9 Insights Into the Future of Email Marketing

9 Insights Into the Future of Email Marketing
11 August, 2023 • ... • 1358 views
Ana Balashova
by Ana Balashova

Email marketing is not just surviving, it’s thriving in the digital age. With personalization, automation, and data-driven strategies, email marketing presents a wealth of opportunities for businesses to engage their audience and boost revenue. 

But what does the future of email marketing look like?

Imagine a world where your email marketing strategy is so personalized that each customer feels like they’re having a one-on-one conversation with your brand. A world where automation doesn’t mean impersonal, but rather, perfectly timed and contextually relevant. This is not a distant reality, but the emerging face of email marketing. Welcome to the journey of exploring its future.

Overview of email marketing in today’s digital landscape

Email marketing is a powerful tool, and it’s only growing in importance. As of 2020, the number of global email users amounted to four billion and is set to grow to 4.6 billion users in 2025, according to Statista. More than half of the world’s population is reachable via email, making it a vital channel for businesses to connect with their customers.

Last year, over 231 million emails were sent worldwide within one minute. The United States sends the most emails daily, with almost ten billion sent every day. These staggering numbers highlight the significance of email as a communication and marketing tool.

When compared to other marketing channels, email marketing holds a unique position. It offers a direct line of communication to the customer, making it an effective platform for personalized and targeted advertising.

Email marketing revenue predictions in billions: 8.49 for 2021, 9.62 for 2022, 10.89 for 2023, 12.33 for 2024, 13.69 for 2025, 15.81 for 2026.
Source: Statista

Reasons why email marketing is still relevant

Email marketing continues to be a highly effective tool for businesses, and here’s why:

  • Consumer preference: According to research from the Data & Marketing Association (DMA), a growing number of consumers find email brand messages useful. The medium is ranked first for information about new products and services and discounts offers and sales.
  • Solid engagement: Email marketing continues to engage audiences effectively. The average open rate for all industries is 29.7% in 2022.
  • High return on investment: Email marketing has shown to be an effective tool, with an average return of $36 for every dollar spent.
  • Customer persuasion: Email marketing isn’t just about sending messages; it’s about driving action. The 2022 Digital Consumer Trends Index by Cheetah Digital reveals that email marketing has a significant impact on consumer behavior. Half of consumers purchased from an email they received in the last 12 months, a 9% uplift on the previous year. 
  • Future investment: Even though marketers needed to cut martech spending this year, the future of email marketing looks promising. 41% of respondents planned to increase their investments specifically in email marketing in 2023. 

On top of it, plan numbers on the global email marketing market reflects its importance. In 2020, the market was valued at $7.5 billion, projected to increase to $17.9 billion by 2027. These figures prove that email marketing is not going anywhere.

Predictions and trends shaping the future of email marketing

From the rise of AI and email marketing automation to the growing importance of hyper-personalization and omnichannel marketing, many trends are shaping the future of email marketing. 

In this section, we’ll explore these key trends and predictions, offering insights into what the future holds for email marketers.

Artificial intelligence (AI)

AI already makes marketers’ work more efficient. The use of generative AI for marketing has already enhanced efficiency for 91% of Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs). This efficiency translates into more time for strategic planning and less time spent on repetitive tasks. 

Looking ahead to 2025, we can expect AI to be instrumental in the following areas:

Content creation: According to Gartner, by 2025, 30% of outbound marketing messages from large organizations will be synthetically generated, up from less than 2% in 2022. This means that AI such as ChatGPT will create a significant portion of marketing content, including emails.

Strategic planning: By automating routine tasks, AI can free up time for email marketing specialists to focus on more strategic activities. Plus, AI’s analysis of large volumes of data can provide insights into more effective email marketing strategies.

Email personalization: AI tools will be even more useful for the personalization of email messages, subject lines, and offers. This will enhance the relevance and effectiveness of email marketing campaigns.

So, in the future, we can expect AI to become an integral part of email marketing strategies, offering a competitive edge to those who embrace it. Learn more about AI in email marketing and how ChatGPT can be used for email marketing.

ChatGPT provided 10 subject line options for an email about a 50% sale on a summer clothing collection

Increased automation

Automation is a key trend shaping the future of email marketing. The global marketing automation software market size was valued at $4.93 billion in 2022. And it is projected to reach $11.25 billion by 2031, according to a report by Straits Research. This growth is driven by the increasing need to automate repetitive marketing tasks, such as sending emails, to improve business efficiency and results.

