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Email marketing trends: What was promised in 2023, and our predictions for 2024

December 15 - 2023

Email Marketing Content 5 min read

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The weather is freezing, the Christmas trees are up, and the shops are filled with panicked customers.

It looks like 2023 is coming to an end!

What better way to bring in the new year than looking back on the most impactful email trends of the past 12 months?

From customer-focused email to data privacy, thought leaders predicted big things for 2023. And in this guide, we will explore what trends came into fruition, and what was put on the backburner.

Looking towards 2024, we want to support you in hitting the ground running. So, we’ve also put together some of our favourite trends for the coming year, and why we think they’ll make an impact.

Predicted email marketing trends for 2023

Let’s begin by looking over the past year at some of the most anticipated email marketing trends, and whether or not they were a hit.

Customer-centricity

Customer-centric email marketing refers to a strategic approach which puts the customer first, prioritising their individual needs, interests, preferences, and behaviour at every touchpoint of both their email campaigns and marketing experience as a whole.

The approach focuses on building engaging, meaningful relationships by delivering highly relevant, personalised, and valuable email communications which enhance the recipients' overall experience with the brand.

Over the past few years, there have been shifts in both customer buying behaviour, with consumers expecting more personalised shopping experiences, and marketing technology advancement. Resulting in customer-centric email marketing being predicted as a key trend for any brand in 2023.

Was customer-centricity a key trend in 2023?

Absolutely. And it’s a trend we see remaining strong for years to come. It is already proving successful, with 77% of marketers experiencing an increase in email engagement in 2023.

Customer-centric email marketing has been implemented by brands in numerous ways throughout the year, including:

  • Hyper-personalisation via the use of behavioural and purchase data alongside AI and dynamic content.
  • Interactive content directly within emails, including product demonstrations, virtual tours, and quizzes.
  • Customer feedback loops utilising surveys and simple questionnaires to gather feedback from recipients to continue to improve their campaigns.
  • Increases in dark mode email design which gives users a break from their brightly lit screens.

ASOS use past browsing and purchasing behaviour to deliver individual personalised edits for each recipient.

AI-powered email marketing automation

Marketers are busier than ever.

Over 40% report that the number of campaigns they work on each quarter increased from 2021 to 2022, and showed no signs of slowing down into 2023.

With this challenge weighing on thought leaders' minds, AI was hailed as a transformative tactic that can automate repetitive, time-consuming tasks which are taking up marketers’ valuable time.

And by this, we don’t simply mean spell-checking or content creation, AI has proven itself as a tool that can do lots more:

  • Automate the process of managing data to segment audiences.
  • Personalising content to segments and individuals with the use of preferences, behaviour, and purchase data.
  • Optimising send times to ensure specific audiences receive emails at the times they are most engaged.
  • Streamlining processes including analysing large data sets to identify trends and suggestions for planning purposes.

These are all tasks that are essential to remain competitive in almost any industry, but equally are not quick to implement manually.

Was AI-powered email marketing automation a key trend in 2023?

Reports have shown that in 2023 57% of enterprise marketers have been utilising AI-powered email marketing, a significant increase from only 26% in 2022.

Even better, Hubspot has reported that 95% of marketers who use generative AI for email creation rate it "effective," with 54% rating it "very effective."

It’s clear from these statistics that AI-powered email marketing is continuing to take the industry by storm, and businesses have increasingly recognised the power of AI to automate, personalise, and properly plan their email marketing campaigns.

Interactive and immersive email

Today, consumers crave more than a good deal from a brand. They also crave connection.

In fact, 64% of consumers report they want brands to connect with them, and 83% are more likely to purchase from a brand they have an emotional connection with.

With the growing availability of interactive technologies coupled with the increased popularity of video content (the average person watches 17 hours of online video per week, up from 19 hours in 2022), it’s unsurprising that interactive elements were predicted to be popular within email campaigns.

Interactivity can be achieved in email marketing by using elements which are most likely to engage subscribers and immerse them in a narrative experience. It builds upon popular storytelling techniques, which aim to evoke emotion and build a connection with the recipient by embedding dynamic elements that directly involve interaction.

Was interactive and immersive email a trend in 2023?

We have already witnessed a range of interactive and immersive techniques in email marketing, including:

  • Product demonstrations which directly involve the user in unboxing, setting up, usage, and the benefits of a product.
  • Virtual tours that emulate a one-to-one demonstration or show-around of a product or place, without the user needing to leave their home.
  • Gamification in the form of interactive polls, quizzes, and surveys that produce results that are personal to the recipient, such as recommended products or services based on their answers.

However, the dominant interactive and immersive content in email still often requires users to click away from the inbox to engage. Overall, we’d love to see recipients be able to interact with content inside the email, as opposed to having to navigate to a landing page.

This reduction in required clicks means that marketers can hold recipients' engagement for longer, and make the process of using interactive elements far smoother for the end user.

Pretty Little Thing incorporates an animated wheel in their email to encourage users to ‘spin’ to win prizes.

Data privacy and building trust

Modern-day consumers are a savvy bunch, with an increasingly heightened awareness of how their data is being collected and used by brands.

Couple this with stricter data privacy regulations in recent years, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and it’s unsurprising that data privacy and the process of building trust was predicted to be a key priority for email marketers in 2023.

However, a 2022 study by Gartner reported that 60% of marketing leaders believed that collecting data whilst balancing privacy and customer value was going to be more challenging in 2023. So it’s clear that this trend wasn’t going to be a smooth journey for many.

There are a range of data privacy processes that email marketers have already been putting in place, which were predicted to become increasingly standardised as consumers became more conscious of how their data is being used. This includes:

  • Obtaining explicit consent from recipients before sending them marketing emails.

  • Prioritising first-party data which is collected directly from subscribers.

