Sam Rose - Head of Content

Sam Alexandra Rose

27th July 2022

How Is Email Marketing Evolving?

The Past: Fundamentals of Effective Email Marketing

At first glance, it seems like the tips for writing, creating and sending effective emails have not changed over the years. Take this blog post for example – it was written by Lorna in 2012, and much of what she said still stands today. She touched on segmentation, personalisation, drawing people in with compelling subject lines, providing exclusive offers to newsletter subscribers, having a clear call to action, using images wisely, testing your newsletter, tracking performance, and giving people a way to unsubscribe. All of this was true in 2012 and is still very relevant ten years later.

Add to this, we have blogged about how to write effective email content over the years, and again, much of what we have said is still very true. You can take a look at our previous blog posts for some great tips that build on the fundamentals of email content:

So does that mean that email as a marketing channel has been standing still for a decade? Not at all. While the fundamentals of email marketing haven’t changed, there has been an increased emphasis on some factors over others.


The Present: The Rise of Personalisation, Segmentation and Automation

One of these factors is personalisation, and while in 2012 this may have been limited to including your recipient’s name in your subject line, we can go a lot further than this today, with the help of segmentation and automation. These three areas overlap and work together to create a better experience for recipients and increased clicks and conversions for businesses. Personalisation means sending emails that are relevant to each individual customer. This means only emailing people about things you think will genuinely interest or be relevant to them. This may be based on their demographics or previous activity on your website. For example, you may send them mailshots regarding product types they have previously purchased, or suggest similar products they may also need, based on their activity or the buying trends of other customers.

One way to put this personalisation into action is by using segmentation. This means taking your existing mailing list and further dividing it into groups – so you may have a segment for people who bought a certain product type, or who fit a certain demographic. By putting people into these segments you can easily email everyone who meets particular criteria and increase the chances of them converting – rather than sending the same message to everyone whether it’s relevant to them or not.

Automation takes this further. By implementing email automation, you can send your customers on a journey or “workflow” to lead them towards whatever conversions you would like them to make. For example, you may offer an ebook on your website that users can access by providing their email address and signing up to the newsletter. Once they have provided their email address and downloaded their ebook, perhaps you would like to send them more content after a certain amount of time so that they don’t forget about your business. This could be an email about blog posts or articles on your website that provide supplementary content similar to that in the ebook. You could then continue to send emails based on the user’s activity to nudge them closer to making a purchase. All of this happens automatically through automated workflows. You can read more about automation in our blog post “What Is Marketing Automation And Why Should You Use It?” and our three-part, Lord of the Rings-inspired series “How Email Marketing Automation Can Transform Your Customers' eCommerce Journey”.

This emphasis on personalisation and automation isn’t the only thing that has changed over the years. The way people consume email has also changed, as people are using their smartphones and tablets more and more. Users are no longer using desktop or laptop PCs exclusively to read their emails, and it’s important to acknowledge this when designing your emails. This means testing that your emails look good and work as you expect on multiple device types and email clients.

We also have more content clamouring for our attention, and this means everyone’s consideration span has decreased. Not only are you competing against other emails in a person’s inbox, but the myriad of social media platforms and apps that are available. This puts even more emphasis on having a compelling subject line that makes people want to open the email instead of deleting it straight away. Don’t forget about the preview text, too, as that can also help explain what your email is about and draw people in.


The Future: Small Screens and Contained Experiences

So that’s where we are currently, but what is the future of email marketing? Well, it seems that automation is certainly here to stay, and the content tips we’ve given over the years are holding steady, too. But there are two things that are happening that could impact how you create emails in the future – devices are getting even smaller, and email features are improving.

Let’s tackle the small devices first, and by small devices we mean smartwatches. With the likes of Apple Watch, people are now able to do more than ever using a tiny screen on their wrist. Not only do these watches count steps and provide other health information, but they can also display notifications, messages and content from your smartphone. This means that in the future, more emphasis may be on the content shown on these small devices and how content such as email can be optimised to display well in this format. So one suggestion is that things are getting smaller and email may need to be more concise or formatted differently to accommodate this new way of viewing.

The second idea is that users can now do more things within emails themselves, making emails a more interactive, contained experience – or even becoming their own microsites. While emails were once text-only, we can now add images, forms, buttons, videos, carousels, countdowns and more to our emails. This means that people can interact more with emails, and it may be that emails follow the lead of social media – enabling customers to make a purchase without leaving the platform at all. Email could therefore be considered a form of microsite, where everything the sender wants the user to do could be completed within the email itself. One thing to note about this is that some email clients may develop faster than others, so it’s important to check whether all of the interactive features of your email work with all clients and devices.

So on the one hand, email content may need to be shorter and more concise to work well with emerging small screen technology, but on the other hand, email design is becoming more complex to allow for increased interaction.


Whatever the future holds for email, it will always be important for your email marketing to be to the point, relevant, compelling, and have a strong call to action – and SilverDisc will be on hand to guide you through any new trends. If you would like help with your email marketing, get in touch with SilverDisc.

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