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7 email marketing trends to help you plan 2022 campaigns

· 18 min read · Email marketing · January 13, 2022
MailerLite designer, Tautvydas.

Email sending volume increased by 22% in 2021 compared to 2020. That’s huge considering last year's blockbuster growth of 45%. So why is this happening?

Digital transformation for businesses big and small has persisted through 2021 and shaped the future of email marketing as we know it. Businesses continue to shift their strategy and use email to inform their subscribers and customers about new working hours, new online opportunities, virtual events, etc. 

It’s clearer than ever that owning an email list and having a direct line of communication with subscribers is essential.

So, how will the changes of 2021 inform your email approach in the coming year? We’ve identified 7 trends that will help you plan your 2022 email marketing strategy.

In 2021, businesses continued to turn to email marketing campaigns to talk to their most valuable customers (sending volume increased by 22%!), while adding social media and community into the mix to turbocharge these efforts. 

Instead of treating these channels as separate entities, brands are integrating them for more unified campaigns. In fact, we saw the use of social links in email campaigns increase by 44% in 2021 compared with 2020.

Aligning each channel strategically enables brands to remain consistent, and provide a seamless experience no matter the chosen form of communication. Social media is perfect for delivering quick bites of information while casually browsing. On the other hand, email marketing fulfills the need for more engaging and personalized content—it feels more personal, private and meant only for us.  

Social media is more about brand awareness and attracting new customers or followers. In contrast, email marketing is about nurturing relationships and creating loyal customers or subscribers (that’s why so many brands utilize social media to build their email lists—just ask our friends Bad Unicorn!). Finally, communities are essential for bringing your like-minded audience together to learn from each other and become advocates for your brand. 

Bad Unicorn often uses cross-channel promotions, directing subscribers to their social media and vice versa.

Bad Unicorn email campaign with cross-channel promotion with Twitter
How can I use this trend?
  • Cross-channel campaigns are your friend! Reach a wider audience and strengthen your brand by using email marketing to align your social media and community strategy. Not only will this help with overall growth, but it will also enable you to keep a line of communication open if certain social channels fail.

E-commerce businesses rely on a full spectrum of marketing tactics, and email continues to be the industry’s most powerful asset. The reason? Email reaches a targeted audience with personalized messaging that drives direct sales. In fact, email marketing delivers a 4,200% ROI. That’s a return of $42 for every dollar spent. Mind. Blown.

What’s more, by 2023, email usage is expected to grow to 4.3billion users—half of the world’s population. Not only does email marketing enable you to reach a targeted audience with your messaging, but it also allows you to tap into the largest audience possible.

Our own data shows that e-commerce orders via email increased by 65% in 2021. The trend towards shopping online, which was amplified by Covid-19, remains steady, with the e-commerce industry showing no sign of slowing down.

graph showing growth of e-commerce orders by month

Additionally, the average number of MailerLite accounts with at least 1 shop increased by 59% – a clear trend that e-commerce businesses are realizing the benefits of email marketing.

How can I use this trend?
  • If you aren't using email, start by integrating MailerLite with your e-commerce platform—MailerLite works with WooCommerce and Shopify! If you sell digital products, bring your store to your subscribers by selling directly through your newsletter. Finally, take a page out of email trend #3’s book and unify your marketing efforts across all channels to maximize your reach and amplify the success of campaigns.

Learn how to get started with e-commerce email marketing with our guide:

The shift to mobile has happened. And while businesses using MailerLite are prepared for this with responsive emails, it’s now time to take a mobile-first approach to email design.

Our data tells us that 64.73% of emails in the US are read on mobile devices. Additional data suggests that when emails aren’t displayed correctly on mobile, in 70% of cases, they are deleted within 3 seconds. 😱 

Furthermore, a Shopify study of Black Friday and Cyber Monday activity showed that an astounding 71% of sales came from mobile, compared to 29% on desktop. That’s a significant piece of the pie you could be missing out on if your emails aren’t mobile-friendly.

The good news is that nowadays mobile device screens are quite a bit larger than they used to be, so implementing mobile-first email design isn’t a difficult task. And with MailerLite, all newsletter templates are mobile-ready and responsive. Plus, you can preview your email for mobile and desktop before you hit send. 