  • Enhancing data security to protect subscriber information from unauthorised access, breaches, and misuse.
  • Providing transparency about data collection and usage practices.

  • Staying up-to-date with and adhering to evolving data privacy regulations.

Was data privacy and building trust a key trend in 2023?

2023 turned out to be a pivotal year for consumer privacy.

Whilst privacy laws such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU are not new, technological advancements such as ChatGPT opened consumers' eyes to the vast possibilities of having access to endless data and information.

Whilst it’s difficult to comment on what is going on behind the scenes for many businesses regarding their data policies, it’s clear that changes in legislation and increasing consumer awareness will continue to force brands into addressing their data privacy policies. Helping to build trust and confidence with their audience in the process.

And watch out for the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill (DPDI) due to complete its progress through the UK parliament in 2024.

Email marketing trends for 2024

Now that we’ve covered what’s happened over the past year, let’s look to 2024 at some of our favourite predicted trends to help you keep ahead of the competition, and prepare for a successful year.

Predictive analytics

Predictive analytics is the next step in the evolution of personalisation in email marketing, utilising historical data, current trends, and machine learning algorithms to predict future customer behaviour and preferences.

This helps email marketers make informed decisions about their email campaigns to continue to improve their targeting and relevancy.

And predictive analytics has already taken the marketing world by storm, with 95% of businesses integrating the technique into their marketing strategy. This is perhaps unsurprising, as 4 out of 5 marketing executives report difficulty in making data-driven decisions.

The range of insights marketers can gain from predictive analytics is vast, including:

  • The segments of recipients that are most likely to engage with and convert from email.
  • Types of subject lines, content, and products which resonate most with specific audience segments.
  • Personalisation elements which engage with certain individuals and audience segments most successfully.
  • Patterns in specific customer purchase history to predict future purchases.
  • Specific customers who are at risk of churning or who are likely to be highly loyal.

Accessible email design

There are 1.3 billion disabled people, representing 17% of the population. And they have a combined global purchasing power of $8 trillion, increasing by 14% per annum.

However, only 10% of businesses have a targeted strategy for this market.

Accessibility is becoming a crucial aspect of marketing in general, to ensure that all recipients can enjoy the same positive experience, regardless of their capabilities.

Accessible email design refers to the practice of creating emails that are easy to read, understand, and engage with for people of all ages and abilities. This includes people with visual challenges, cognitive disabilities, and motor impairments.

By designing their emails with accessibility in mind, businesses can ensure that their message reaches a wider audience, whilst practising being an inclusive and welcoming brand.

To achieve this, there are a range of factors that should be taken into consideration, including (but certainly not limited to):

  • Clear and concise content and language.
  • Proper colour contrast between text and backgrounds.
  • Alternative text in images for those who rely on screen readers.
  • Structured HTML code to ensure content can be interpreted by assistive technologies.
  • Clear and visibly distinguishable links.
  • Regular testing of email campaigns for accessibility.

Lloyds utilise their brand palette to ensure colour contrasting throughout and CTAs that are clearly visible.

Augmented Reality (AR)

Augmented reality, an offshoot of Virtual Reality (think Oculus headsets and immersive gaming experiences), refers to a technology which overlays digital information onto the real world with the use of a smartphone or other device with a camera.

The result is an interactive experience that enhances consumers' perception of a physical environment, by blending virtual elements with reality.

Furthermore, 70% of technology leaders anticipate that the AR market will surpass the VR market in revenues. And by the end of 2023, it is predicted that there will be 1.4 billion AR device users globally.

AR technology builds upon current trends for creating immersive and engaging email experiences, allowing recipients to virtually interact with products or places, visualise them in their surroundings, and enhance their understanding of what you offer.

And with a little creativity, there are lots of ways that AR can be added to email campaigns:

  • Virtual product demos that allow recipients to interact with your products or place.
  • 360-degree product views so that recipients can explore products from all angles.
  • AR-powered try-ons which are perfect for clothes, makeup, and accessories.
  • AR-enhanced store experiences to guide recipients through store layouts and showcase products.

Nike utilises AR to measure a customer’s feet and recommend the right shoe size, whilst not embedded into email, this is a great first step in AR uptake by a significant brand. Image Source.

Sustainable email marketing

Sustainability in email marketing may come as a surprise to some. After all, email is paperless!

However, whilst this is true, email is not entirely green. Every email sent uses energy to be delivered, and this cumulative carbon footprint can become substantial. Especially with over 330 billion emails being sent on a daily basis.

By making their emails more sustainable, not only can brands help the environment but they can also resonate with an increasingly sustainably-minded audience.

There are a number of simple best practices that can be implemented to support sustainability:

  • Update and clean your email lists regularly so that you are only reaching out to engaged subscribers.
  • Reduce the size of your email through compressed images and simplified code to consume less energy.
  • Tailor your emails to specific segments and individuals to decrease the number of emails that are unopened or ignored.
  • Ensure your emails have a purpose to ensure they are not being sent, and energy is being wasted, unnecessarily.

While the above may seem like a drop in the ocean, this sustainably-minded approach to email marketing will have a cumulative, positive effect over the years.

In summary

It can be difficult to predict what the future holds in email marketing.

But by identifying common themes, such as focusing on the customer, working smarter, and complying with best practice standards, your email marketing can transcend trends to remain successful year after year.

That being said, trends offer insights into the latest technology and strategies which you may not have even been aware of.

If you want to ensure that your email marketing is as good as it can possibly be, taking into account customer experience, competitor activity, and the latest in email marketing, then we can help.

Our team of experts actively research and train in the latest email marketing trends to ensure our customers can stay ahead of the curve.

So get in touch today to become a brand that leads in email marketing, instead of follows.

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