 11 per cent increase in the number of clients.
  • According to a survey by Forbes of 306 executives, those companies that carried out predictive marketing for at least 2 years, 86% of them increased their ROI.

The concept of predictive intelligence for emails applies when you want to add propensity models to identify the content, products, and offers that will get more response. Retailers can recommend products based on previous purchases. Cold Stone does a great job here by sending personalized messages to birthday boys and girls by giving a “buy one get one free” offer on each subscriber’s birthday. You capture a required data (in this case DOB) of the user and store that in a dynamic database so that the email is automatically sent before the birthday.

Multi-Channel Integration

  1. Lifecycle

According to this report by SiriusDecisions, 67% of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally––before a lead ever contacts your sales department. Reviewing opportunities for automation across the whole lifecycle stage is a must-have if you want to make email marketing your winning bet. Lifecycle email is a huge opportunity. It could help you accomplish nearly all marketing goals, including engagement and conversion. Behavioral data also naturally allows integrating lifecycle marketing in emails. If you don’t have any lifecycle targeting, turning a one-time buyer into a multi-purchaser is the initial starting point for you. Brands with many SKUs, or highly varied content and diverse audience are utilizing the user behavior to target content within emails. This helps them in creating highly dynamic emails in which most of the part is tailored to the needs of the individual. The most important types of lifecycle mails that your marketing should include are:

  • Onboarding emails
  • Subscriber emails
  • Promotional emails
  • Transactional emails
  • Behavioral emails
  1. Integration of Shopping Cart

According to SaleCycle, close to half of all abandoned cart emails are opened and a third of clicks are directed to purchases back on the website. Abandoned shopping cart emails is the finest example of integrating a system within emails. They are sent to those who have added products on their cart but didn’t move ahead to check out. Although, at this moment it is difficult to integrate this type of data, it could help you in generating immediate interest from the audience who had earlier selected their favorite product. There are various reasons behind abandoned cart except customer-intent. Maybe the website would have crashed, or the site timed out. Abandoned cart emails are a great source to recover these sales. Here are some examples of inspirational abandoned cart emails:

Conclusion – Success Mantras for Email Marketing

Firstly, create a solid and committed strategy that is headed by top management. Establish a data repository followed by strong content team and offers that align with the interests of your target audience across various lifecycles. At the center of all your marketing initiatives, is the ability to track user behavior and automate your processes to suffice the needs of your users based on this data. All the best practices given in this article will shape into success with these best practices. Author Bio: Dev is the Head of Marketing at HubMonks, a company providing dedicated HubSpot Email Templates, Landing Pages, COS Development and PSD to HubSpot services. Dev loves to share valuable insights on HubSpot’s marketing software, content optimization system (COS) and the best practices to set up successful inbound marketing campaigns. You can contact him on Twitter.    Header image credit: interiii]]>