In fact, the adoption of automation in email marketing is happening faster than in other fields. In 2022, 55% of US marketing professionals confirmed that their email strategy used automation, according to a report by Ascend2. This shows that automation is not only a future trend but a current priority for many marketers.

And if you want more proof, a case study by Zapier demonstrates the power of email automation. A small business was able to increase its conversion rate from 2.45% to 4.55% by implementing email automation. This demonstrates how automation can lead to significant improvements in business metrics.

Looking ahead, we can expect to see even more automation in email marketing. Here are some key areas where automation will continue to evolve:

  • Predictive analytics: Predictive analytics is becoming a game-changer in email marketing automation. By leveraging machine learning algorithms, marketers can analyze subscriber data, predict future behaviors, and create tailored campaigns to target the right audience.
  • Advanced segmentation: Tools are becoming more sophisticated, enabling marketers to group subscribers based on various criteria, such as demographics, purchase history, and engagement levels. This ensures that each email is relevant and engaging.
  • Sophisticated automation workflows: Catering to each stage of the customer journey – from onboarding to retention. These workflows can include welcome series, cart abandonment reminders, win-back campaigns, and loyalty programs. Thanks to automation, businesses can stay connected with their customers at every touchpoint.

Goodreads sends an automatic newsletter with recommendations based on the subscriber’s preferred book genres. Below is an email with YA (Young Adult) book picks:

A Goodreads email with YA book recommendations
Source: Deal Town

Hyper-personalization

Today’s consumers crave personalized experiences that cater to their unique needs and preferences. According to McKinsey, 71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions, and 76% get frustrated when this doesn’t happen.

Moreover, personalization not only improves the customer experience; it’s also a powerful driver of business performance. Companies that excel at personalization generate 40% more revenue from those activities than average players. This shows that personalization is a must-have strategy for businesses that want to stay competitive and grow faster.

Here’s a personalized email example with the subscriber’s name, recent purchase, and product recommendations:

Personalized post-birthday Sephora email campaign

A great example of hyper-personalization in action is Petco’s email program. In 2021 and 2022, Petco built out hyper-personalized email marketing content — monthly “health reports” for pet parents. This initiative was a huge success. In the first two years, email opens rose 30%, and click rates jumped 50%.

Looking ahead, hyper-personalization is set to become even more critical in email marketing. According to an Oracle report, hyper-personalization is considered a competitive differentiator for 2023. While not all companies have fully embraced it, those that have are seeing significant results.

Here are some ways hyper-personalization might evolve in the future:

  • Dynamic content: Emails will feature dynamic content that changes based on the recipient’s behavior, preferences, and real-time conditions. This could include weather-based product recommendations or personalized discounts based on browsing history.
  • AI-driven personalization: AI will play a significant role in hyper-personalization, analyzing vast amounts of data to deliver highly personalized emails. This could range from product recommendations to personalized subject lines.
  • Interactive elements: Emails will become more interactive, with elements like quizzes or surveys that offer personalized results or recommendations.
  • Advanced segmentation: Businesses will use advanced segmentation strategies to send highly targeted emails. This could involve subscriber segmentation based on their behavior, preferences, or stage in the customer journey.

Omnichannel marketing

Omnichannel (hybrid) marketing is a strategy that integrates and coordinates customer interactions across multiple channels. This approach aims to provide a seamless and consistent customer experience, meeting customers where they are and catering to their unique needs and preferences.

It is especially important for B2B. According to McKinsey, hybrid selling, a key component of omnichannel marketing, is expected to be the most dominant sales strategy by 2024 due to shifts in customer preferences and remote-first engagement. Hybrid sales drive up to 50% more revenue by enabling broader, deeper customer engagement than more traditional models.

B2B decision makers used 5 channels to interact with clients in 2016, 7.5 channels in 2019, and 10 channels in 2021
Source: McKinsey

In the context of email marketing, omnichannel strategies can be particularly effective. For instance, a customer might interact with a brand through social media, visit the brand’s website, and then receive a personalized email based on their browsing behavior. This interconnected approach can lead to a more personalized and seamless shopping experience, increasing customer loyalty and boosting sales.

