Email Marketing Trends for 2021

Email marketing with man using a laptop in a modern gray chair

Do you want to increase your rapport with customers as well as experience more reliable customer conversion? It starts with capturing their attention in email inboxes.

For every dollar you spend on email marketing, you can expect a return of $42. This massive ROI is even larger than social media, but it’s important to keep in mind that it doesn’t happen overnight. For customers to consistently open your emails and click on your links, you need to provide quality content.

Creating the most compelling content starts with knowing the latest trends. This is because, with the popularity of social media and digital marketing, people’s expectations of brands are constantly evolving.

Read on to learn about the latest email marketing trends of 2021 that you can use in your own email campaigns today!


Although it isn’t a trend that started in 2021, it’s gained steam over the years. Personalization means that digital marketing, including email campaigns, is geared towards users’ personal experiences. However, this goes beyond using the customer’s first name in the subject line and in the first line of the email.

Personalization also includes making sure customers are segmented correctly so that they’re receiving the right emails. It also means using data in order to learn when a customer opened emails in the past in order to optimize send times.

The content within the email can also change depending on the customer’s recent actions. For instance, if they’re a new customer, you can encourage them to spend by offering a new customer discount. On the other hand, an e-commerce business may benefit by upsetting similar items after the customer made a recent purchase.

Sending a personalized email after carts are abandoned could also lead to more sales. For instance, the average cart abandonment rate between 2006 and 2018 was 69.57 percent. The goal for any brand, in any industry, is to optimize it to 20 percent or lower.

Customer Appreciation Emails

Now more than ever, it’s important that online marketing shows appreciation for loyal customers. This is because the prevalent use of social media has made people crave a more genuine, transparent experience with the brands they love.

By frequently delivering customer appreciation emails, you’re reminding customers that they aren’t just a number. Here are a few times when you can send a customer appreciation email:

  • Birthdays
  • Anniversaries
  • Milestones
  • Engagements
  • Exclusive offers

It’s also important to keep in mind that the pandemic has also increased the need for customer appreciation. You’ve probably noticed that more businesses are offering discounts and freebies to essential workers, especially those in the healthcare industry.

People in law enforcement and teachers also tend to get a few more discounts because brands recognize the importance of their jobs.

As a small business owner, being aware of what’s going on in the community is also a necessity. Sending a letter to people’s inboxes during those times is a small gesture that can mean a lot to those who were affected.

Integration With Social Media

Did you know that 72 percent of Americans use social media? This staggering number means that finding the social media platforms that your target audience uses is necessary in order to engage with them, build rapport, and convert new customers.

For this reason, more brands than before are integrating their social media platforms with the emails they send. This can be as simple as providing links to each of the social media platforms they use at the bottom of the email. It can all be a call to action that inspires people to follow you on a certain platform.

Brands are also placing calls to action in their social media posts. For instance, at the bottom of an Instagram caption, you can ask people to sign up for your email list at the link in your bio. This is because, beyond social media, customers will remember your business better if you’re sending them regular emails.

Text-Only Email Marketing

You may have noticed that in many of the brand emails that you receive each day, a good portion of them are text-only. This means they’re free of fancy graphics, colors, images, and only include a few links.

Although this may seem plain, more brands are doing this because it shows a certain level of genuineness that people are appreciating more. People are also more likely to open these emails and then read them because they appear as if they’re written by a good friend or colleague.

More importantly, they’re typically written with compelling copy that compels you to keep reading. Customers won’t feel as if their time is wasted by reading through the email. Even better, they often come with an emotional element that helps you feel closer to the author.

Featuring User-Generated Content

User-generated content is any content that’s made by users for the brand. If you go on Target’s Instagram, you’ll find that many of their posts are from users who use their decor or kitchenware in their own homes.

Not only does this make it easier for marketers to have consistent content across all their channels, but people who are submitting the content get something out of it by being featured.

With this in mind, user-generated content can also be used in your emails. You can create content urging people to create user-generated content in order to enjoy a discount or free product. Or you can feature your social media posts in the email itself.

Regardless of how the content is presented, it helps build trust and engagement in your brand. It also provides visual social proof for people who haven’t interacted with your brand yet.

Enhancing the Mobile Experience

Unless you’re actively working at your desk, most people today will take a look at their personal emails on their mobile phones. If they click on an email and find that they need to scroll horizontally or pinch the screen to zoom in, they’re more likely to delete it.

This means that brands are optimizing their emails for multiple devices just as they are for their websites. Some brands choose to send text-only emails for this reason–there are no tricky formatting issues.

It takes professional design and coding experience in order to create emails that are fully responsive. However, the work is worth it if it means higher opening rates and happier customers.

Dark Mode

Dark mode is a mode on Apple iPhones, websites, and more that makes the majority of the screen black instead of white. This has gained popularity since the pandemic, as more people are experiencing eye strain and migraines from staring at their screens all day. Dark mode provides some relief.

Brands can also follow suit and make their emails dark and easy to read as well in low-light conditions. Even better, dark mode is a dramatic design decision that can capture the attention of people who aren’t invested in the email at first.

A dark background with white font and a colorful logo can be an eye-capturing design that compels customers to keep reading.

Human Illustrations

Instead of photographs, you may find that many brands are embracing fun illustrations of people instead. Many of these illustrations are colorful and add a whimsical and fun atmosphere to the email. Illustrations can also help people relate to your brand better, as a photograph of a person may not match their demographic.

You’ll also find that hiring a designer to draw illustrations is less expensive than hiring a professional photographer and planning a shoot. If it’s in your contract, you can also use those illustrations in other pieces of your content, such as in social media posts or blog posts.

Beyond human illustrations, an illustrator can also create fun drawings of your products or services.

Pay Attention to Email Marketing Trends Today

Email marketing is one of the most effective ways you can convert customers and help build rapport with current ones. The reason for this is that if you send interesting, personalized emails at the right times, they’re far more likely to catch a customer’s attention.

You may be overwhelmed by where to start as you study these email marketing trends. We recommend keeping it simple–start by writing with compelling copy that shows appreciation and gratitude for your customers.

You don’t need to create graphically intense, responsive emails for your customers to read the email. By creating a text-only email, your customers will feel as if you’re providing them with more transparent, genuine content, and they’re more likely to read the entire email and click on the link below.

Consider saving vast amounts of time and money by outsourcing your email marketing. We help small and mid-size business strategize their marketing and increase their success–contact us today to get started!