Written by Shelley Bowdler

2017 saw email marketing stay top of the agenda for many marketing professionals. And there’s no signs of it moving any time soon. According to the Content Marketing Institute’s B2B content marketing trends report, 93% of B2B marketers said they use email to distribute content.

With so many businesses competing for inbox space, tired email marketing tactics won’t be enough to cut through the noise. So how can you make sure your email communications stand out?

Here are the top trends that we expect to shake up email marketing this year:

Email personalisation

Think email personalisation means addressing recipients by first name? Personalisation has moved on. Now businesses need to think about using data to share timely and relevant messages with customers to give them what they need, when they need it.

Try spending some time segmenting your lists and crafting personalised emails that show you understand your audience. You might find that your mailers drive significantly more engagement. Salesforce found that 52% of consumers are likely to switch brands if they don’t make an effort to personalise their communications. Are you missing a trick?

Large B2C brands are increasingly bringing personalisation to the individual level. Remember Coca-Cola’s personalised ‘Share a Coke’ campaign? 76,000 virtual cans were shared online, and product sales grew for the first time in a decade.

With larger brands setting customer expectations of personalised cross-channel brand experiences, we’re expecting to see more personalised emails from businesses of all sizes.

Automation and AI technologies

Automation will continue to be a hot topic. Using AI and machine learning to make intelligent decisions about which emails to send (and when) can be an effective way to reach your audience.

When readers subscribe to your email list, give them the option to self-segment. Ask which products or services they’re interested in, or where they’re based. With this information, you can deliver an email that’s tailored to their interests and sent when they’re most likely to be online in their time zone.

Get this right and it shouldn’t feel like automation. Instead, it should help emails to feel more human, creating deeper connections with your audience.

Focus on conversations over conversions

Using a conversational tone in emails can create a more personal experience with your reader. Ask questions. Be inclusive. Express your personality.

Big retail brands like Burberry are bringing more dynamic and interactive (known as ‘kinetic’) experiences to customers’ inboxes; like hover effects and animated carousels. But smaller businesses are scaling back the bells and whistles and sending text-only emails that seem less like a sales pitch and more like a conversation. And there’s room for both approaches – test, then review your email statistics to get an understanding of what works for you and your business.

2018 brings big opportunities for email marketing, but also new challenges, such as the forthcoming General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), which will come into effect in May. If you’re looking for support with your email marketing strategy, or want to better understand how you can ensure you’re GDPR compliant, get in touch! We’d love to discuss how we can help your business to build stronger relationships with your customers.

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