Email marketing trends 2022: 10 ideas for the new year

Email marketing is an important tool to inform your customers about offers, new products, or special promotions. Technical developments and changed user behavior mean that you have to regularly adapt your strategy to stay up to date. You might already be familiar with some of these trends – a sign that they are becoming more and more important. Other methods, such as A/B testing or smartphone optimization, have become so commonplace when it comes to newsletters that they don’t need to be explained in this article.

Generally, this year’s email marketing trends are also aimed at inspiring readers and challenging them with new ideas. The biggest challenge with newsletters is providing users with useful content and original advertising messages. Data protection is a growing challenge here. That's why you need to find ways to measure success in a way that does not disrupt user privacy.

Accessibility

Your clientele is diverse – and your newsletter should reflect that. So, make sure to design emails in a way that all recipients feel addressed and can access the content. This includes people with visual impairments. Therefore, don’t get too creative with the color selection, and ensure strong contrasts. This helps both people with visual impairments and those who are color blind. Enough white space, i.e., blank spaces, visually structures the text and makes it even easier to read.

Also, assume that people with no eyesight at all are among the recipients of your newsletters. Blind people often use a screenreader. This software captures the content on the screen and then reads it aloud. So, for your newsletter content to be expressed, it must also be perceived as text. That’s why you shouldn’t exclusively place content in graphics. For HTML newsletters, use additional alt texts that put the image content into words.

For newsletters, you can follow the same tips that apply to accessible websites:

  • Clear test design with plenty of whitespace
  • High contrast and restrained color design
  • Correct HTML formatting
  • Meaningful alternative texts for images
  • Clearly recognizable buttons and links

However, accessibility can also refer to the language used. Not every mail recipient can decode nested sentences and understand foreign words. If you offer a version in simple language in addition to the detailed text, you are actively promoting inclusion.

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Dark Mode

Dark mode is becoming increasingly popular on desktop devices, smartphones, and tablets. In dark mode, the entire display is immersed in dark colors. Many users find this more comfortable for their eyes, especially with ambient lighting. Settings for dark mode can be automated, so users can access a bright screen during the day and switch to dark mode at night.

This presents a challenge for marketers because newsletters must look appealing in both light and dark mode. In dark mode (depending on the mail client), the email background will be displayed in black or dark gray and the text will be white for this purpose. But this only works for the actual text. If you add images to your newsletter, which would otherwise blend in nicely with the text on a white background, they may suddenly stand out negatively.

That is why design elements should be designed in a way that they suit dark mode well. You can test your emails in both options.

Automation

While automation is not a new email marketing trend, it is a continuing one – and is becoming increasingly important. In the past, it might have been sufficient to send a message once a week and schedule a dispatch date in advance. But now it’s simply not enough. Good automation reacts to the users’ behavior. This way, you can accompany different users in their purchase decisions.

Good newsletter automation works via triggers – customer actions. Depending on how your customers act (or don’t act), you send an automated, prepared email. Simple triggers can be registration or purchase, for example, after which you send a confirmation. But it can be more complex if you build chains and let them branch out. For example, with well-set automation, you send different messages depending on whether the reader opened your last newsletter or it ended up unopened in the trash. A/B tests can also be perfectly controlled by way of email automation.

Thanks to automation, you can kill two birds with one stone: on the one hand, you can react much faster and more individually to each user. Depending on how your customers act online, you can prepare the right email for them and can send it in real-time. On the other hand, you save resources because automation processes mean you need less time and fewer staff members to run effective email marketing.

Customization

Another newsletter trend that is becoming more and more popular every year and is closely linked to automation is personalizing your emails. For your messages to be effective, they should be as individual as possible. You need more than just the correct name of the customer to impress them: you should also react to what your customer is doing and find out who is behind the email address. Make the most of the information you have on your customers. Even if this data can’t always be assigned to individual people, it gives you a good overview of your target group.

Thanks to automation, you can also react directly to your customers’ behavior. Send follow-up emails when they’ve made a purchase, respond to a product search, try to reactivate users that have gone quiet, or simply congratulate them on their birthday and give them a gift voucher. Make sure you only deliver content that is relevant to your customers. Don’t, for example, try to sell women’s clothes to someone who is only interested in men’s shirts. Work with different distribution lists since not all users fit the same template. Create meaningful groups and address users more effectively.