This newsletter trend example email from Reformation has been designed with a mobile-first approach, making it as accessible and aesthetically pleasing when viewed on mobile as it is when viewed on desktop. This is mainly achieved by structuring the elements vertically, and using plenty of white space to separate the content.

mobile-first email design example
How can I use this trend?
  • Create emails that look great and are easy to digest on both mobile and desktop, just like Reformation did. Think about how the placement of elements, use of white space, size of images and length of text will appear on mobile, and design your emails around this. Plus, in MailerLite, remember to preview your email for mobile and send a test to see how it looks for yourself.

Looking for more tips? Check out this article to learn how to design professional, mobile-friendly emails:

One of the biggest email marketing newsflashes we had in 2021 was the Apple Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) update. Our bets are that this was just the beginning, and data privacy is going to become more of a priority for consumers. 

Why does this update matter? Mail Privacy Protection, when enabled, pre-loads email content, triggering the tracking pixel used for measuring open rates. Apple Mail is increasing its market share among popular email clients—it came top at the end of 2021 with 54.2%—and adoption of MPP is on the rise. This means that open rate is now a less reliable metric of success, especially if you have a large proportion of Apple Mail users in your email list.  

As a result, 2022 will see a bigger emphasis on alternative metrics, such as click-through and conversion rate. But we don’t think this is a bad thing! While the feature came as a blow for many email marketers (and we completely understand why!), many believe Apple's update actually gave us a nudge towards focusing on more valuable engagement metrics like conversions and clicks. These metrics will help businesses to better optimize campaigns for the results that have a bigger impact on their bottom line.

How can I use this trend?
  • Use open results from past campaigns to inform the decisions you make in future about subject lines and preheaders. In MailerLite, you can disable open tracking to make it easier to concentrate on other metrics. You can also filter subscribers by email client if you want to continue running A/B tests that rely on open metrics. 

  • In MailerLite, there are easy solutions to make your emails more interactive and boost subscriber engagement, such as surveys, video, social media and dynamic blocks. It’s also a good time to get even more familiar with the email automation, personalization and segmentation features. These will enable you to send more relevant (thus engaging!) emails.

Whether it’s podcasts, videos or newsletters, we’re consuming more digital content than ever before. The medium may have changed but one thing is certain—humans crave information. It’s what made newspapers a hit when they were first introduced in the 17th century, and it’s what makes email newsletters so popular today.

More and more creators are seeing the value in standalone newsletters, where the newsletter itself is the product. In fact, Substack (the online subscription platform) recently revealed that the number of paid subscribers to publications on their platform reached 1 million at the end of 2021. This was up from 250,000 at the end of 2020. What’s more, the top 10 publications bring in over $20million per year—not bad!

You can sell newsletter subscriptions using your MailerLite account.

There are two ways to make money with newsletters. The first is to offer it for free and sell ads or sponsorships. An example of this is The Hustle, which was so successful that HubSpot purchased the newsletter for $30 million dollars.

The second approach is to offer paid newsletters through a subscription. And guess what? You can do this in MailerLite! Usually, paid newsletters are based on niche topics with a very specific target audience. For example, Sinocism is a paid newsletter that talks about the business environment in China. On average people pay 10-20 USD/month for this newsletter.

sinocism paid newsletter example
Easy to get started

MailerLite also integrates with Stripe to make managing paid subscriptions effortless. 

How can I use this trend?
  • Start subscribing to some paid or popular newsletters to get inspiration and best practices for your own emails. See how they use referrals to grow their email lists, how they use surveys in emails and how they write engaging copy. For example, Morning Brew has a referral program that gets subscribers rewards when they get their friends to sign up and TheSkimm is about to launch a loyalty program brand new for 2022. 

  • Decide on a purpose, define your audience, and ensure that what you’re offering is unique and valuable. For a paid subscription to be successful, you need to provide subscribers with resources and insights that they can’t find elsewhere.

