by Anna Jan 19, 2018

As the New Year begins, this is the best time to stop for a moment and think about how you can change, upgrade or improve your plan for email marketing.

I’m sure that there are a least a few of you working on improving your email marketing strategy already - that’s awesome. But for those of you who may need a bit of inspiration to get a grasp of what aspects of your plan you should be focused on, we’ve highlighted a few expected trends for 2018. So, pull up a chair, take notes and prepare to send your next email campaign with confidence!

Respecting personal data should be at the top of your priorities

You probably know that new legislation will be in force from May 2018. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is European legislation that will force businesses to protect the data and privacy of all European Union citizens. So, if you are a member of the European Union or if you sell to the European market, you should take action and prepare the right documents for your company and for your users or clients.

Don’t take this lightly - you definitely don’t want to put your business in jeopardy by neglecting to take the time to ensure you’re following the rules.

MARTECH Magazine perfectly explains what GDPR means:

In order to be GDPR-compliant, a company needs to not only handle consumer data carefully, but it must provide consumers with myriad ways to control, monitor, check and, if desired, delete any information pertaining to them that they want.

Companies that wish to stay in compliance must implement processes (and in many cases, add personnel) to ensure that when data is handled, it remains protected. To comply with this requirement, the GDPR promotes pseudonymization over anonymization.
Anonymization is the encryption or removal of identifiable information so that it can never be tied back to a user. Pseudonymization is somewhere between identified and anonymous. With pseudonymization, the data components are anonymized and separated but can be put back together. For example, a system might assign a user one identifier for location and another for browser that can only be tied back to the user if it is put together with their date of birth, which is kept separately. This is key to compliance, since the GDPR requires companies to be able to give users an accurate accounting of their data.

According to the GDPR, companies must ensure that customers have control over their data by including safeguards to protect their rights. At its core, the protections have to do with processes and communication that are clear and concise and are done with the explicit and affirmative consent of the data subjects.

Take steps right away if you haven’t, make sure you’re prepared and that your business is compliant.

An email will be more about dialog, not a monolog

It is not really a new trend. But it’s definitely worth noting. In 2018 marketers will continue to grab the attention of their subscribers by using a more conversational tone. What does that mean exactly? It means you want to communicate with, not just to, your recipients.

Using images, texts and even buttons that show personalization (more on this later) and individualization depending on your contact’s history is going to demonstrate that you take care of your subscribers. In addition, providing opportunities for recipients to share what they think, what they like, what they want or what your business could improve is a powerful channel for building your client relationships.

So, when you design your content, keep in mind that this year you should care more about customer experience. Use the right tools to collect data about your customers and create campaigns that will fit your subscriber’s needs.

Keep focus on mobile-friendly design

A few months ago we shared with you our tips on how to make your emails better for mobile. We also mentioned this during our last webinar.

According to Smart Insights, people spend around 50% of their online time on their mobile devices, and this Litmus report shows that 54% of emails are opened on mobile devices. Thes numbers should matter to you. The sooner you make your mail mobile-friendly, the better your email marketing results will be.

Responsive design is no longer an option. This is a must-have for every marketer that wants to be successful.

Prepare your design team for big changes in email design

Not only is email design for mobile devices important, but this year you will have to pay attention to email design in general. You’ll need to be more creative.

Start by making your email more interactive.
What does it mean? It means more ways to participate in the email process. Consider adding surveys, simple games, quizzes or galleries that make your email more than just a means of communication.

Next, you’ll probably be seeing the more Plain-text email.
You may have sent plain text emails already - these can be more effective than HTML emails at times. Using plain text means your emails always render correctly no matter what email client you’re sending to, this can mean higher engagement rates in some cases.

Personalization and segmentation is going to be mission-critical

We’ve pointed out in the past why people ignore your emails. One of the reasons we mention is that if you treat all of your subscribers the same way, don’t be surprised if they treat your emails like any other marketing email, they may ignore it or even mark it as spam. This is why you’ll want to make your messages more personal and segment your lists.

In Elastic Email, we provide a lot of tools that help you deliver a better experience for your subscribers. But before you even sign up for your Elastic Email account, it matters a lot how you collect your subscribers - this is the beginning of their relationship with you. Keep this part of your contact’s story in mind when you design your campaigns - where did I first “meet” this contact? This may influence how you create lists for your campaigns.

Try to segment your users based on that common sign up history, common values or behaviors for them (are they opening every email you send them, or only once in a while). Spare some time to think about this and you will see how huge a difference it makes. We provide an easy (but powerful!) Segmentation tool - so take a moment to test it out for yourself.

The second topic is Personalization. At the beginning of this paragraph, I said that if you treat all of your subscribers in the same way, you’re not going to see the best engagement rates possible for your business. There are a lot of different ways you can personalize your emails. The easiest way is to use Merge Tags. Thanks to them, in two minutes you will be able to personalize your bulk messages, but only if you’ve gathered this information from your contacts when they signed up to receive your mail (another reason why your list building approach matters!).

Personalization and segmentation seem obvious - but only a small group of senders use these tools to improve their mail and results. You could be truly ahead of the pack by making the effort to employ this professional and effective approach to your campaigns.

Transactional mail and Marketing mail will co-mingle

It is good to know the difference between transactional and marketing emails, but rather than keeping these types of mail separate as we’ve seen up to this point,  you’ll see marketing mail becoming part of the transactional process by seeing information actually triggered by the actions taken by users. For example,  after purchasing, you may directly see information about other products you may like, this is likely something you’ve seen already and you can expect to see more of this trend.

Deliverability and testing - key points on your email campaign journey

As an Email Service Provider (ESP), our duty is to provide you with tips and advice on how to manage and improve your email delivery. We have written multiple articles that cover this topic. From our delivery guide to specific articles about how to get the fastest delivery for your bulk marketing or transactional mail.

We also launched a bunch of tools that help you manage your contacts and delivery. Delivery and contact/list management is essential if you want to get your emails in front of people who will engage with them. Your design or marketing skills will not matter if your delivery suffers from high invalid addresses or complaints about sending unsolicited mail. Read the articles we’ve mentioned, you won’t regret the extra insight into how delivery works.
Secondly - test your emails before you send them.

To sum up everything - we’ve given you a lot to think about, but we know you’ll take it in stride and start implementing this information into your 2018 campaigns. Go start creating, segmenting and personalizing! If you have questions or comments regarding this topic or anything else in relation to your Elastic Email account, we’d love to hear from you!

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A marketing minded individual with a heart for a deeper story. When I am not at work, I co-create non-profit projects, play tennis or explore Instagram.

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