User generated content

Another option to make your newsletters more personal is to include content from users or customers. The most popular method involves adding customer reviews into emails. A positive comment about your products or services in the introduction of your newsletter will immediately reflect positively on your readers and spark interest. More detailed reviews are well received because they take the reader's perspective and are thus more credible than traditional advertising messages.

You can also incorporate user-generated content into your email marketing campaign by engaging your readers through a survey and collecting informative data on their shopping preferences etc. Add a call to vote into the first email and follow it up with the survey in your subsequent newsletter.

Fact

Email marketing and user-generated content (UGC) go hand in hand: Newsletters lend themselves to showcasing UGC, but they are also an effective tool for collecting contributions from users. An automated and timed email following a purchase may entice customers to leave a review.

Interactive content

Another newsletter trend is aimed at interactive content. This means that users can influence the content when reading the email. This is based on the idea of gamification: typical game elements that give the reader a challenge are inserted into the email. The principle works because the user gets a high from playing and doing well, even though they don’t technically get anything for winning. However, you can create further incentives by distributing small prizes such as coupons, as a reward.

But it doesn’t always have to be a game: anything a reader can click on will increase their interest. For example, several tabs can be integrated within an email so that the reader can click through the offer. In the spirit of user generated content, surveys can be filled out directly in an email for great results. This gives you a double advantage: on the one hand, you can collect interesting data from the survey and on the other hand, your email will get more attention.

Note

Not every user can display interactive elements correctly, so make sure your e-mail looks acceptable and interesting to read even without these elements present. You can also provide a link so that the content can be displayed in the browser.

Plain text emails

Although interactive and elaborative content is part of the successful email marketing trends in 2022 and the possibilities shouldn’t be overlooked, you might notice that a countermovement is happening at the same time: some marketers are going back to plain text emails. This is because they want to ensure that all users see the email as it’s intended to be seen. The benefits are that users don’t need to download and graphics, for example. Any potential challenges posed by dark mode are not a problem with plain text emails.

However, the option deprives you of plenty of design options to attract attention which means you’ll need to convince readers through the content of your texts. Write texts that intrigue readers and win them over; text that in the best case are followed with a call-to-action. Keep it short for newsletters: large blocks of text tend to discourage readers. You can include lists to break up the typeface a bit.

The advantages of a plain text email include correct presentation. These types of newsletters are usually inexpensive and quick to produce. While graphically complex emails may require the assistance of designers and photographers, plain text emails are easy to produce. Plain text emails may stand out from the crowd and attract more attention from readers, because they look very different from more graphic ones.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence is starting to spill out into areas outside of computer science. Smaller companies also now rely on artificial intelligence and machine learning. Therefore, another current email marketing trend is to integrate artificial intelligence into the creation and distribution of newsletters. This development is still in its infancy but it’s advisable to get in there and keep your eye on the ball. The focus is on optimization and making predictions.

For example, artificial intelligence can determine the best dispatch time. It is not only possible to determine the optimal time for large groups: it’s also possible for individual recipients. The same applies to the very important subject line: if this isn’t appealing enough, the email won’t be opened. AI can also help here, although it goes one step further: thanks to the enormous amount of data that artificial intelligence can process, it also makes it possible to make predictions. This way the computer can determine beforehand how well a certain image in a newsletter will be received, for example.

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Data protection and privacy

Another newsletter trend is competing with the possibilities of artificial intelligence and shouldn’t be ignored: data protection. This, of course, isn’t a new topic. Data protection is, was, and will continue to be an important task for marketing specialists. The large amount of personal information makes it easier to advertise on the internet (especially in combination with AI). Of course, you have to comply with the laws. If you fail to do this, your (future) customers will lose faith in you. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has outlined strict rules for companies’ handling of personal data.

Tip

Find out more about data privacy regulations in our article.

Customers must agree to their data being collected and it may only be used for purposes to which they’ve given their consent. In other words, data provided by a customer so they can buy something cannot be then used for advertising purposes. This requires additional approval. You must also ensure that this data does not fall into the hands of unauthorized people.

Furthermore, there are extensive documentation and information obligations: which data you store for which purposes must be precisely documented. You must also provide the user with information about the data storage and delete all data at the user’s request. Another important point for many companies is the one best known as “privacy by default”: the technical setting for the collection of personal data must always be as restrictive as possible. Personal data may only be transmitted after users have given their explicit consent. For email marketing, this means that in the future you will have to handle user data even more transparently and responsibly than was required in the past.

