Try This in 2023: Ultimate Email Marketing Trends List

Try This in 2023: Ultimate Email Marketing Trends List
18 January, 2023 • ... • 6 views
Diana Kussainova
by Diana Kussainova

Consider this list something like Pantone’s color of the year. These are email marketing trends and best practices that we believe set the tone for 2023.

From design to the latest artificial intelligence usage — you’ll find every cutting-edge tendency here. Read our guide and add these to your email marketing strategy.

Why should you keep up with the trends in email marketing?

Email marketing is constantly evolving. However, email trends are slower to take effect than, say, social media ones. Email marketing is more stable and longstanding so it rarely changes. But when it does change, the transformations are big and influential. There are smaller shifts, of course, and global design and marketing processes influence email marketing as well. That’s why reminding ourselves of what is truly relevant and putting it in today’s context is important to succeed. In this article, we’ll help you catch up with the latest trends.

In 2022, a little over 78% of marketers put email marketing in their top three most effective channels:

A chart of top-performing marketing channels
Source: Mailmondo

Besides, the email audience will only keep growing and it’s projected to reach 4.6 billion people in 2025. That means more businesses will try to take advantage of that. Going forward, email marketing will deliver more possibilities but also more challenges and tighter competition. Plus, the economic recession is taking a toll on people all around the world. Your audience may cut spending while other brands will keep fighting for attention with their newsletters. 27% of U.S. consumers are likely or very likely to purchase something because of a brand’s newsletter. In 2023, companies will fight to influence this and other groups of people.

To make the most of limited resources, it’s important to research innovative techniques and new uses of old strategies. As always, email marketers need to find ways to connect with their subscribers and stay relevant even in these ever-changing circumstances. Keeping up with the trends is a great way to achieve that.

Here is your ultimate trends list divided into two sections: overall tendencies and design. Let’s start on the broad level.

The latest email marketing trends that determine its future

Making segments even smaller

With the amount of available data, the groups of subscribers you target can be even more precise. Plus, the relevance of email marketing campaigns becomes crucial to winning subscribers’ attention. That’s why segmentation will stay top of mind for email marketers.

There’re three most important segmentation parameters:

  • Location. This parameter can determine the hemisphere and season, time of day, local currency, delivery times, and more for appropriate sending.
  • Purchase history. Based on the first, the most recent, and the last purchase, marketers can target their subscribers with relevant offers.
  • Zero party data — the information customers explicitly provide to a company. It can be the results of a quiz, survey, or anything else that help to categorize your audience into segments. For example, a food manufacturer can divide its audience into vegans, vegetarians, and meat-eaters to send each group different content.

Zero-party and first-party (the information a company collects directly from its customers) data is useful for more than segmentation alone. It is also the base for predictive analytics. Using various models and techniques, it determines which subscribers are most likely to take action and picks out the best possible product recommendations based on customer profiles.

Cameras and electronics retailer Adorama used past purchases to segment the audience and personalize the sales offer. The company divided its subscribers into 3 groups based on camera brand preference: Canon, Nikon, and Sony. There were 4 campaigns in total: 3 with different personalized banners that led to sales pages with branded items on top and a control one without brand banners and with a non-organized sales page. 

Emails with varying banners looked like this:

Adorama emails with personalized offer banners on top
Source: MarketingSherpa

The emails with varying banners proved to be by far more effective. Compared to a control email, they generated a 20% increase in engagement metrics and over 18% more revenue per mailing. And that’s just one campaign! 

The subscriber groups targeted, however, are becoming even smaller with popular approaches like micro-segmentation and hyper-segmentation. Both of these involve creating more granular segments. The difference is in the size of customer groups made: the segments are smaller in hyper-segmentation. 

This isn’t exactly a new tendency, though. One of the successful examples is BustedTees’ strategy. The company wanted to target international customers better. First, BustedTees segmented the audience based on location and then implemented personalized sending times for each subscriber. The result was impressive — the email revenue increased by 8% overnight and the CTR increased by 11%.

Personalizing emails even more

You’ve got your segments ready, so what’s next? Personalization! 

Email personalization makes the purchasing process easier for customers. Today it’s not only expected but demanded. 62% of people stated that they won’t be loyal to a brand that delivers a generic experience. And this trend will only continue. Research shows that the younger the person, the better they respond to personalized ads. Many personalized email examples are, indeed, very appealing.

In 2023, try email personalization techniques that go beyond adding [Subscriber’s name] to the subject line. One of the ways to do so is, of course, the dynamic email content and cart abandonment emails. A more elaborate strategy includes personalized onboarding flows that take into account subscribers’ acquisition. It means crafting different messages for those who subscribed after a brand-influencer collaboration or from a social media campaign, etc.

