Generating the highest ROI in marketing requires a cutting-edge design. Stay above the competition by being up to date with the latest design trends!

Remember the days when we all thought email was like, so yesterday?

Well, wrong! A decade ago, it may have seemed like social media and messaging would see the end of email, but that’s not how it panned out.

Checking email is still the number one online activity. And before you retort with an Ok, boomer comment, take note: youngsters are fans too. People under 35 actually prefer the relaxed nature of emails over other types of communication, like text or chat.

From a marketing viewpoint, email is unique. Gone are the days of spam bombardment—these days, people opt in, with 61% of customers saying they want brands to communicate with them by email.

And as for ROI: experts say that $1 spent on email marketing can give you up to a $42 return!

Email still rules the internet. And that’s because its content and design are ever evolving. Make sure you’re getting the most out of your efforts by considering these trends for 2020.

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1. Less is more

Only one problem with email’s unending appeal: in a business environment, each user now receives an average of 96 emails a day. That’s a lot of clamoring for attention!

To stand out in 2020, the last thing your email marketing needs is to be another shouty voice. Rather, it needs to be calm and clear.

That means clean design, a limited number of images and CTA buttons, and uncomplicated text.

Consider the welcome email from hip Swedish clothing brand, Weekday. In plain black and white, it explains just the very basics of what a potential customer might want to know:

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Welcome email from Weekday

Such simple, sharp communication becomes even more important if we think about tech developments:

  • the growing use of wearables—such as smartwatches—means that more of your audience are opening their emails on ever-smaller screens;
  • the increasing popularity of smart speakers means that more of your target users will never even see your text, instead having your emails read aloud.  

2. Mobile comes first

Ok, enough about Apple watches and Amazon Alexa. Their use may be growing, but there’s still only one type of device that’s top of the heap. And it’s … mobile!

Yes, that’s right. You may design your awesome marketing emails on a big, fancy desktop. But chances are, those same emails will be getting read on a relatively tiny mobile screen.

Nowadays, mobile browsing accounts for most internet traffic. And yet, the vast majority of marketing emails are not optimized for mobile.

So, in 2020, your email design can’t see mobile as an afterthought—it needs to come first.

That requires various things:

  • again, concise text which tells the user just enough to persuade them to click through to your site;
  • if including an image, the user should ideally see it as they open the email, without needing to scroll;
  • a CTA also near the start of the email, so that the user doesn’t need to scroll too much.

3. Interactivity matters

Ok, you want your marketing emails to be simple. But that does not mean boring! The point is, you don’t need screen-filling images or a zillion emojis when perhaps what your reader would prefer is to engage.

Interactive emails allow the user to interact with you without needing to leave their inbox. Perhaps you already use interactive features in your mails: clickable items like menus, CTAs, slideshows.

As software develops, so do the possibilities for email interactivity. Within the body of your email, games or videos can be a great way to get people to click. Or, if you’re looking to invigorate engagement and get to know those customers a bit better, go for an interactive form or quiz.

Quizzes for your audience can range from the helpful (e.g. Which phone contract is best for you?) to the amusing (If you were a shampoo, which brand would you be?).

An online quiz maker such as Typeform allows you to embed the initial question of that quiz into your email, allowing people to answer but also enticing them to your site to finish off.

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Example of Typeform quiz embedded in an email

Features such as these mean that interactive emails have been proven to raise click-to-open rates by a massive 73%!

4. Personalizing is awesome

We mentioned how spam emails are, thankfully, a dying breed. One of the reasons for this is that, far from a one-size-fits-all strategy, we’re now able to tailor emails.

Particularly for existing customers, we tend to already know quite a bit about them: location, gender, perhaps age, interests, past buying habits. This information is gold.

Various tools allow us to customize mails. A bookstore owner might use segmentation to send an email about Nick Cave’s new biography to their music-loving audience, while sending an email about a new cookbook to their foodie followers.

Beyond this, emails can get even more personal. Consider EasyJet’s 20th anniversary campaign, in which they emailed each subscriber with an emotional run-through of that passenger’s history with the brand.

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Example of EasyJet 20th anniversary personalized email

Personalization can also be great if you happen to deal both in B2B and B2C, allowing you to run separate email campaigns for each group.

If you're an eCommerce, you can use customer loyalty solutions, like Loyaly, to send personalized emails based on the behaviour of your customers

5. Not just a quick sale

The goal of your emails is, of course, to sell. But the more immediate goal of an email might sometimes be to develop customer loyalty or brand authenticity. Then perhaps you’ll notice that sales bump a little down the line.

In 2020, it’s hard to ignore the world around us. And many savvy email campaigns are choosing to tone down the sales pitch, instead focusing on content which seems relevant to the bigger picture.

Take the kings of wokeness at Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream. Obviously, their newsletters contain some info about, well, ice-cream! But they also include content related to wider society, laying out their brand values very clearly:

Example of Ben & Jerry’s newsletter linking to an article on climate activism

Because many of Ben & Jerry’s readers share these values, the newsletters turn the audience not only into customers, but also into brand ambassadors.

For your next email campaign, consider what wider issues (ideally brand-related) your audience might like to hear about. Use a slick infographic template to bring statistics to life, or take some behind-the-scenes photos of a charity drive at your office.

Then, put it all together in a simple email that lets your audience know that you care about the world just as much as they do.

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Email is one of the few types of marketing in which your audience opts in. This means they’ve shown an interest in your brand, but also that they’ve placed their trust in you. Repay that trust. Use your marketing emails to inform, to entertain, and indeed to engage.