2013 definitely had some notable events in the email world (such as the introduction of GMail tabs and Yahoo announcing they'd be recycling abandoned addresses). Now that the dust has somewhat settled from those two items, it's time to look at some email trends that are going to be important in 2014.
Email Trend #1: Develop a Mobile Strategy
Over 64% of decision makers read email via mobile, so you'll want to start building that into your planning. Consider the following:
Implement responsive design into your marketing (we are working on a few templates for a starting point for you)
Put your best/most important content FIRST
Limit form fields
Use single column display when possible
Optimize landing pages for mobile
Email Trend #2: Implement A Re-Engagement Strategy
We've talked about re-engagement a number of times, but it's becoming more and more important. The bottom line is that the more un-engaged people you have in your list, the more likely the ISPs are to regard your messages as spam and send you right to the junk folder. Consider the following:
Determine your re-engagement starting point (30 days, 90 days, etc.)
Develop a campaign to get subscribers to reconnect and remember to really work on your subject lines since they've demonstrated that those messages aren't working.
Offer a downsell subscription (monthly newsletter instead of daily)
Remove people that have NOT re-engaged and use other media to win them back.
Email Trend #3: Adapt to Filtering
When Gmail announce the tabs, you'd have thought Armageddon was here! But the truth is... Microsoft has had Clean Sweep for the past year and the Gmail tabs are just a different way of filtering that Google has been doing for some time already with things like priority inbox. Since you can change it, consider some of these options:
Teaching subscribers how to move your messages from the Promotions Tab to the Inbox (Best to do this immediately upon signing up)
Adapting your branding and subject lines to align with the other content in the promotions tab. After all, they're in the "promotions" mindset when they click the tab, so it may not be all bad ;-)
Email Trend #4: Get Targeted on Your Messages
Send subscribers the messages they WANT to receive from you.
Use custom data and let the users self-select what they want to get in terms of offers and promotions.
Use custom fields and merge tags to give users a custom experience based on the information they have provided to you.
Use triggers to add/drop people from lists once they've clicked on specific links within messages or signed up for different webinars.
Diagram out processes and subscriber flow BEFORE implementing the strategy in your email software
Start small! It's better to do one or two things really well and scare up from there.
Email Trend #5: Content is King
We've mentioned the issue of content several times in the past few months as well, but this is one of the easiest things that you have control over.
Test your messages BEFORE sending them out to make sure they inbox. Change the subject, body copy, and even the footer, if necessary.
Watch your complaints to make sure that your content is on point with your audience.
Test different content lengths, but always focus on your best and most important information at the top. People have short attention spans and often scan for what they're looking for.