One important thing to note is privacy. Although people like to share their personal information for a better experience, it’s important to stay within reasonable borders. 80% of consumers are comfortable sharing purchase history but less than half of them approve of the usage of their important life events information. With compliance awareness and tracking exhaustion from consumers, it’s important to handle personal information with caution.

One of the companies that expertly use segmentation and personalization is Air New Zealand. It sends triggered emails with the statuses of customers’ dollars in the bonus program and also when the points are about to expire. It motivates subscribers to make a purchase. 

What’s more, the company sends different highly personalized emails after the booking, pre-flight, and post-flight. Here are sample emails that Samuel Hunt and other UX experts prepared for reimagining Air New Zealand’s post-booking email strategy:

Sample pre-flight Air New Zealand emails
Source: Samuel Hunt’s website

These messages are highly personalized from the subject lines to the content itself. Customers get relevant information about the weather, travel suggestions, products, and services that they may need. This strategy proved to be successful. As a result of personalized campaigns, click-through rates rose up to 38%, and reading time increased by 5%.

Using automation and artificial intelligence

Email automation will continue to grow in 2023. Even more marketers will adopt it to send triggered emails (like welcome series, abandoned carts, etc.) and transactional emails. 

Although automation in email marketing isn’t ground-breaking, this year it’s going to be standard practice for most businesses. In 2022 already, it was the most automated marketing channel worldwide. One of the ways to automate email marketing tasks is artificial intelligence.

Image and text-generating software are on the rise. New advancements in the sphere are made as we speak. At the same time, illustrators and designers call out the neural network’s ethics and protest Stable Diffusion, Midjourney, or DALL-E 2. Copywriters from different domains too feel the pressure of these tools. Surely, writing articles with ChatGPT isn’t what we recommend at this point, and AI won’t replace copywriters just yet. But although the role of AI is up for debate, many marketers believe the technology will change the field in 2023.

An example of image generation with different prompts using DALL-E 2
Source: DALL-E 2 (website)

Some suppose that artificial intelligence can empower smaller or low-budget teams to create more content or do it more efficiently. For example, AI could write email copy or create newsletter illustrations. Others prefer to think of this technology as more of a helper to human professionals or a source of inspiration for email marketers, copywriters, and designers. Whatever the case, be on the lookout for new neural network inventions.

What’s the current situation? Several non-creative activities are already in the hands of AI. Almost half of the surveyed marketers used the technology to target ads and personalize content and offers while 39% trusted it to optimize the sending time. Some of the other uses for AI are writing subject lines, building and cleaning email lists, predictive analytics, data parsing, and determining possible campaign improvements. 

“OK, marketers are using AI more and more, but what are the results?” you may ask. Let’s look at one of the AI-powered services — Phrasee. It’s capable of optimizing marketing language and subject lines to achieve higher engagement. Phrasee worked on Home Chef’s acquisition and reactivation campaigns:

Samples of AI-generated subject lines for Home Chef
Source: Phrasee

Over 9 months, the average click rate of these two types of emails rose by 29.4%. The open rate rose too — by over 20%. But the last metric might not be exactly what you need to pay attention to. 

Giving up on OR

Open rate (OR) was once a key metric to estimate email marketing performance. But since Apple introduced the Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) in 2021’s iOS update, it has become unreliable. According to recent data, over half of the email opens worldwide happen through MPP. That means that effectively half of OR information is useless. MPP also prevents marketers from obtaining open times, location, or devices of their subscribers. 

In 2023, this puts the emphasis on collecting and putting to use zero and first-party data. Here are some other ways email marketers were dealing with MPP:

A chart showing ways in which email marketers are changing their email marketing strategies to account for MPP
Source: Litmus

What KPIs are more reliable? Depending on what you want to examine, use engagement metrics (click-through rate and conversion rate) or unsubscribe rate. 

To encourage your subscribers to click on the contents of the email and also collect feedback, add sentiment polls or selectors to your emails. It was named one of the biggest email trends of the year by experts at Litmus Talks.

Here’s what this poll can look like:

An email poll from Medium
Source: Really Good Emails

Typical questions to put at the bottom of the email are: did you enjoy this email? How would you rate this email? Instead of numbers, the poll can also be reaction-based with variants like 👍👎 or 😄😐😕. 

An email poll from Thortful
Source: Milled

These motivate people to click on the otherwise not engaging and show you the number of engaged readers. But sentiment polls also indicate your audience’s opinion about the email content. You can change the marketing strategy based on the feedback you get. With our guide, it’s easy to implement surveys in your emails.

Adding interactive elements

Modern emails go beyond plain text and a few images. GIFs, image carousels, and videos make the user more engaged. But emails can become even more interactive thanks to Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). This technology turns emails into web pages with limited yet convenient functionality that provides opportunities to explore gamification in email marketing.

With AMP, your audience can book an appointment, see the stock change in real-time, live comment, or complete forms. AMP is especially useful for transactional emails with changing shipping statuses and order tracking. 

