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What will change in email marketing in 2016?


What’s in store for email marketing in 2016? Big changes are afoot, thanks to new data rules, new technology and new design approaches.

We’ve given our crystal ball a polish and taken a look at exactly what you can expect from the coming months. Read on to discover the new rules of email – here’s what you need to know and do…

1. Mobile design is finally top dog

Mobile-friendly design won’t be optional in 2016. Marketers are finally realising that it’s crucial to put mobile first, because that’s what your customers are doing. Mobile now accounts for over half of all email opens – including 57% in the UK and 66% in the US. It’s also the preferred device for online search in ten countries.

Which means mobile optimisation will be an essential priority – no more treating it as an afterthought. Marketing emails, and the websites they click through to, need to be designed with mobile in mind.

What this means in practice:

  • Using an adaptive or responsive design so your emails adjust to different devices, or even tweaking your layout completely on desktop and mobile to suit the different experiences
  • Spacing links and buttons carefully so they’re easy to select on a touchscreen
  • Focusing on usability and functionality, not just content and style

2. Modular templates: your new design tool

Modular email design is set to skyrocket in 2016, as smart marketers are realising how useful it is. Modular templates work on a block grid, so you can easily add and remove different sections. They function just like building blocks.

Modular templates are adaptable and reusable, meaning it’s quicker and easier to create new emails in a consistent style and tweak them for different segments and occasions.

3. Automation gets better and smarter

Marketers will make better use of automation this year. Our 2015 Email Industry Census revealed that 29% want to focus on this tool in the year to come.

Automation is about quality, not just quantity – targeting each stage in the customer lifecycle and using real-time triggers to send relevant emails. There’s no excuse for a blanket blast approach in 2016.

4. Clean data: know the new rules

Data hygiene has never been more important. Marketers need to adapt to the new EU General Data Protection Regulation, which is tightening up the rules around collecting and using personal data.

Individuals have the right to be forgotten, so they must have the option to ask for their data to be deleted. An unsubscribe link isn’t going to cut it any more.

As well as asking permission to send emails, you’ll also need explicit permission to use customer data to send personalised or triggered emails. Transparency and trust will be more important than ever.

5. Dynamic content: what your customers want

Dynamic content will become even more popular. According to the DMA, 63% of consumers say most of the emails they get “include no content or offers that are of interest to me”, so there’s a clear need for a more personalised approach.

The new data rules mean marketers will have to get smarter and focus on observable behaviour, rather than relying on data collected directly from customers. This also gives marketers time-saving opportunities while tackling advanced personalisation as dynamic content enables multiple versions of content contained in a single launch.

6. Where next for wearables?

The Apple Watch 2 is rumoured to be coming out in 2016, meaning another sales surge. Wearable technology is becoming increasingly popular – providing yet another medium for your customers to open your emails. But because of small screens and rendering restrictions, the all-forgotten plain text version of your emails will make a comeback. Emails based exclusively on images will likely be ignored on these devices.


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