September 24, 2020

How Marketers Can Use Email More Effectively in 2021

by Sam Beck

Email. The stuff that floods your inbox every day, the stuff that you can never seem to delete fast enough before more comes in. Rather than offering just another opinion piece, we wanted to share a few takeaways from Litmus’ comprehensive 2020 State of the Email Report. The study findings are gated and, ironically, require your email address to get access, but if you’re willing to get just one more email, we’re confident that it’ll be worth it. The report offered 5 key takeaways regarding the state of email this fall that are sure to roll into 2021. Some of what they say is new, some of it supports things that many of us marketers have been saying for a while.

1) Companies need to get personal.

~75% of marketers note that personalization increases engagement. One wild fact was that birthday emails generate 3.42 times more revenue than standard emails. This means more, however, than having an algorithm that inserts someone’s name into the email. It means looking at consumer behaviors, determining what they would most want from your company, and tweaking the body of the email to reflect that.

2) Measurement in the email world is lacking.

Less than 25% of marketers believed that their company measured email ROI well. 45% went as far as to say measurement is “poor, very poor, or non-existent.” Yikes. This section gets pretty in-depth, but it essentially says that resources need to be devoted exclusively to measurement. That means using a basic ROI formula, accurately assessing costs of the email marketing campaign, and biting the bullet by ditching old tracking methods (even if they work “alright” and are a pain to change).

3) The pandemic changed the way we email.

We won’t dive too deep into this one, because “duh.” This pandemic spurred a massive cultural shift where brands need to be empathic, and they need to pay attention to the needs of their customers beyond ROI (try to connect with them personally, and be genuinely invested in their wellbeing as humans).

4) Internal approval processes are getting convoluted.

As more businesses devote resources to email marketing, more people are getting involved and wanting to sign off on things. Currently, 60% of companies have 4 or more people involved in email review and approvals (in 2019 that was 52%). That’s likely a bit too much—this is a tough thing to get prescriptive with, as every review process is unique, but it’s worth noting that, more often than not, people overvalue having multiple sets of eyes reviewing things. In creative collaboration (which is a big part of messaging, which is a big part of email marketing), you can really get diminishing marginal returns by having multiple people tweaking messaging. Put simply: try to avoid the “too many cooks in the kitchen” dilemma. Hire folks you trust enough that you don’t need a whole team devoted to over-managing/reviewing their work.

5) Companies are sending more emails.

That one makes a lot of sense. In-person sales efforts are down, emails are pretty cheap to send, and marketers are looking for ways to shave budgets, it’s a form of communication that plays well in #WFH environments, etc. More email is fine, but it isn’t necessarily good. At Renegade, we’re about quality over quantity, as you may know. Say you get five bad emails from a company. You’re far more likely to say “Wow, this company sure is annoying” than “Let me ask them for more info.” Focus on quality first. One great, personalized email that provides real value and offers a natural route to how your product can help will always be better than some canned blast campaign.

Those were the main points; the report itself explains them in-depth and highlights a bunch of great stats that paint a more complete picture. If you have the time, it’s worth a look!

For even more tips, check out our post on email marketing lessons from eMarketer’s Email Marketing 2020 report. For email campaign design tips, we recommend Best Design’s 15 Best Email Campaign Examples By Type.  And if you’ve got any other questions about effective email marketing campaigns and strategies, just email us (or better yet, give us a call!).

FAQs about Email Marketing

Is email marketing still effective?
Without a doubt. And if it’s not working for you, it just means you need a different approach. Email marketing is especially important as a result of 2020’s digital transformation, but brands should take are to ensure emails are personal and helpful.

What are email marketing tools?
Email marketing tools are used to create, schedule, optimize, test, and report on marketer’s business campaigns. Different email marketing platforms offer different integrations and built-in features, but most should enable an end-to-end solution for marketers.

How can I email market for free?
Email marketing tools don’t have to be expensive. In fact, many email automation platforms offer free versions of their services that are robust enough to get the job done for any standard email marketing campaign.