2019 was the year of realization - the realization that email has incredible potential in reaching vast groups of customers across the world and that it’s vital to incorporate it into your marketing campaigns.

However, with the start of a new decade, the techniques you’ve been using so far might not have the initial impact you’d been hoping for. With email constantly changing and adapting, you need to strive towards creating the best experience for your subscribers. What better way to do so, than implementing the latest email marketing trends in your email campaigns.

We’ve carefully picked the 10 most promising 2020 email trends divided by two main categories. Design and Technology - so you can kick off the year strong and be prepared for any challenges.

Email design trends of 2020

The first thing that your subscribers notice is the design of your email. It’s important to keep it fresh and modern. You can achieve this with a few simple upgrades, but you need to do it thoughtfully. That’s why we brought together the most aspiring email design trend ideas for this year that will elevate your messages from good to great.

1. Include dark designs

The dark mode is taking email by storm. More and more people have decided to switch their app settings to dramatically change the look. It's proven to be better for late-night internet scrolling and for users suffering from photophobia, keratoconus, or similar conditions. It can also help you focus more and save your battery’s life.

Aside from that, the dark mode can look cleaner and less busy. It could be that we, as recipients, got so used to seeing emails as they usually are, but dark designs just seem more appealing and eye-catching than the classic ones. In some cases), they can set the tone for your email, help some colors appear more saturated or intense and they definitely stand out in an inbox. 

In short, the various benefits are making people turn this feature on which makes it a good idea to explore the possibilities of beautiful, moody email designs.

2. Switch to 3D graphics

Currently, images are a core element of any email, but putting them on the header doesn’t make it a good one. If you feel like you might need to refresh your email design, maybe it’s time to switch from 2D to 3D and give your emails a completely new dimension. The 3D graphics can elevate your email, showing your products or services in a completely different way with more life and depth. They can help bring your products to life and create an interesting composition. You can use them to highlight an important part of your email as they definitely stand out. 

There are many ways to create show-stopping 3D graphics. You can use professional modeling software like Blender or Poser, opt for tools that cater more towards beginners, or even use Photoshop to turn your 2D images into 3D visuals without much training. You can even decide to change the route and create some optical illusions that will imitate a three-dimensional appearance. 

Designmodo married 2D typography with 3D graphics that really show just how much potential there is in this form of art. It has a clear message, a standout design and it certainly looks different than the usual emails you receive.

3d graphics

3. Include isometric images

If you feel like 3D graphics might be a little too much for your email, as it can be time-consuming, there is still a way to make your messages pop with another design trend that we see is gaining more popularity this year. Isometric illustration.

Isometric drawing is a type of 3D graphics that uses 30-degree angles to ensure that the image itself is not distorted. In other words, it’s a 3D representation of a design, on a 2D surface. It does follow a couple of rules to work properly, but once you get the hang of the basics, creating it is pretty simple. It’s a perfect solution if you want your emails to stand out, but you don’t necessarily have a lot of time to produce a complete 3D render. 

Its clean design and ability to showcase products and services in a creative way makes it really popular across the web, and soon enough, in email. It’s definitely a good idea to think about implementing this trend in your new product campaign. It doesn’t even need to be that advanced, to work its magic. Just look at the example below. Lyft created a very simple graphic using isometry, which makes a wonderful impression.

isometric design example

4. APNG as a next-level animations

Currently, if you want your email design to excite your audience, you can use looped animations like GIFs. This popular format doesn’t weigh much and it’s all the rage especially with younger subscribers. But, what would you say if I told you that there is something even better ahead?

APNG is an extension of the PNG format that supports animations. It’s higher in quality and comparable in file size resulting in seamless graphics for your email campaign. The only downside is that as of now, Gmail App and Gmail Desktop don’t support it. Instead, they show the first frame of the APNG file (which is still better than not seeing the picture at all). Hopefully, we will soon see it implemented within Google's inbox. Then, switching to a new format will be a no-brainer.

If you need any more convincing, just look at the animation example. You can clearly see the difference between the two formats. APNG is clearer, smoother and prettier, and it will also look way better with darker email designs.

5. Use minimalistic designs

In 2019, minimalism came a long way - clearing out personal space, bringing joy inside the home and decluttering your virtual presence. Now, it’s time to take things one step further.

With ads attacking us every virtual step we take, we are simply too tired and too busy to consume heavy-content emails. That’s why email design will become even simpler this coming year, stripping busy graphics and walls of text in order to attract consumers. By opting for simple artwork and easy on the eye colors, your subscribers will appreciate your emails more and will be more likely to click on them again. Furthermore, don’t end your “declutter” on the visual aspect of the email. Go all the way. Reduce the noise in your message, by only sticking to essentials. Don’t jump between three subjects within a single email, but instead, focus on one main topic. By going bold and removing all the unnecessary fluff, you will stand out among your competitors. 

Choosing simpler options doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice your creativity. With a more minimal approach, you can experiment with color schemes, fonts, and graphics - trying more organic options like Today did in their newsletter.

minimal design example

6. Creative typography

Typography is a unique form of art that uses the words that we want to spread around as a foundation for the art itself. Email is no longer a set of words with a nice picture attached to it in order to attract attention. Words themselves become the images, so the reader is attracted directly to the element that we want to show to him.

