The last year has brought many changes to the email marketing landscape, with several large mail providers overhauling their look and features, more marketers willing to send daring designs, mobile devices accounting for more than half of all opens, and more messages being sent than ever before. When looking ahead to 2014, it’s great to review the trends and stories of 2013 to see how and if predictions and expectations were met. Email marketing is guaranteed to continue making mobile a priority, innovating new designs, and sending even more messages.
Gmail tabs launched in late May, releasing a new way that messages are automatically categorized on the world’s largest mail provider. There is still some on-going debate between marketers about how much of an impact this new design has had on open rates and other engagement metrics. Yahoo mail also overhauled their interface, opting to update an inbox that was looking dated. Microsoft also fully replaced Hotmail with Outlook, which came with a design and feature overhaul. For 2014, these companies will continue to compete with each other with new innovations and features. It wouldn’t be surprising to see a copycat of the Gmail tabs, despite the initial mixed reaction to the feature. Marketers will need to test email copyon a regular basis due to the constant changes to desktop and mobile inboxes.
ExpertSender blogged frequently about cleverly designed email messages—more and more of which were utilizing video, gifs, and dynamic content which hasn’t always been used in email marketing. Consumers expect more great designs from brands, and this trend is sure to continue as companies compete to stand out from the crowd on huge email days like “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday.” Consumers will also be increasingly frustrated by designs that aren’t optimized for mobile devices, since the number of opens on mobile devices is still increasing.
Mobile email opens increased from 43% to 51% over the course of 2013 according to email testing service Litmus. Marketers have definitely taken notice of this fact, but mistakes are still being made by brands that aren’t optimizing their content for mobile devices. For marketers that were paying attention, responsive design was a very popular topic of discussion. Responsive design and tweaks like sidebars disappearing and buttons being made more clickable are sure to grow with the amount of mobile market share. In the time since Gmail released their new tabbed inbox, Gmail has also updated the interface of their app for iPad and feature phones, which shows mobile inboxes are also rapidly changing.
Although the final numbers aren’t in, 2013 is on pace to have the largest email volume of all time. This trend is expected to continue into the near future, and should come as no surprise to most marketers. The increasing volume will bring more competition, more innovation, and new trends that haven’t even begun to take hold.