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  • Writer's pictureTom Kothman

25 Email Marketing Trends to Monitor in 2022


Photo by Jeremy Bezanger

Here are 25 trends that will impact email marketing in 2022. The list was aggregated from surfing dozens of blogs, newsletters, and email industry influencers; it is not exhaustive but probably hits about 80-90% of the trends that matter. This list is intended to stimulate your thinking strategically about email marketing in the coming year. The trends are organized by three degrees of control:

Suggestion: If a particular trend piques your interest or seems likely to impact your organization, do an internet search putting “email marketing” in front of the trend like “email marketing paid newsletters” or “email marketing accessibility”. You’ll get a lot of paid ads but if you have the patience to drill down and beyond page one you’ll likely gain further insight and find some actionable information.


Within Your Control


Micro segmentation

Different from personalization, micro segmentation creates cohorts using highly refined demographic, age, patterns of behavior, types of product usage, etc. Think “metro Midwest millennials on Tik Tok during the day


Hyper-personalization


Contacts are increasingly familiar with the ability of marketers to track their interests based on various behaviors, patterns etc. Incorporating personal information is no longer a surprise and in fact most likely considered positively. If the email is not directed at THEM, the more quickly it gets trashed. It will require data mining activities.


Newsletter content that really matters

Perhaps a result of information overload and the generally accelerating pace of life, contacts are more likely to stay engaged with an email newsletter if it provides clear, quick and valuable information. This is not new but increases the obligation of the content provider to understand what really matters to the recipient. This may seem obvious, but strategically it requires getting on the other side of the conversation and then monitoring engagement.


Clean newsletter design

With the proliferation of pre-formatted layouts there is no reason to have clunky, boring and uninspired email newsletters. Subscribers now expect good looking, functional and appropriate layouts. We’ve come a long way from the early days of Microsoft Publisher!


Paid newsletters

Following in the pioneering footsteps major media like The Washington Post, New Yorker and the WSJ, if a newsletter provides true value now is the time to consider putting content behind the paywall or delivered exclusively to paid subscribers. Watch for second tier information providers to begin to shift in this direction.


Interactive newsletter content

Gamification, integration of order forms within emails, scratch-off technology and animation are popping up across the spectrum. This is certainly worth testing vs. a “control” format to gauge stickiness and revenue generation.


Mobile Optimization

Benchmark the percent of users reading email in the mobile format and track changes in 2022 at least on a quarterly basis. As mobile devices continue adding more power, functionality and 5G rolls out the shift could be surprising.


Short Form or Postcard Emails

Not that short form emails ever went out of fashion, short and sweet, to the point -even text only – appears to be favored over long form emails perhaps designed for SEO purposes. Short form emails, if crafted to instantly make an intellectual connection, are more likely to break through the in the cluttered email inbox. At least we’ll probably see lots of experimentation with this form.


Landing Page Quality

ESP’s have expanded the ability of email marketers to create specific, dedicated landing pages for individual campaigns, automations, segments, etc. It all boils down to relevancy and fewer clicks.


User-generated content (UGC)

The strategic value of user generated content (UGC in email marketing lingo) is that it is not sponsored and therefore is assumed to not be biased. Integration of UGC in email campaigns, follow-up automations, pop-ups, etc. adds a proof statement supporting the sales premise.


Accessibility

Watch for and incorporate into your email structure consideration of accessibility elements. It is the mission of Accessible email.org [https://www.accessible-email.org/about/] to promote email marketing accessibility and usability. Evaluate how accessible your emails are with this organization’s accessibility evaluator. You might be surprised.


New KPI’s in 2022

No doubt you’ve been tracking open rates, but with the increased focus on privacy, Apple’s MPP and third party cookies crumbling, email marketers will be challenged to measure performance in new and multiple ways. If you have the data consider developing an expanded set of KPI’s that will connect revenue to various measures of email performance such as segment ROI, list growth, and opt-in conversion rate from email-to-website visitors.


Within Your Sphere of Influence


Social Endorsements & Reviews

Integrating unsolicited product review into your email program is a push tactic. Developing mechanisms for encouraging and submitting reviews is a pro-active, collaborative process depending in part on the other party’s desire and willingness to participate. For instance, consider encouraging reviews or feedback in a P.S. to your emails or integrating a customer satisfaction survey in order confirmation emails. In other words, provide the mechanism and stimulus for getting more UGC.


