How’s that New Year’s resolution to get your inbox in shape going? Remember your plans to transform it into a lean, mean, productivity machine? If sticking to that plan feels especially challenging at the moment, the flood of emails reminding you about your favorite brands’ post-holiday sales is partly to blame.

You’re not the only one thinking about email marketing. It’s a red-hot topic of discussion right now. Shifts in technology, business and society already underway in 2022 are fueling increased interest in email marketing. These shifts include:

  • actions by Big Tech
  • evolving audience behaviors and needs
  • continuing changes to the job landscape.

Four billion people–half of the planet’s population–use email daily, according to market and consumer data firm Statista. In addition, September 2021 research by marketing software provider Litmus pegs email marketing return on investment (ROI) at a return of $36 for every $1 invested. Email is still the best bang-for-the-buck marketing channel. When this many consumers and dollars are up for grabs, we should expect a lot of chatter.

Giant corporations aren’t the only ones who should be paying attention. A Campaign Monitor 2021 survey reports that 64% of small businesses use email marketing. Small-business owners and solopreneurs: If you have an email list, consider yourself an email marketer.

We reviewed expert predictions–almost as many as there are marketing emails in your inbox–about trends for 2022, grouping the stand-outs by theme. Let’s dive in.

Apple Mail Privacy Protection Sparks a Closer Look at Key Performance Indicators

Apple Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) took effect on September 20, 2021, and email marketers continue to reckon with it. According to Apple, the new feature “helps users prevent senders from knowing when they open an email and masks their IP address so it can’t be linked to other online activity or used to determine their location.” It adds a layer of privacy users didn’t have before.

Why has this policy caused waves? In April 2021, Litmus reported that Apple devices accounted for more than 93% of emails opened on mobile and almost 59% on desktop. Meaning, marketers can no longer rely on email opens as a metric for a significant percentage of their audiences.

Salesforce suggests that moving away from open rates as a KPI is a good thing. “What you really want to know is how readers engaged with the content in the email after opening it and what actions they took. Click-through rate (CTR) measurement will not be impacted by the new privacy features.”

Your takeaway: Marketers should reassess the metrics they have leaned on historically and should concentrate on measuring engagement that goes deeper than email opens, such as click-through rates and conversions. Google Analytics, which has a free version, is an excellent way for any marketer to understand their customer’s journey.

Artificial Intelligence Gets Personal

As email users become even more marketing-savvy and protective of their data, Designmodo, creator of website and email building products, views improving artificial intelligence as a boon for email marketers. We can tap data-backed AI to do much of what we previously did ourselves. It could be a life-saver for some feeling the sting of today’s labor shortage. Email design software company Unlayer believes AI “can lead to successful email campaigns without committing lots of time and resources.” They’re fans of AI’s capacity to:

  • write email subject lines and copy
  • identify the best time to send an email
  • provide personalized experiences
  • scrub email lists

Because consumers are increasingly giving up their data in exchange for more personalized offerings, Designmodo sees AI additionally capable of sifting through mountains of data, correlating it from various sources and forecasting subscriber actions.

Your takeaway: Marketers will look to artificial intelligence tools to hyper-personalize multiple elements of email marketing campaigns. Good news: AI isn’t only for those with deep pockets anymore. Service providers like MailChimp offer AI-driven content optimizers for monthly fees that solopreneurs and small-business owners appreciate.

Speaking of AI, SaneBox has its own to manage unruly inboxes. SaneBox’s AI analyzes a user’s email history and learns which emails are important–then sorts new emails into convenient folders accordingly. Plus, it continues to learn through your behavior and adjust as needed. Meaning, no more critical emails will get buried! Marketing emails you want to read eventually are saved for later. And consider emails that are a waste of time banished.

Zero-Party Data: Another Key Enabling Personalization

Zero-party data is data that consumers provide willingly. As far back as 2018, Forrester Research called it “gold.” “When a customer trusts a brand enough to provide this really meaningful data, it means that the brand doesn’t have to go off and infer what the customer wants or what [their] intentions are.”

In 2022, what’s new about zero-party data isn’t how desirable it is to marketers. What’s new is how necessary it is becoming. Ninetailed, whose solutions enable marketers to provide website visitors with personalized experiences, refers to zero-party data as part of the “new frontier” for personalization. “In the age of decreased consumer trust and increased regulations on data collection, marketers have an opportunity to improve the customer experience by leveraging their own zero-party and first-party data.”

For example, Valvoline used an interactive, gamified quiz to trade a fun experience, information about Valvoline’s product, and an oil change coupon for otherwise-unavailable data about driving habits directly from their customers. The result was a mutually beneficial exchange: savings for the consumer and zero-party data for Valvoline.

Your takeaway: Marketers must create new methods of prompting audiences to provide their coveted information willingly. Oh yeah, the new methods also have to observe tighter and tighter privacy regulations.

How to Preserve Audiences’ Trust in Uncertain Times

In these trying times, email marketers need to maintain the hard-earned trust of their audiences. The Great Resignation is diminishing email campaigns’ reach and effectiveness. The masses of workers who left jobs and their corporate email addresses behind are obliterating mailing lists.

Winning back and preserving audiences requires social proof that others like your brand. Your customers’ positive feedback and reviews are free and hopefully plentiful. Constant Contact recommends including customer testimonials, press mentions and awards in emails as ways to boost very-important-in-2022 click-through rates. Give this era’s cynical consumers something to trust.

Epsilon calls out Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI) as an inexpensive and low-effort means of informing audiences of “the authenticity and value of your [brand’s] email[s].” BIMI enables marketers to display brand-controlled logos within supporting email clients. Your logo assures recipients that emails are from you, a brand they are interested in.

Your takeaway: Businesses big and small will seek out new methods for demonstrating social proof to customers. Using positive reviews and logos in emails has proved to be a one-two punch: inexpensive and effective.

Stay Informed to Stay Relevant

2022 is shaping up as a year that will reward businesses that do their marketing homework.  Staying on top of email marketing innovations, best practices and consumer behavior will be worthwhile investments in your business’ success this year. Get familiar with ARC (Google it) and ideas about email accessibility. They aren’t discussed here but are worthy of your attention. Being informed, combined with your knowledge of your audience, will allow you to cut through the noise and identify which trends matter most to you.

About your New Year’s resolution: SaneBox can help whip your inbox into fighting shape. Start 2022 streamlined, organized and ready to rock. Need social proof?

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