Here are some newsletters that are worth following:

Does the idea of a paid newsletter subscription pique your interest? Check out our guide to get started:

Transactional emails differ from marketing emails in that they are triggered by the recipient’s action, for example, by making a purchase or signing up to a service. They contain information that is unique to the recipient, are sent on a one-to-one basis, and are generally not promotional.

Because of this, transactional emails have much higher open rates than marketing emails—around 80-85%. This means they provide an excellent opportunity for brands to build relationships and increase customer engagement by showcasing their personality, sharing unique insights, and leaving personal notes. 

In 2021 businesses increasingly included commercial messaging in their transactional emails, for example, to upsell products or encourage people to engage in conversations.

Businesses are realizing the potential that transactional emails hold. It also doesn’t hurt that newer transactional email tools, like MailerSend, enable marketing teams to have more input on the content of their transactional emails with the ability to personalize one-to-one messaging.

Amazon does a good job of this by recommending related and previously viewed items in their order confirmation emails. With this approach, they are able to upsell products without making the commercial messaging too invasive for the transactional email.

amazon transactional email order confirmation with recommended items

And in this transactional email example from Ted Baker, they’ve injected some personality and humor into the order confirmation to make that human connection and reinforce their brand image.

ted baker order confirmation transactional email with humorous copy
How can I use this trend?
  • Use friendly, human language in your transactional emails—just because they’re automated, doesn’t mean it needs to sound robotic! Ensure that the purpose and contents of the email are clear and that any creative elements you add don’t interfere with that. Remember: commercial messaging is fine, but keep it to a minimum. 

  • Use personalization to connect with recipients. Address them by name so that they don’t feel like just another number (remember to have a failsafe in place to avoid any “Hello [name]” mishaps!). To maximize conversions make relevant recommendations based on purchase or browsing history. Your customers will thank you for it!

Think transactional emails are only for developers? Think again!

MailerSend enables anyone on the team to collaborate and easily customize their transactional emails without giving any extra work to the development team. Plus, with the user-friendly drag and drop builder, anyone can design beautiful transactional emails—no coding required!

No-code tools enable you to build websites and web apps without writing a single line of code—ideal for anyone that doesn't have the months/years and deep pockets needed to develop from scratch. 

Low-code on the other hand requires some technical knowledge, and is used by developers to make projects more efficient. With tons of businesses needing to adapt quickly, no-code and low-code have proven to be far from a fad. This year, the no-code movement is set to be worth $21.2 billion, up from $3.8 billion just 5 years ago, assuring that no-code and low-code are here to stay. 

As a growing number of businesses are realizing that no-code and low-code tools can increase efficiency and innovation, Gartner predicts that 75% of enterprise applications will soon be built with low-code tools. And instead of investing in all-in-one solutions, businesses are choosing to combine the best-in-breed tools to reach their marketing goals. 

No-code and low-code remove the challenges of coding, and opens up the barriers that many startups have when turning ideas into reality. Combined with the industry’s incredible growth, this is why we think this trend is definitely worth getting in on if you’re looking to optimize your current workflows and expand your horizons, without the need for intense coding skills.

MailerLite is thrilled to be a part of the no-code movement, integrating with Zapier to connect with over 4000+ apps.

How can I use this trend?
  • Think of the ways you can use no-code tools to automate your current processes or to create new solutions for your business

  • In early 2021, our friends—the no-code experts Ycode—introduced a new no-code web app builder that you might want to check out

Create your first no-code web app

Ycode is a new no-code web app builder tool that empowers you to create and host advanced web apps without writing any code or hiring developers.

Try it for free

In 2022, email marketing will continue to be the glue that connects your digital marketing channels as you find new ways to connect with customers and subscribers. Now is the time to think about how new mainstream trends such as paid newsletters and no-code software could help your business. Don’t be afraid to experiment and give each a try. You might find that new revenue opportunity. Happy emailing!

Have you heard of any other 2022 email marketing trends? Let us know in the comments below.

Jonas Fischer
Jonas Fischer
I'm Jonas, Content Manager at MailerLite. I’m not the 4th Jonas Brother, but I do write content (which is similar to being a teen heartthrob). After writing for a bunch of companies over the years, I discovered my professional passion—helping add some humanity to B2B marketing. Email is the perfect place to start!
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