In January 2020, co-founder of Women of Email, April Mullen, and I presented a 60-minute webinar to discuss our top predictions in email for 2020.
Below are our five predictions for email in 2020; what did we get right, and what did we miss?
Hit: Compliance. Experimental and compliance elements are on the rise in 2020 as different nations passed laws against a number of non-compliant policies. The policies most notably include the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and Europe’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). Both policies support consumer privacy and set limitations on how marketers can use consumer data.
Despite threats of hefty fines, only one-third of business websites were GDPR compliant as of September 2019. The same goes for CCPA; few businesses can afford the time and technology needed to audit their systems for compliance purposes. Compliance remains a topic that many prioritize outwardly yet have a difficult time creating and allocating already strained budgets for compliance.
Miss: Brand Indicators for Messaging Identification (BIMI). This flashy standard can be extremely valuable in providing a sense of security — email recipients will be able to see your brand’s logo without even opening the email, confirming that the email is safe to open. Using BIMI should boost open rates, your email ROI and increase consumer trust.
The image below indicates which Mailbox Providers currently support BIMI, as well as which providers are planning implementation in the near future and which have no plans to adopt the standard.
While many brands expressed excitement around the initial adoption of the standard, implementing BIMI is not as simple as flipping a switch. In order for BIMI to work, other authentications must be in place in order for the logo to appear in the recipients’ inboxes.
Considering I don’t often (or ever) see logos in my inboxes, email marketers are likely setting up the prerequisite authentications (including DMARC) that will enable them to launch BIMI sometime in 2021.
Miss: Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). AMP for Email was one of the buzziest trends we heard email marketers talking about in 2019, and we’re still buzzing about it into late 2020.
This dynamic approach to building interactive emails had creative marketers rethinking how they could engage with their subscribers — and how to drum up the resources to make their AMP for email experience as seamless as possible.
For many email marketers, implementing AMP for Email continues to be a goal that remains on their email marketing roadmaps. And hopefully, email service providers and mailbox clients alike move towards content standardization.
Hit: Customer experience. It’s no secret that many successful brands are constantly evolving the customer experiences they provide, but throughout 2020 we have seen more and more brands prioritize a strong push towards improving the digital experience as millions of consumers remain (mostly) shuttered in their homes around the world.
Brands completely shifted — and improved— customer experience. A shift in the overall focus on driving unique customer experience stands out as one of the more accurate predictions we shared, albeit for reasons we couldn’t anticipate. But throughout the year, emails from certain brands have grown and matured personalization efforts, while it looks like others are sending the same static email to their entire database.
Consistent themes throughout the year gave marketers opportunities to humanize brands in an entirely different light. Customer experience became more about driving home messaging expressing solidarity of the human experience and community support.
Miss: Voice. When it comes to Voice, most marketers think of SEO — how to best optimize their web pages based on how consumers really speak and ask questions. In email marketing, it is critical to think of how your message will sound out loud to subscribers using voice functions to access their inboxes and consume content.
A quick glance at my own inbox shows that it seems as though some brands — publishers in particular — optimize their emails for voice than brands in other sectors. There is most definitely room for growth here, and with consumers increasingly using voice features on their devices, marketers need to seriously consider how emojis and other characters sound out when read out loud by Siri or Alexa:
So, what did we hit or miss? Having been on the consumer side of emails for most of 2020 — not personally involved in email production and not being able to experiment with email software hands-on — I find myself looking to my own inbox for brands that are implementing different tactics, analyzing different use cases that I’ve seen and been keeping on top of trends throughout this unusual year.
“Looking back on our predictions, there’s no way we could have known just how bad 2020 would turn out to be with COVID-19 and the resulting pandemic,” said Mullen. “Having said that, our predictions on compliance and customer experience were spot on.
“Marketers are continuing to put a strong emphasis on those two, especially as a lot of commerce and engagement moved online. Some things that I’m still bullish on, but will likely move to 2021 and beyond are around voice, AMP and BIMI. I’m not ready to give up on any of those just yet. 2020 was a hard year, so let’s see what happens when we have less distraction and pivoting with our email programs.”
Overall, Mullen and I certainly touched upon major trends that email marketers are still talking about as we close out 2020. And, despite some major curve balls thrown at all of us this year, email marketers overall did an excellent job communicating with their customers throughout this strange, strange year.
Did you have any predictions for this year — and how did your brand manage customer communications throughout 2020? If you want to share your story, shoot me (Jen Cannon) an email at email@example.com and let’s connect further.