Gen Z engagement

Gen Z (born between 1997 and 2021) is a unique cohort in that they are the only generation emerging and economically empowered into a technologically sophisticated world experiencing a pandemic. Consequently, understanding and appealing to their motivations, values and expectations will be intellectually and strategically challenging.


Generational Engagement

Each generation from WWII to Gen Z has their unique world perspective. Being able to see your actions through the generational cohorts’ eyes will become strategically important to the selected style, format, type, content, accessibility and, ultimately, the success of your email marketing program.


Privacy

This will be a dynamic factor in 2022, forcing marketers and publishers who use email to reach their subscriber base to rethink some of the ways they’ve measured, monetized, or used email. Strategically it might result in more sophisticated measurement of email performance or greater reliance on other communication channels.


Integration with other channels

Considering the privacy policy impact mentioned above, email marketers may need to integrate more fully with other channels frequented by their subscribers, broadening the meaning of “omni-channel marketer.” Of course, there has been a lot of integration to date but watch for developments and possibilities where the focus is on a more robust effort to reach subscribers with email PLUS an additional channel or platform.


Interdepartmental collaboration

Interdepartmental brainstorming, imagination and experimentation could pay huge dividends. For instance, integration of conversion-oriented email funnels with field-based sales force actions or a pro-active product substitution campaign based on inventory-supply chain data. If brainstorming or acceptance of failure are not part of an organization’s makeup this could be challenging.


Artificial Intelligence

If your ESP offers some AI-based functionality, such as optimized time delivery based on subscriber behavior or dynamic subject line generation based on select personalized data, and you’re not using it you are at a disadvantage vs. your industry competitors who are. At the same time, monitor outside developments at other ESP’s as this is an area of intense investment and development. 2022 will prove to be an inflection point in AI’s use by email marketers.


Outside Your Control


ESP Consolidation

Monitor the performance of your ESP if it has merged or been purchased. Intuit bought Mailchimp. Campaign Monitor previously acquired Delivra, Emma, Liveclicker and Sailthru and just merged with Cheetah Digital. Constant Contact acquired SharpSpring. Litmus acquired Kickdynamic. And the list goes on.


While the M&A activity appears to be driven by large entities that have large amounts of data acquiring the email technology to better reach individuals or their customers’ subscribers, the benefits may (or may not) accrue to current ESP customers. It is certainly worth monitoring.


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

In Litmus’ 2021 State of Email they report that email marketers are aware of the changing world around them but are conflicted about whether to take a stance on these social issues. The question of brand purpose and the associated risk-reward consequences for “taking a stand” are at the heart of this social issue for email marketers.


Do you win or do you lose if you do or if you don’t take a stance?


Supply Chain Disruption

The consensus is that supply chain disruption will be with us well into 2022 and perhaps beyond.

Snap CEO Evan Spiegel said on the earnings call. "This impact [reduced advertising] was compounded by the ongoing macroeconomic effects of the global pandemic with our advertising partners facing a variety of supply chain interruptions and labor shortages," This, in turn, reduces their short-term appetite to generate additional customer demand through advertising at a time when their businesses are already supply-constrained." https://www.mheducation.com/highered/ideas/articles/supply-chain-disruptions-affect-digital-ad-spending

Monitor the impact reduced ad spend has on lead magnets, advertising referrals, etc. and the effect on list growth and subscriber engagement


Inflation

“Consumer price inflation will likely endure as long as companies struggle to keep up with consumers’ prodigious demand for goods and services. A resurgent job market — employers have added 5.8 million jobs this year — means that Americans can continue to splurge on everything from lawn furniture to new cars. And the supply chain bottlenecks show no sign of clearing.” [AP News, Nov. 11, 2021]

But the thing to monitor is “Will inflation, which is hitting food, gas, appliances and everyday staples suppress sales of services and products typically marketed via email?”


Covid

It appears to be with us in one form or another. We’re now better prepared but what about the unfolding unknown unknows? Stay tuned in.ming, whether we like it or not. The impact will be a huge volume of political advertising squeezing out brand messaging. Look for ways to stand out.


Mid Term Elections and Political Environment

It’s coming, whether we like it or not.The impact will be a huge volume of political advertising squeezing out brand messaging.Look for ways to stand out.


“Content geared toward inbound and organic marketing channels might have better chances of circumventing the political noise and higher cost of paid channels. The upside of all of this is that people with election cycle fatigue will probably be actively seeking out everything from puppy memes to New Yorker cartoons, to your extremely brilliant and expertly marketed content.” [https://www.clearvoice.com/blog/election-content-marketing-strategy/]

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