An AMP email example with a built-in email confirmation
Source: Ecwid
An AMP email from Penguin Random House
Source: Really Good Emails
An AMP email from Burberry
Source: Really Good Emails

Unlike GIFs in emails, for example, AMP is still a work in progress. Not all email service providers or email clients support the format. There are only 4 inbox providers capable of rendering AMP emails correctly: Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Mail.ru, and FairEmail. Who’s missing? Apple and Outlook, of course. People who use these clients will see a static email instead of an interactive one. 

Nevertheless, some experts believe AMP will change the role of email communication, its goals, and its capabilities. So keep an eye on this trend in the future.

Taking advantage of user-generated content

Reviews, testimonials, product photos, and videos can all be featured in emails. User-generated content (UGC) is a free and relatable promotion resource. Moreover, 84% of U.S. citizens would trust a brand more if it used UGC.

An email with UGC from Buoy
Source: Really Good Emails
An email with UGC from Fairfax & Favor
Source: Milled

Leveraging a multichannel approach

According to available data, the marketers that used 3 or more channels in their campaigns got almost 19% engagement rate while those stuck to one channel only had a little over 5%. The purchase rate for multichannel marketing efforts was higher too. In 2023, email marketing should be a part of a complex communication strategy. But it concerns much more than only effectiveness.

When the future of social media is uncertain, email provides an independent platform for messaging the audience directly. With emails, it’s you who “owns” the audience, not a social media platform. Last year, Twitter changed its policies and moderation, several U.S. states drafted legislation against TikTok, and Instagram continued to change the algorithm. Moreover, the reach on all major social media is falling. All and all, the situation demands brands to adapt.

Email marketing teams can also dip their toes into SMS for all-encompassing order flows, leverage chatbots, and more. Connecting different communication channels into one coherent system makes the customer experience seamless. Here’s an example of an omnichannel strategy:

  1. Capturing website visitors’ email addresses with pop-ups
  2. Sending a welcome email, an SMS with a newcomer discount, and a web push to make the customer make a purchase
  3. Reminding about abandoned products in the cart with an SMS and a web push and following that with an email after several hours
  4. Offering different channels for order and shipment notifications to benefit your clients
  5. Asking for a review via SMS and email

In this scheme email marketing adapts to the customer’s level of engagement with SMS and serves as a final incentive to close a sale. In 2023, all channels — email marketing included — need to work in tandem to guarantee success.

Being sincere with your subscribers

Sincerity or, more specifically, New Sincerity now dominates the U.S. and European culture. As a result, people demand authentic communication and genuine interactions. One of the ways it affects marketing in general is the rise of nano influencers who people trust and whose engagement rates are the highest

In email marketing, this led to the longing for human interactions and personal perspective. In 2022, Substack — a service for independent email newsletters — gained extra popularity. The latest data shows the platform has over a million paid subscribers. As recently as February 8th this year acclaimed journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner Seymour Hersh has switched traditional media for Substack.

How can email marketers leverage this trend? By communicating more personally and sincerely with their audiences. We do that at Selzy too. In our bi-weekly digest, blog editors and authors share what occupies their thoughts. 

A Selzy digest email

To highlight the authenticity of the email each digest has the name and photograph of its author at the bottom:

An author block in the Selzy digest email

A distinct and playful tone of voice that suggests someone real is behind the keyboard can also charm the subscribers. That is Thortful’s strategy:

An email by Thortful
Source: Milled

Other trends to keep in mind

We covered the most prominent email marketing tendencies for the upcoming year, but here is a handful of smaller ones:

  • BIMI authentication will be more widespread. 
  • One-person newsletters aka author content will be even more popular to read and create. Take a look at Substack where journalists, comics artists, writers, and other creators and influencers started to post their content. 
  • Security in emails will improve, and spam filters will advance and take into account time spent in an email, and more.
  • Algorithms for individual inboxes may appear, predict the experts of The Email Marketing Show podcast. This means that your emails may be sorted out differently in each individual inbox. For some, your messages will appear in the general folder, for others — on the promotions tab, etc. As a result, cultivating personal relationships with subscribers will become the first priority. 
  • Storytelling in email marketing will help to create stronger customer relationships and nurture brand advocates. 
  • Allowing subscribers to control their preferences will become more common. Going forward, users should be able to indicate how often and what types of content they want to receive. 
  • Augmented reality (AR) technology may come to emails. It can take the form of a try-on feature, for example.
  • Customer appreciation emails are going to be a part of regular sending. Thank-you messages show subscribers how valuable they are to the brand and make connections stronger.

Email design trends for 2023 campaigns

Besides the email content itself, design is integral to email marketing success. So let’s examine what you should use in your email in 2023:

Mobile-first design

More and more people access the internet from their smartphones or tablets. Recent statistics show that 71% of people use their smartphones for emailing. It means that emails need to be optimized for smaller screens with responsive design. 