Even with some rendering difficulties, using web fonts is a very common practice. But in 2020, we may see an evolution of modern typography. It’s not only going to be pretty lettering but a centerpiece of email, combining animation, shapes and including it into email graphics. And if you want to take a different approach, you can even decide to completely lose the pictures and focus solely on typography. 

A good example is made by Arte Creative below. They made an interesting piece by incorporating art into their font. It became a focal point right away and increased the attractiveness of their email.

email typography example

Email marketing technological trends of 2020

According to the newest Radicati report, there are over 3.9 billion email users worldwide. This means that over half of the world’s population is currently using email. Furthermore, it’s consistently rising to be the biggest form of communication between you and your subscribers. 

And with email marketing gaining some serious reputation over the years, we are flooded with many different ways and trends to improve it to make it even better. That’s why we've gathered 4 important marketing trends that will be essential for your campaigns throughout 2020.

7. Work with AMP

Accelerated Mobile Pages is a new technology that allows you to include interactive elements into your email body. It means that your subscribers no longer need to be redirected to your page. Instead, they will be able to make all necessary actions directly through their inbox. Neat, huh? 

We’ve already talked about the requirements you need to meet in order for AMP emails to be displayed correctly, but let’s talk more about its advantages.

With AMP, you can make incredible fully interactive and dynamic content like product carousel, animations, accordion features or even small surveys embedded in your email. Users can engage with content better and faster. They are also more inclined to give their opinions if they don’t need to leave their inbox. As a result, you will get more details about your recipients and further personalize the emails you send. AMP is easy to test and has quite extensive documentation on its page. That makes it easier to set up, although it still needs a little bit of getting used to. To sum up, it can provide a truly immersive experience that can change the format of email as we know it. 

The cherry on top: AMP is supported by Gmail, Mail.ru, and Outlook. Also, emails created with AMP is more lightweight and has a shorter loading time.

8. Automation improved

Last year we wrote that email automation will have a great impact on creating campaigns and we weren’t wrong. This feature is quite handy with creating email sequences without extra hassle. It follows a simple set of rules and commands, so understanding the mechanics actually takes just a few minutes. There is, however, a downside to the current automation situation. It’s not scalable enough to successfully perform a one-customer experience as we are usually promised to have.

That’s why, with the start of a new decade, automation will improve. By incorporating A.I. and machine learning you can shift the dynamics of the current email landscape. Just imagine, with artificial intelligence managing each individual across the channels, customer experience will be truly integrated and immersive. You will be able to deliver the exact content at the exact time of their need and the best part, you won’t need to track it 24/7 in order for it to work. 

As beautiful as it is, the concept might be still a little far-fetched. But, it’s worth looking into it for the future, exploring this email marketing trend and getting interested in such technology.

9. Cross-channel integration

There is no denying that email is the number one choice as a marketing channel among marketers. That doesn’t mean that it has to be the only one we use.

Over the course of a few years, cross-channel marketing has become very popular. The premise is simple - synchronize all your marketing channels to deliver unified offers to your subscribers. This tactic can increase engagement and improve loyalty and brand awareness. At the same time is less personalized and can create issues for designated teams, especially in bigger organizations.

In 2020, the cross-channel concept may evolve to cover not only social media and email but also various other apps that track customer behavior - for example, geolocation. Let’s say you run a chain of cafes and customers download your application. With the right use of Privacy Policies, you can request your customers to add their location to the apps. Then, you can send an email or notification to their phone once they are close to one of your cafes. You can even take it further, monitoring the average time they pick up their coffee, and once in a while, send them a discount 20 minutes before their usual order.

Another example would be an electronics store where you can buy integrated home devices along with phones, computers, and software. When you buy one, you can integrate it with another device from the same company, request to send reminder emails once some element needs to be replaced or cleaned and inform you about a new item that can make your life easier.

10. Mobile on the rise

As per Litmus research, over 43% of all emails sent through 2019 were opened on smartphones or tablets. That means that mobile compatibility is an absolute baseline for successful email campaigns. With this trend consistently going up, it’s important to always optimize emails accordingly. Not only that, but you should also create your emails with mobile users as main recipients in mind. 

Do a test and put yourself in your subscribers' shoes. When you check email on mobile, you usually do it on the go or as a break from more time-consuming tasks. You don’t spend time going through each promotional email. Instead, you focus on the specific brand or their CTA in the subject line. With that being said, emails should be short, straight to the point and clear to understand. Resist the need to put more pictures and include extensive paragraphs about your new feature. You can save this one for the blog and link the article instead.

Future of email marketing

So those are our top 10 picks for this year's email marketing trends, separated by design and technology. We have six beautiful visual inspirations that are worth implementing in your email design and four major technological trends that will have a massive impact on the email in the coming years. 

You definitely should take them under consideration, but keep in mind that trends shift from one to another. They constantly evolve based on consumers' and marketers' needs. The ones we've covered last year are still very much up to date and it’s worth taking them into consideration while building your email campaigns. Some of the trends we’ve talked about today may take a bit longer to come to life or change completely depending on science, psychology and human behavior. Ultimately, there is no telling what changes will happen in the next 5, 10 or 20 years, but one thing is for sure - the future of email is strong.

Anna Wybieralska

Anna is working as a Content Creator in Elastic Email. An email marketing enthusiast with a millennial approach. She's either writing, buying plants or avoiding social interactions.

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