The savvy digital marketer knows that email marketing is one of the most - if not the most - important tools at a brand's disposal when fostering an ongoing stream of communication with its customers.
And, while there have been times where the medium has more than appropriately been chastised for crutching along outdated techniques, email capabilities and technologies have been quietly making some exciting advances, particularly in the last 6-12 months.
We've identified three trends advancing email to meet - and often exceed - customer expectations. Used in the right way, they could significantly impact engagement moving into the busiest time of year for many brands.
TREND 1: FIXED CONTENT
Fixed (a.k.a. "sticky") content has been a staple of web design for a while now. Most commonly, it's used to keep a site's header visible at all times, giving users a quick way to access the site's most important content.
Modern mobile email clients, specifically those native to iOS and Android, now allow developers to fix content to the top of emails, as well.
WHY IT MATTERS
Brands can now, quite literally, keep pertinent information, links and offers at a customer's fingertips while still empowering them to scroll and explore the rest of the email.
- CTAs for coupons to increase redemption.
- Local store locations for click-to-brick conversion.
- Navigation - typically your most clicked family of links.
TREND 2: DYNAMIC FEATURES
Dynamic components - those that are able to be changed based on specific segments or pieces of customer information, like geography - are not new the email. in fact, they've been at the heart of what's kept email relevant for the last 5 years.
But, what's new is how brands are leveraging "dynamic" to hyper-personalize messaging, imagery, infographics and more. Brands are going to the next level, custom-tailoring content based on an increasingly broad array of factors.
WHY IT MATTERS
With an increasing percentage of email engagement taking place on the most personal of computers - the phone - customers are coming to the table with higher expectations for relevance. Creative use of dynamic content not only meets those needs, but also potentially reduce their reliance on manual oversight through the introduction of data-driven content modules.
- Give customers a last chance to buy products from their wish list before they go out of stock by showing remaining inventory in real time.
- Go beyond "You May Also Like" by recommending articles and videos related to user interests, in addition to products.
- Make it special for users by "custom" curating mini-catalogs just for them through email.
TREND 3: KINETIC
B&Q raised more than eyebrows when they deployed an email in July of this year that featured a full-fledged carousel, smoothly transitioning between promotions on-tap (mobile) or rollover (desktop).
The technique, quickly deemed "kinetic" by Oracle, among others, signals a sea-change in email's potential by introducing the ability to include website and app-like functionality in an email.
WHY IT MATTERS
Basic animation, of course, is nothing new to email. But, the ability to allow the user to control and interact with elements of the email has captivated the industry at a time when user engagement is becoming a core indicator of success.
Don't forget to include proper fallbacks, as support is primarily limited to modern email clients like iOS, Android, Gmail and Apple Mail.
- Showcase multi-use products through interactive carousels (a la B&Q).
- Let users create and customize, mixing and matching products, colors or styles, to add an element of personalization and delight to the Inbox.
- Encourage exploration by letting users trigger animation through "hot spots" in seemingly-static photos.