Here’s what one email looks like in desktop and mobile versions:

Mobile and desktop email versions from HappySocks
Source: MailCharts

Dark mode

34% of the email opens in 2022 were made using dark mode. But only about 5% of emails were adapted for the switching of colors. Although it isn’t necessary for everyone, consider optimizing your emails for the dark mode if your audience consists of software engineers or designers. 

This email from Mobbin is properly adapted to be viewed in the dark mode: 

An email from Mobbin in the light and dark mode

Just plain text

Yes, you read it right — simple emails without any images or design enhancements become more popular.

A plain text email from Maple Motorcycle Jeans
Source: Really Good Emails

Emails like this one make communication feel more authentic and genuine. Combined with an informal, friendly tone, plain text emails imitate one-on-one conversations to nurture loyalty. They also take subscribers by surprise which can result in higher conversions.

Surprisingly, this tactic can also overthrow the promotional tab in Gmail. The software company FROGED increased the OR by 30% and the CTR by 20-25% only using plain text messages.

Minimalism…as always

If you aren’t ready to abandon visuals completely, there’s another way. One thing that’s been trending for years now is minimalist email design. In 2023, however, you can spice it up with these options:

  • Products alone (and even floating). Large product images are the focus of many marketing emails.
  • Gradients. A ready-to-use idea to explore.
  • Bright colors. Think nostalgia, Y2K, and optimism.
  • Table borders. To give emails an instant clean and structured look.
  • Rounded shapes and shadows. Images with rounded corners and creatively designed drop shadows look playful and fresh.   

Enjoy these diverse minimalistic design examples below:

An email from OpenTable
Source: Really Good Emails
An email from Cocojune
Source: Really Good Emails
An email from Backdrop
Source: Really Good Emails

Accessibility

Email marketers need to adapt their messages to be perceived by as many people as possible. Customers came to expect inclusivity in emails, now it’s time to make your marketing messages accessible. Dyslexia, visual impairments, and color blindness are more common than you think. Chances are, your audience will benefit from emails made with accessibility in mind.

Here’s what you can do to make your emails more accessible:

  • Assign alt text to all images. We do that in Selzy’s blog too to assist those who use screen readers.
  • Make the text and CTAs larger.
  • Align the text to the left and not the center. This way it’s easier to read.
  • Pick contrasting colors but not red and green as they are harder to perceive.
  • Use clear formatting and structure hierarchy. This way the content of your email will be easy to parse and understand. 
  • Make links bold but don’t underline them. This way you’ll comfort both dyslexic and color-blind people.

In practice, this also includes ditching image-based emails.

Accent on typography

Text outside dedicated frames, overlapped lettering, and more expressive typefaces are at the forefront of email campaign design in 2023. A variant of that tendency also includes bigger headlines.

Check out two inspirational examples of creative typography from Baboon To The Moon:

A GIF with overlapping lettering from an email from Baboon To The Moon
Source: Milled
An email with bold typography from Baboon To The Moon
Source: Milled

This approach to typography makes the email look modern and daring. However, creative typeface mixing is also a great choice. Take a look at this email campaign, for example:

An email from Misc. Goods Co.
Source: Really Good Emails

How to implement current email marketing trends into your strategy

Feel inspired after reading this article but don’t know how to make these trends work for you? First of all, try small: pick one option and dedicate time to study and try it out.

Second, use A/B testing. This way you can see how effective your efforts truly are. Compare regular and personalized emails, for example, to understand the power of personalization. Or send an interactive email campaign to one subscriber group and a regular one to another to justify the resources needed to make GIFs or videos next time. Just remember to test one thing at a time.

One last thing — choose a trustworthy tool for your experiments. With Selzy, you can segment your audience, personalize the content, and make modern-looking designs in an intuitive email template builder. And then — test it! Start this year off right with 15,000 free emails to 1,000 subscribers. Register now and choose a price plan later. Or just stick to the free option, it’s forever 😉

Conclusion

Want to see all the trends in one place? We gathered every 2023 trend below for your convenience:

  • Segmentation
  • Personalization
  • Artificial intelligence 
  • Giving up on OR
  • Automation
  • Interactivity and AMP
  • UGC
  • Omnichannel approach

Design trends:

  • Responsive design
  • Dark mode
  • Plain text emails
  • Accessibility
  • Typography
  • Minimalism with a twist
18 January, 2023
Article by
Diana Kussainova
Writer, editor, and a nomad. Creating structured, approachable texts and helping others make their copies clearer. Learning and growing along the way. Interested in digital communications, UX writing, design. Can be spotted either in a bookshop, a local coffee place, or at Sephora. Otherwise probably traveling. Or moving yet again.
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