Each year we find ourselves questioning whether this is the year that email will die. But fortunately for all email marketers out there, email isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon. But it is this very thing—email’s defiance to be ruled obsolete — that makes it so challenging.
To remain relevant email is forever evolving; forcing marketers to constantly adapt to new challenges in their ongoing quest for stronger engagement and conversions. So let’s take a look at some of the new trends and functionalities that will impact the email marketing space in 2022 and beyond.
The use of email metrics is expected to evolve further in 2022, with senders adapting to new measurements of success. While email open rates have traditionally been used as key performance indicators, increased consumer privacy and a decrease in tracking functionality (namely Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection), mean open rates are now less reliable.
Instead, senders are set to become more intentional in their use and measurement of clicks and conversions, putting greater emphasis on metrics including quality of traffic to the web, quality of leads, brand awareness and return on activity (ROA).
Apple Mail Privacy Protection – The Aftermath
Following the introduction of Apple Mail Privacy Protection (MPP), nearly all senders saw inflation of open rates as tracking pixels were automatically downloaded. However, in 2022 email marketers are set to be impacted in other ways.
Validity’s email analytics data revealed a range of unexpected side effects that have already been triggered—one of these being an increase in global spam complaint rates, suggesting a below-average subscriber experience for Apple Mail users. Deliverability to Apple Mail users will also become more challenging due to a decline in true engagement.
To assist with the MPP aftermath, it’s likely email senders will become more explicit with targeting in 2022 by using personal data that subscribers or customers have actually provided – known as ‘zero party data’, rather than inferring this from their online behaviour. Increased use of zero party data will allow senders to organically grow engagement by using the provided data to create relevant content.
When requesting personal information from customers, senders will need to be transparent and credible with their reasoning for this to be seen as a valuable option. Preference centres should also be easily accessible so customers can keep data up to date.
The Importance of Personalisation
B2C brands have always led the way with sophisticated personalisation strategies, and as we enter 2022, B2B brands are starting to follow suit. A greater level of personalisation will require an increase in harnessing zero-party data and less reliance on “lookalike” audiences. We’ll see a greater focus on content designed for optimal engagement and email marketers taking more care when it comes to listing hygiene and deliverability.
Perhaps counterintuitively, in 2022 it’s also expected we’ll see an increase in plain text emails as B2B brands attempt to develop genuine connections with subscribers. The use of simple, plain text allows the subscriber to focus on an email’s key message, without distraction from flashy or complex designs. A decrease in the reliability of open rates will also mean senders may be more eager to encourage subscribers to click straight through to their websites.
Even without laws, senders should be embracing this principle as a matter of best practice, but new laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) will introduce a greater level of email accessibility in 2022. People with certain disabilities may find it difficult to read specific emails or browse the web – so to increase accessibility, email senders will use larger fonts and more white space.
Designing live text that voice assistants can read will also be a key element of accessibility. Other components include colour contrast, dark mode and wellbeing features that can invert colours. While accessibility is an important step in the right direction, this will pose additional challenges for senders as they strive to keep branding consistent.
Privacy and Consent
Going forward, strong consent will continue to become more important with senders taking note of lessons learnt from privacy laws like GDPR in Europe. The law’s stricter standards have also created greater transparency and more choice for subscribers, ultimately resulting in more engagement.
Senders should bear this lesson in mind – by giving your subscribers more choice in what they receive, and how often they receive it, they’re more likely to be responsive, naturally driving up engagement.
An unwelcome tactic we’re set to see continue to develop in 2022 is email bombing. This occurs when personal data is accessed by fraudsters and used to subscribe to hundreds of email databases. This ploy aims to create a smokescreen that hides important email alerts, notifying the customer that their details have been stolen. Email bombing will increase email complaint rates—a negative consequence for legitimate senders.
The voice of the customer is expected to become an important tool for email marketing in 2022 also. As consumers are becoming more cynical, social proof is developing as a key tool to influence buyer behaviour.
As the customer doesn’t benefit from providing positive feedback, their voice is seen as a credible source. To maximise this as a marketing tool, senders will include real-time feeds of product reviews and testimonials.
It’s clear that consumers are becoming increasingly cautious when it comes to data – in terms of who they share their personal information with and how it is used. Data is also now a mainstream topic, with email and text scams regularly spotlighted in the news.
As a result, providers will need to adapt and update how they communicate with customers to ensure they feel secure regarding their data. Providers should also look to use a consistent tone of voice to create familiarity and reassurance. While this should already be a best practice, the importance of clear communication is set to increase.
Brand Recognition With BIMI
While Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI) isn’t new, the adoption of BIMI by Gmail means this feature will play a more significant role in 2022. The need to stand out in the inbox is greater than ever, so most email senders will likely come to adopt BIMI to drive sender recognition and brand recall.
It’s evident that innovation and change in the email aren’t set to halt anytime soon. Luckily, with the knowledge of what is to come, email marketers can feel well prepared to tackle the year ahead.