Email marketing trends to watch in 2018

Email marketing is often underrated as a marketing tactic. When used well and with the right strategy, communicating directly with your leads, customers and lapsed customers, it is usually the most cost-effective marketing tool at your disposal. Before we get into the trends for this year, lets first look into what email marketing actually is.

Image by Jennifer Pearce


What is email marketing?

If you’ve ever bought something online, signed up to an e-newsletter or provided your email address for downloadable content; you’ve probably received email marketing. When it’s expected, relevant and valuable information, it’s great. But usually that’s not the case. Usually you’ve purchased something online and over a year later they’re still emailing you five times a week asking you to come back.

But not all email marketing is spam.

We’ve all heard it before: It’s more expensive to acquire new customers than it is to get existing customers to repurchase. But that’s no excuse for spamming your customers. Marketers need to strike a fine balance between staying top of mind (and relevant) without overwhelming them.

If done right, email marketing can reap huge rewards across customer value, engagement and loyalty. Despite the emergence of numerous new digital marketing channels, email marketing remains the most cost-effective. The channel is particularly successful in developing relationships with potential customers while keeping current and historical customers up to date.


Why email marketing?

  1. Email has the largest reach of any digital or other marketing channel. Compared to social media channels that come in and out of popularity every few years, email marketing has had steady growth ever since it first started.
  2. With numerous Facebook and Instagram algorithms changes, email is an open platform and is the only consistent channel to get your message straight to the user every time.
  3. It’s super cheap! Not only is email marketing delivery markedly cheaper than television commercials and billboards, it’s significantly more engaging and impactful. In addition, your email subscribers have given express consent – they’ve signed up, and they actually want to hear from you. This all leads to email marketing driving more conversions and having a higher ROI than any other channel [1].

For me, the most underrated digital marketing tactic is email. Email has long been shunned as a “has been,” often taking the back seat to newer, sexier tactics like social media. That said, from a pure cost-effectiveness standpoint, it’s hard to beat email. It’s relatively cheap, consumers opt-in, so they are very receptive to the marketing message, and it’s fairly easy to measure success.

Bob Arnold (Associate Director of Global Digital Strategy, Kellogg)

Out with the old and in with the new

You know the old marketing funnel: awareness, engagement, discovery, purchase and retention? Well that’s been shoved out the window with introduction of this new little thing called the Internet and digital marketing.

The customer experience is ever changing, and there’s no one journey that fits every single customer. Customers can enter the funnel at any stage, and they can even skip stages. Email marketing is the only channel that can accurately target customers based on what stage of the journey they are in, both pre or post purchase. This is why email marketing is vital to most businesses, and keeping up with the trends is paramount.

Email Trends to watch in 2018


Increased engagement and interactivity

If an email doesn’t catch your attention in the first second it may be deleted before being even read. A major trend for 2018 will be that emails will be designed and made to feel more like a mini-website.

Scrolling carousels of products, menu buttons and add-to-cart buttons are just some of the ways this growing trend has developed. While it’s been adopted by major global brands, this year we expect to see this trend trickle down into small and medium businesses. It’s also a competent way to gather data about the customer leading to better segmenting and targeting in the long run.


Increased segmentation and targeting

While segmenting between age and location is a good start (and perfectly reasonable for age specific targeting), most companies would be best suited to refine their segmenting and targeting. Segmenting users by other demographics like interests, habits, online behavior and lifetime value will achieve substantial benefits for both the company and the users.


Increased automation and ‘trigger marketing’

Automation has been around for a while, but 2018 is set to see a large rise in automation and trigger marketing. Producing more relevant emails, which specifically target users in different stages of the marketing funnel, is vital.

The increased integration between channels and platforms means the ability to successfully leverage automation and trigger marketing has become much more relevant than any old mass market ‘ON SALE BUY NOW’ campaign could ever hope to be.


Increased personalisation

If I receive an email without my name in either the email’s subject line or its greeting line, you can be sure that message is going straight into the ‘Junk’ folder. In 95% of cases when subscribing or signing up to an email list, you’re asked to give your name. So it is no excuse if it’s not used across communications.

In 2018, we’re looking at more personalisation than ever before. Pretty much any information that we have stored about a consumer can and should be used when emailing them. For example, showcasing previous products they’ve looked at on the website, birthday messages, recommendations on products they’ve bought – the possibilities are endless.


Increased regulation

This year we’ll also see an increase in regulation when it comes to all forms of online marketing. Canada and the USA already have anti-spam legislations and the EU has the General Data Protection Regulation, which will be enforced from May 2018. This ensures that all customers have the right to have their data erased or removed and that they have access to exactly how their data is being used and shared. As long as you’re transparent with your customers and respect their wishes, then increased regulation shouldn’t affect your campaigns.


Increased mobile accessibility

It’s estimated that 55% of all emails are opened on mobile devices – with this figure only set to go increase. In 2018, we’ll see an increase in designing emails specifically for mobile devices. Subject lines and pre-headers are now more important than ever as your email is just one swipe away from being deleted.

Ensuring your emails are quick to open on mobile is also important. Images need to be both optimised and compressed. In-line with the engagement and interactivity within the email, this will also translate through to mobile. Consumers shouldn’t have to click out of the email client into a different app to view something on the mobile website.


Following the rules and regulations, while being more scientific using customers past behaviour to determine who gets what content on what device will see your email channel performance improve greatly in 2018. It is starting to get old hearing “right message to the right person at the right time”, but it is now easier than ever to implement persona and trigger based dynamic emails through Marketing Automation platforms like Marketo. Even Campaign monitor is coming to the party by adding low level marketing automation tools to allow you to tailor your messages based on behaviour.

No more excuses, now’s the time to communicate with your leads and customers in a way that they now expect: one to one.

If you need help with any of the above, we’d be happy to chat.

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