2017 brought quite a bit of change to the email landscape. With consumer behavior being heavily influenced by the “on demand” nature of society, everything from deliverability to design was re-evaluated by marketers in order to evolve their program strategy to keep up with the changing digital channel. From our vantage point in working with hundreds of clients across the email industry, we’ve seen these five themes emerge as the most notable email elements of the year:
Mobile saturation. After years of huge growth, mobile email usage has steadied. 71% of US consumers are consistently reading email on a mobile device. And, mobile opens have represented approximately 55% of all opens throughout 2017. Mobile is no longer the growing, new environment – mobile is the primary way in which subscribers are experiencing email.
Gmail deliverability. Reaching the Gmail inbox eluded many marketers this year. Gmail is undoubtedly the most sophisticated of mailbox providers, constantly testing new and different ways to update their sorting algorithm. With this year’s emphasis on subscriber engagement, traditional deliverability best practices didn’t apply, as we navigated new territory: subscriber interaction with mail circumvented sender reputation as the key deliverability factor.
Emojis in subject lines. Emojis were everywhere this year! They even had their own feature film this summer (The Emoji Movie). While using emojis in subject lines isn’t a new tactic, it reached fever pitch as more and more marketers used them in their message strategy. The fad delivered some short term success, as emojis did effectively pique interest and drive opens for many, but the fine line between fresh and overdone made it tough for emojis to justify a long-term place in subject line strategy.
Minimalist design. Long gone are the days of trying to cram everything into your emails. Some brands have even done away with their top navs to get to a more minimalistic template. You only have a few seconds of someone’s attention before they move on…and a cluttered email is the best way to lose their attention. See some examples of who does this well here.
Behavioral Data. Relevancy is KING and you have to be in that space if you want to keep on top of Gmail’s inboxing algorithms. In addition to Gmail, consumer behavior is constantly changing. As email marketers, you need to be where your customers are regardless of how you are structured as a company. As we begin to invite more and more “smart” devices into our lives, these hold an endless pool of priceless knowledge about our customers. Behavioral data provides information above and beyond what static data can provide.
Interested in more insights from fellow email marketers? Join the eec community or participate in a Meetup in your area. It’s a great way to knowledge share and network with your peers. Reach out to eec staff for more opportunities.
Bonnie Malone, Sr Director of Consulting & Knowledge at Return Path
Jennifer Hoth, Sr Relationship Marketing Strategist at DEG