2017 was a banner year for email. Email client creators started acknowledging the need for more standardized support of CSS. Additional industries doubled down on their email marketing as Facebook and others continue to make it increasingly difficult—without ad buys—to reach an audience. We also saw a dramatic rise in machine learning being applied to email journeys to allow for more personal and targeted campaigns generated on-the-fly. With that in mind we think it’s time to take a hard look at what you should be thinking about for your email marketing program this year.

Better Personalization

At RootedELM, we’ve always been a big proponent of tailoring your messaging to match your audience. This year Email Service Providers (ESP’s) across the board have made available newer and more in-depth tools to help you personalize your email campaigns better than ever. Take advantage of these tools and you’ll see a marked increase in your engagement and conversion rates.

Don’t just personalize with a name, but make your content unique to the audience and your subscriber. Delivering content that’s relevant and timely results in a more engaged subscriber. So go ahead and forget the old “one-size-fits-all” campaign and increase personalization that will draw attention.

Interactivity in Campaigns

Interactivity in email campaigns can come in many forms. While we’ve all seen retailers and even B2B companies use large animated GIFs that only scratches the surface of what you can and should be doing. From simple button hover effects to complex in-email forms, it all serves to delight the subscriber while drawing their attention to essential elements of your email.

With more significant support for CSS across the major email clients now is the time to add some interactivity to your campaigns.

More—and Better—Automated Campaigns

Transactional and automated campaigns consistently have better engagement rates because their content is always timely and pertinent to the subscriber. Whether it be appointment reminders, a re-marketing email or a lifecycle campaign it’s going to have a much higher chance of being opened by the subscriber.

More than half of all B2B companies use automation with even more B2C companies doing the same. With that knowledge, ESP’s made immense pushes to advanced automation tools to their product suites last year; making it an ideal time to evaluate your automated campaigns and possibly introduce more. What are you waiting for — get with your web team and get those API triggers flowing!

Artificial Intelligence

You might not realize it, but a substantial portion of the retail email messaging you receive has some form of artificial intelligence (AI) manipulating or creating it. AI is increasingly handling everything from the content to the subject of some marketers campaigns.

Over the years AI has become cheaper and readily available to the masses with the marketing world is making full use of it. A great way to get started with AI is to use it for better automated and personalized campaigns. Gone are the days of blindly trying to guess what a subscriber might like; let machine learning tailor the content to feature products or services that interest the subscriber. The result is a timely and relevant email that is even more tightly targeted resulting in even higher engagement.

Better Design/Accessability

With email clients on the march towards fully embracing all CSS has to offer, now is the time to take your email design out of the dark ages. The days of no semantic markup and designing for 600px width are disappearing fast. Today we can create an email much more like a website; some people are even ditching tables all-together in their email campaigns. While most can’t take such drastic steps, it is high-time to reevaluate your templates and codebase.

With better designs, we can also build in better accessibility into our campaigns. Wrapping our paragraphs in their proper <p> </p> tags and using header tags like <h1> </h1> and <h2> </h2> can help ensure better understanding of our emails by those using screen readers. Another advantage of developing our emails with more semantic markup is that it’s easier to adjust designs to fit the device/email client it’s being read on. It also makes it easier and faster to edit emails.