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Biggest Email Trends of 2021

Altaf Shaikh | April 23, 2021 

As businesses have become more dependent on digital channels to reach their customers, email is still an important tool for reaching them. However, as technology continues to evolve, so do email marketing strategies. With a majority of businesses now relying on digital methods to reach their customers as a result of the pandemic, the need to be noticed among the many also pushes that email evolution.

Based on what we at ListEngage are seeing in the world of email now, there are several recent trends to note. Here are the biggest email trends of 2021.

1. Personalization

This is not a new concept; it’s just increasing and becoming more sophisticated. Personalized messages have an ROI of 122%, and targeted emails generate an average of 58% of revenue. Putting someone’s name in a subject line or in your email greeting aren’t enough anymore. It now involves:

  • Complex segmentation.
  • Optimizing send times according to the customer’s open patterns.
  • Using dynamic content that changes depending on the receiver.
  • Matching email frequency to engagement levels.
  • Creating individualized destinations.

In order to keep track of all of the customer information needed to personalize in these ways, you need a pretty robust sales and marketing platform like Salesforce. Salesforce Interaction Studio creates customer profiles and continues to add information to those profiles each time they engage with your digital content.

2. Keep An Eye On AI

Having a system that utilizes AI is one way you can better personalize your emails and send relevant content to the right customers. AI capabilities (like Einstein in Salesforce Marketing Cloud) include machine-based decisioning on when to send emails, what personas to send to, and what subject lines are best based on what it knows about customers. It can even optimize surveys and use analytics to predict customer behaviors and outcomes. The capabilities will continue to grow as AI technology becomes more and more advanced. 

3. Making Emails More Interactive

In trying to stand out from the crowd, more businesses are making their emails interactive, which greatly increases engagement. We’re seeing:

  • Gifs and hover-over imagery
  • Design mode options (dark or light mode)
  • Polls and surveys
  • Interactive quizzes or trivia
  • Interactive product carousels
  • Gamification elements

Each of these elements makes emails more entertaining, providing a more pleasing customer experience. Including something like gif images is fairly simple to do and can immediately make an email pop, while interactive trivia and game elements will require more technical know-how. 

4. Incorporating User-Generated Content

Incorporating items such as customer reviews and poll results into your emails contributes to increasing trust among your audience members. Seeing positive customer feedback from others makes people more likely to trust a product or service. You can even incorporate photos your customers share through social media into your emails. Online clothing retailer ModCloth uses this approach often by including photos of their customers wearing the clothes they sell. They even share photos of different types of people, petite to plus-sized and with multiple skin tones, so customers can see how a specific item of clothing looks on different shapes and tones.

5. More Customer Appreciation Emails

Birthday emails are capable of generating roughly 342% more revenue than a regular promo email. In addition, customers struggling during the global pandemic are needing empathy now more than ever. Customer appreciation emails give you the chance to deliver praise and heartfelt appreciation when it’s needed most. Expressing empathy helps to build trust, strengthen the relationship to your brand, and inspire loyalty. What appreciation emails could you send that you’re not already sending? Besides birthdays, think about:

  • Anniversaries
  • Customer-relationship milestones
  • Early-access emails
  • Customer loyalty offers
  • Engagement appreciation emails
  • Appreciation emails for healthcare workers or teachers

6. Going Dark

When the pandemic drove more people online and increased their digital usage, they experienced the discomforts that come with that, such as what happens when their eyes take in more blue light. Viewing emails or your browser in dark mode reduces eye strain in low-light conditions and exposes the eyes to less blue light, which increases the risk of macular degeneration. Currently, 36% of Apple iphone users read emails in dark mode, and a poll by Android Authority showed over 80% of their users use dark mode. As a result, some big names like Adobe and Uber are now designing emails with black backgrounds, and we expect more to hop on board the dark mode train. 

7. Realistic Visuals

With people still working from home and some areas still under restrictions for public gatherings, home is where people are at. Major brands have already adjusted their photography to feature their products being used or worn in a home setting; even the overall looks of the emails themselves are more “homey,” cozy, and inviting. Besides the at-home appeal, businesses are also being “socially conscious” by using photography showing just one individual in the picture, people who are “socially-distanced,” and people wearing masks. Some aren’t using people at all, but using illustrations as their main email graphics. 

ListEngage can show you how your business can use Salesforce to make messaging more personal, interactive and automated by incorporating AI and designing messages that generate results. Contact us to learn more. 

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Altaf Shaikh

Altaf Shaikh | Founder, CEO

Altaf Shaikh is the Founder and CEO of ListEngage. When people were still using dial up and the words ‘marketing’ and ‘automation’ were seldomly used together, Altaf became obsessed with finding and creating automated marketing solutions. Altaf’s background in Computer Science and Engineering made him re-think how he could use new and emerging digital technologies to engage people in unique and relevant ways with the right mix of brand, data and analytics. That passion led Altaf to become a marketing automation expert. Altaf started ListEngage in 2003 to help companies transform their digital marketing programs. Under Altaf’s leadership, ListEngage has grown to become a top-rated partner in the Salesforce ecosystem, has served 3000+ customers and earned multiple awards, such as: ExactTarget Global Services Award, the Inc. 5000 award three consecutive years, the Boston Business Journal's FAST 50 two years in a row and the Top 20 Salesforce Provider award by CIO magazine. Altaf and the ListEngage team love bringing their years of hard work, expertise, certification and acquired “superpowers” to help customers maximize their investment in Salesforce. Contact Altaf at