Looking ahead, here are some key trends and predictions for omnichannel email marketing:

  • Integration with Customer Data Platforms (CDPs): As highlighted in Oracle’s email marketing trends for 2023, the rise of CDPs makes user experiences with marketing more cohesive. Brands are increasingly focused on unifying and consolidating disparate systems to create a central hub for customer insights and targeting.
  • Increased touchpoints: The average consumer uses several touchpoints when buying an item (website, email newsletter, social media, advertisements, etc.). This trend is expected to continue, with email marketing playing a crucial role in this multi-touchpoint journey.
  • Interactive emails: As part of an omnichannel strategy, we can expect to see more interactive elements in emails. These could include shopping features and other miniature web experiences that provide a more engaging and seamless experience for subscribers.
  • Specific content management: With the rise of omnichannel marketing, content management becomes more complex but also more crucial. Brands will need to ensure that their messaging is consistent across all channels, including emails, to provide a unified customer experience.

This means that businesses that want to stay ahead of the curve need to start building an omnichannel marketing strategy now. By doing so, they can meet their customers where they are and provide a more personalized and seamless shopping experience. This, in turn, can lead to increased customer loyalty and higher sales.

Privacy and security

In the age of data breaches and privacy scandals, consumers are becoming more concerned about their data privacy. According to research by Magna, 74% of consumers highly value their data privacy. This concern extends to email marketing — subscribers expect their personal information to be handled with care.

Businesses that fail to comply with data privacy laws face steep penalties. GDPR violations can lead to fines of up to $22 million or 4% of the company’s annual revenue, whichever is greater. Similarly, violations of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) can result in $2,500-$7,500 fines per violation.

Looking ahead, privacy and security in email marketing are set to become even more critical. Here are some expected developments:

  • New privacy laws: The U.S. is about to introduce a new national privacy law, the American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA). This law, modeled largely after the GDPR, will have significant implications for businesses, as highlighted by MarTech. For example, to comply with this law, marketers may need to use dedicated Consent Management Platforms to delete users’ personal data on request.  
  • Increased focus on consent: Email marketing specialists will need to stay on top of privacy laws and know how to do compliant email marketing. You may need to store users’ data in one place and use software to delete personal data if necessary.
  • Trust as a differentiator: By committing to data privacy, businesses can build stronger relationships with their customers and differentiate themselves from competitors.

Given these trends, it’s clear that businesses need to prioritize data privacy and security. Not only is this important for compliance, but it’s also crucial for building trust with customers. After all, consumers are more likely to do business with companies that respect their privacy and protect their data.

Dark mode

The dark mode is more than a trend; it’s a future direction for email marketing. As of August 2022, about 34% of email opens were in dark mode, a 6% increase from the previous year.

Example of dark/light mode newsletter

The dark mode offers several benefits for user experience. It’s ideal for low-light settings, emits less “blue light” which can disrupt sleep, uses less energy-extending battery life, and can potentially reduce eye strain and dry eyes in low-light conditions. As such, considering the dark mode in your email marketing strategy is a wise move to stay relevant and cater to your audience’s needs.

In dark mode, emails can render in three different ways: no change, inverted color mode, and custom dark mode. 

The no-change mode doesn’t affect the email layout, but it can be harsh on the recipient’s eyes when viewed in a dark interface. 

The inverted color mode changes the hues, saturation, and brightness of the colors used in the email, which can affect the readability. 

The custom dark mode, available in advanced Apple Mail on macOS and iOS, allows for custom codes for light and dark modes through CSS.

While dark mode offers a sophisticated look and feel, it can also lead to a poor reader experience. Image-only emails are usually not dark mode friendly as they have a certain background color that doesn’t change in dark mode. This can result in a stark contrast between the email and the dark interface, potentially disrupting the reader’s experience.

However, the future of dark mode in email marketing is promising. Here are some predictions:

  • Increased adoption: As more users prefer dark mode, many brands will start incorporating it into their email designs. This will help them stay relevant and cater to their audience’s needs.
  • Improved dark mode compatibility: Email marketers will continue to refine their strategies to ensure their emails render correctly in dark mode. This could involve adjusting the use of images and background colors in emails.
  • Greater focus on accessibility: As dark mode becomes more popular, there will be a greater emphasis on making emails accessible in both light and dark modes. This could involve using transparent images or adding a white outline around images and logos.
  • Innovation in dark mode designs: As more brands start using dark mode, we can expect to see more innovative and creative dark mode email designs. For example, using different color schemes or typography to create visually appealing emails that stand out in dark mode.
  • Importance of testing: With the rise of dark mode, testing emails before sending will become even more crucial. This will help ensure that emails render correctly in both light and dark modes, providing a seamless experience for all subscribers.

Remember, as email marketers, it’s essential to adapt to the changing preferences of our audience. By embracing dark mode, you can stay ahead of the curve and provide a better experience for your subscribers. So, are your newsletters ready for the dark mode revolution?

User-generated content

User-generated content (UGC) is a powerful tool in the marketing toolkit, significantly influencing purchase decisions. Consumers are 3 times more likely to find the content authentic if it was created by another consumer. And authenticity matters when people choose what brands to support. This means incorporating UGC in your emails can boost your click-through rates and conversions.

Example of a newsletter using UGC to drive engagement
Source: Email Love

Here are some future trends and predictions for UGC in email marketing:

  • Personalized shopping experiences: Consumers seek personalized shopping experiences more and more. With UGC, brands can provide these experiences by showcasing content from similar consumers. This not only enhances the shopping experience but also boosts trust and engagement.
  • Real connections through UGC: Consumers want to engage and share content with brands they love. Guided UGC can play a major role in building relationships with your biggest fans, leading to more meaningful connections and increased brand loyalty.
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI): Consumers expect brands to stand up for social justice and showcase diversity in their content. Brands that effectively embrace DEI in their UGC can create real loyalty and relationships with their fans.
  • Visual content: Visual UGC, such as customer images and videos, is more trusted than stock photos and branded content. Brands are planning to experiment with new content and ad formats, such as video, to leverage the power of visual UGC.
  • Rise of UGC creators: The lines between authentic UGC and influencer marketing are blurring. As people become savvier, they will increasingly demand compensation for their content, leading to the rise of UGC creators.
  • Employees as influencers: More employees will become the “faces” of brands, creating a unique form of UGC known as Employee-Generated Content (EGC). This will raise new questions about copyright laws, content ownership, and compensation.
  • Social commerce: UGC will become more essential in marketing as social commerce goes mainstream. Brands will optimize sales on social media channels and increase communication via SMS and email.

Incorporating UGC into your email marketing strategy can help you stay relevant, boost engagement, and ultimately drive conversions. Remember, the future of email marketing lies in creating authentic, meaningful connections with your audience, and UGC is a powerful way to achieve this.

Mobile-friendly emails

The ubiquity of smartphones has reshaped how consumers interact with emails. A Pew Research Center survey conducted in July 2022 revealed that around 91% of Americans ages 18 to 49 buy things online using a smartphone. Moreover, the global number of smartphone users is forecasted to increase between 2023 and 2028 by 910.3 million users, reaching an estimated 6,2 billion users in 2028. Emails need to be optimized for mobile to ensure seamless and engaging user experience.

A desktop and a mobile version of the same email from Magic Spoon
Source: MailCharts

Based on the current trends and future predictions, here’s how the future of mobile-friendly emails might look:

  • Mobile-first design: As more people use their mobile devices to check emails, the design of emails will shift towards mobile-first. This means creating emails that look good and function well on small screens first, before scaling up to larger screens. This includes using a responsive design that automatically adjusts to the size of the device and keeping the content of the email simple and easy to consume. With Selzy, your emails will be future-proof, as all the templates in our email builder are already optimized for mobile.
  • Interactive elements: With the rise of mobile usage, emails will become more interactive. This could include features such as carousels, sliders, and other interactive elements that work well on mobile devices. These interactive elements make emails more engaging and can increase click-through rates.
  • Optimized load times: As mobile users often have slower internet connections, optimizing email load times will become more important. This could involve compressing images and using simpler designs to ensure that emails load quickly on mobile devices.
  • Dark mode compatibility: With the increasing popularity of dark mode on mobile devices, ensuring that emails look good in both light and dark modes will become more important. For example, using transparent images and ensuring that text is readable in both modes.
  • Voice assistant compatibility: Email marketers may need to adapt to the popularity of voice assistants on mobile devices. One of the possibilities is using structured data in emails to make them easily readable by voice assistants.
  • Improved accessibility: As more people use mobile devices, improving the accessibility of emails will become more important. Some of the strategies are using larger fonts and high-contrast colors for better visibility and ensuring that emails are navigable for screen readers.

Remember, these are predictions and the actual future of mobile-friendly emails may look different. However, keep these trends in mind so you can ensure that your email marketing strategy is prepared for the future.

Shifting metrics

As the email marketing landscape evolves, so do the metrics we use to measure success. Traditionally, metrics such as open rates and click-through rates were used to measure success. However, with the introduction of privacy features like Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection, open rates have become less reliable. At the same time, with the rise of email automation, inboxes have become more crowded, leading to a decline in email conversion rates. That’s why marketers need to closely watch many metrics to determine the performance of their campaigns. To achieve this, choose the best email marketing service that offers comprehensive analytics.

Here are some future predictions for shifting metrics in email marketing:

  • Tracking the right metrics: Open rates are becoming less reliable due to privacy tools and changes in email apps. Instead, marketers will need to focus on other metrics such as the subscribe/unsubscribe ratio, specific preferences, and website content interactions. Direct feedback from subscribers will become an increasingly important metric.
  • Privacy-compliant tracking: As privacy becomes a significant concern, the way we track email engagement will shift. With changes like Apple Mail Privacy Protection, marketers need to find new ways to understand their audience without infringing on their privacy. This could mean focusing more on specific offers and popular content rather than generic tracking methods.
  • Interactive content tracking: Interactive emails are set to become a major trend. These emails allow customers to take action (seeing live stock levels, adding items to a cart, or even completing a checkout) right from the email, reducing friction and increasing engagement. Tracking these actions inside emails will become more popular.

As customer behaviors and preferences shift, how we measure success must change too. Marketers need to embrace new metrics and continually reassess the effectiveness of existing ones. It’s not just about open rates and click-through rates anymore. It’s about understanding how your email marketing efforts are contributing to broader business goals and customer satisfaction. An adaptable email marketing checklist can help keep focus on key metrics.

The main challenge for the email marketers of the future

With rapid changes in technology, consumer behavior, and regulatory landscapes, email marketing specialists face not only opportunities but also challenges. The main thing is adapting to changes. 

While the world is changing at a rapid pace, many businesses are struggling to keep up. According to an Accenture report, 95% of both B2C and B2B executives believe their customers are changing faster than they can adapt their businesses. This sentiment is echoed by consumers, with two-thirds stating that companies are not responding quickly enough to their evolving needs.

But here’s the twist: every challenge is also an opportunity. Businesses that can adapt quickly and effectively are going to meet their customers’ needs, outpace competitors, and fuel growth.

So, what’s the bottom line? The future of email marketing is bright, but it requires marketers to be agile, innovative, and always focused on the customer. By staying updated with emerging trends, making the most of new technology, and prioritizing customer needs, businesses can navigate the changing landscape and maximize their email marketing potential.

As we move forward, success in email marketing will depend on the ability to adapt, innovate, and deliver value to customers, all while respecting their privacy and preferences. It’s a big ask, but for those who can rise to the challenge, the rewards will be significant.

Final thoughts

As we’ve explored in this article, the future of email marketing is a dynamic landscape, filled with exciting opportunities and significant challenges. Here are the key takeaways for navigating this evolving field:

  • Embrace change: The world is changing rapidly, and so are the needs and behaviors of your customers. Stay adaptable and be ready to reassess your metrics and strategies regularly.
  • Prioritize privacy: With increasing regulations around data privacy, compliance is not just a legal obligation but also a necessity for building trust with your audience. Make sure you’re up-to-date with the latest laws and use compliant email marketing strategies.
  • Leverage AI: Artificial intelligence offers a wealth of opportunities, from automating routine tasks to providing personalized content recommendations. Embrace this technology, but do so with an understanding of its capabilities and ethical considerations.
  • Stay relevant: From the rise of hyper-personalization to the importance of mobile-friendly emails, keep up with the latest email marketing trends so that your strategies remain effective and relevant.
  • Use the right tools: Choose an email marketing service that supports your needs, whether that’s automation, personalization, or data analysis. Look for user-friendly interfaces, powerful email builders, and robust analytics and reporting features. Register in Selzy and try the service for free.
  • Keep learning: The future of email marketing is still being written. Stay informed about the latest developments, and don’t be afraid to experiment with new strategies and technologies.

Remember, no matter how much the industry changes, the core principles of email marketing remain the same. It’s all about delivering the right message, to the right person, at the right time. With a well-crafted email marketing checklist and a commitment to continuous learning and adaptation, you’ll be well-equipped to navigate the future of email marketing.

11 August, 2023
Article by
Ana Balashova
I'm a seasoned PR and marketing pro turned tech writer, with a decade of experience working with big names like DuPont, Avon, Evernote, TradingView, and SAP. I've also dived into the world of crypto startups, contributing to several blockchain publications. Now, I'm bringing my passion for technology, entrepreneurship, and marketing to Selzy. Here, I combine my love for writing and excitement about contributing to the growth of a great product.
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