Tip

Find out more about data protection, especially the GDPR in the EU in our extensive article on the topic. Although an EU regulation, it could affect your website and newsletters in the USA and elsewhere, too.

New KPIs

Software manufacturers are increasingly working to strengthen the data protection of their users. Apple, for example, has built a feature into its in-house mail client called Mail Privacy Protection, which makes it impossible to track the opening rate of emails. Since the iPhone is one of the most popular devices for receiving emails, it may be unwelcome news for marketers, but many see this as an opportunity. Further data is required to determine the success of a newsletter campaign in the future.

Therefore, you should focus on the click-through rate. Although you want your newsletter to inform readers and clients (which is where open rates come in), you also want to redirect readers to your website. If users click through to your website, your newsletter has been a success. The conversion rate is another strong indicator of successful email marketing – the more newsletter recipients make a purchase, the more successful the email has been.

Tip

If you prefer to continue to work with open rates, you should exclude Apple devices from your analyses so as not to distort your analytics data.

Summary: newsletter trends

The email marketing trends of 2022 are bolder than ever before: automation and individualization will continue to be important in the future and can be further developed by adding artificial intelligence to the mix. The same applies to email presentation: interactive content can be used to inspire your readers. It will be interesting to see what is going to be possible in the future when it comes to design and selecting the content in emails.

It’s also becoming apparent that the content of newsletters is once again coming into focus: customers are less and less likely to be convinced by pure superficiality. Instead, you should convince them with fascinating stories and convey the values of your company. To score points with authenticity add user generated content to your newsletter.

What’s becoming increasingly important is data protection. Many users have had bad experiences in the past; not necessarily because they’ve had their data passed on to third parties. It’s more often the way that they have been addressed or harassed by newsletters. Make sure you have a sense of responsibility when it comes to data protection and content design, since this will remain a relevant newsletter trend for years to come.

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Some ideas for successful newsletters in 2022

Throughout the year, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to make your email marketing seasonal to increase customer engagement. So that you don’t sweat and can plan your successful campaigns in advance, we have put together a few dates for you:

  • New Year (1st of January): Wish your customers a good start to the new year.
  • Winter Olympics (4th February – 20th February): Beijing winter Olympics sees the best athletes compete against each other.
  • Super Bowl(13th February): The American football spectacle is gaining traction internationally, too.
  • Valentine’s Day (14th February): Romantic themes work best every year around Valentine’s Day.
  • Paralympic Winter Games (4th March – 13th March): Advocate for more inclusion and celebrate the Paralympics with a fitting newsletter.
  • International Women’s Day (8th March): Reaching out to the women who subscribe to your newsletter is always welcome!
  • Start of spring(20th March): With the flowers starting to blossom outside, it’s the ideal opportunity to introduce new colors and ideas into your mail-outs.
  • Easter (14th April – 18th April): The Easter holidays are a time to address families.
  • Mother’s Day (8th May): There are all kinds of ways of showing appreciation for moms – not just presents, so be creative in your letters!
  • Father’s Day (19th June.): An opportunity to highlight Dads across the USA!
  • Thanksgiving Canada (11th October): Time to give thanks – and show your readers, Canadian or otherwise, that you are grateful for their readership.
  • Halloween (31st October): In the USA, the festival of horrors is becoming more and more popular.
  • Men’s World Cup (21st November - 18th December): For once, the World Cup will not take place until the end of the year.
  • Thanksgiving USA (25th November): A second opportunity to give thanks – and again show your readers that you are grateful for their readership.
  • Black Friday (25th November): Black Friday is getting bigger each year, either join in with the madness, or acknowledge it with alternative offerings.
  • Advent (27th November-24th of December): Advent is traditionally a time for reflection – despite the Christmas shopping.
  • Cyber Monday (28th November): Cyber Monday might give you an opportunity to reach out to begin the Christmas period.
  • Christmas (24th to 26th of December): During the whole Advent season, with the highlight around Christmas Day, Christmas campaigns can be easily spread via newsletters.
  • New Year’s Eve (31st December): The end of the year is the perfect moment to look back – share it with your customers.

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