2021 Trends in Email Marketing

Last year, the world had to pivot in a major way. Businesses were forced to move remote; many industries suffered months of mandatory closure; and schools reimagined the way classrooms interact.


As the world adapted and became more physically distant, digital communication surged. In fact, 45% more emails were sent in 2020 compared to 2019, and eCommerce orders tripled.


Over the months of working from home and remote learning, subscriptions skyrocketed. As consumers were encouraged to stay home, they became more likely to make purchases and browse products from their home offices or living room couches.


It’s fair to say email has become one of the most effective marketing channels out there, and the data to back it up is only climbing. As a business owner, this emphasizes the need to create excellent emails. And it’s a little more involved than coming up with a generic email and pressing send.


There are a five key trends to incorporate in your overall strategy that will help you write emails that are not only opened, but read through and clicked!


1. Community Awareness

After a year plagued by a global pandemic and social unrest, consumers are prioritizing morals and ethics. In fact, 71% of consumers seek brands with similar values. Luvvie Ajayi Jones has a useful formula for deciding whether or not your brand should take a stand. If you answer yes to all three of the following questions, then you should:

  • Does your brand mean it? Are the words authentic values, or are you simply speaking up to be trendy?

  • Can your brand defend it? Are you willing to justify your position if you meet opposition?

  • Can your brand say it thoughtfully? Can you properly communicate your message and foster a positive reception with your constituents?

Part of brand equity means building a brand that is empathetic and one that resonates with your target audience. Consider leveraging your voice to address local or national causes that are near and dear to your heart — this display of care and concern simultaneously progresses your mission and increases your favor.


2. Mobile Optimization

In a world of connectivity and increased screen time, mobile devices account for about 60% of email opens. With over half of your captive audience browsing on their phone, it’s no longer a bonus to test your emails across devices — it’s a necessity.


3. Dark Mode

Speaking of mobile optimization, dark mode is used by about 36% of iPhone users, according to Litmus. After the major shift to at-home work and school, consumers are accruing far more screen time than ever before. This takes a major toll on the eyes, and since dark mode has been proven to alleviate eye strain and improve low-light conditions, it’s popularity is surging.


As you create your emails, ensure that you’re testing in dark mode and optimizing your designs to accommodate it. Some logos or fonts might appear harsh or even distorted on a dark background. (For tips and tricks, check out this article.)


4. Relying on Media

The importance of visual storytelling isn’t a new trend, but some of the stats are an impressive reminder. Embedding videos directly into emails has been shown to boost click rates by as much as 300%. Additionally, adding GIFs and fun animation add a human, quirky element to your emails that help make your brand feel much more accessible to your audience.


As multimedia becomes table stakes, “gamification,” is expected to soar in popularity with influencer marketing. An example of gamified marketing would be competitions requesting user-generated content to improve engagement.


5. Automation/Personalization

More time online means more expectations. Salesforce reports that 68% of customers have elevated their standards for a brand's digital capabilities.


It’s no longer enough to add a first name to the beginning of an email. Instead, you have to dig through your email list to properly segment your audience members (segmented emails make readers 50 percent more likely to click on a link within the email), A/B test for subject lines and best time of day to send, and create content that feels perfectly personalized. Thankfully, automation is here to save the day, boasting 119% higher click rates than broadcast emails.


Automated emails include welcome emails, abandoned cart emails, and milestone emails, like birthdays. However, you should stretch these benchmarks to include various touchpoints of the customer journey and increase your brand’s perceived value. Although it sounds like a lot of work in the beginning, 30% of those surveyed claim that they saved time from marketing automation and that it made a big impact on their business function.


Although 2020 brought a giant shift to the world, technology allows us to stay connected. As entrepreneurs and marketers, it’s important to take advantage of the digital trends that enhance our strategies and communication.


As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions!