Ilma from MailerLite

Ilma9 min readTips and resourcesDecember 13, 2019

5 email marketing trends for 2020 you haven’t seen yet

5 email marketing trends for 2020 you haven’t seen yet

Tis the season for lots and lots of email marketing trends for 2020. The good news: we’ve highlighted trends that will give you a fresh perspective for the new year.

We dug deep into what our customers are doing and analyzed how our own tactics are evolving. While doing our research, we found interesting themes that go beyond predicting the “hottest” new email features for next year. 

Instead, our 2020 email marketing trends focus on how you can use email marketing differently to grow your audience, engage in new ways and make extra revenue.

Get ready to try some new things in 2020! Here are our 5 email marketing trends.


1. Email to attract a broader audience

Email is mainly talked about as a marketing channel that’s great for building long-lasting relationships with your subscribers. While this is still true and important, email marketing is also becoming a channel that attracts new customers.

More and more brands are finding success in building their audience by creating newsletters that offer valuable content that people need. Instead of talking about the product, these companies provide knowledge and expertise around related topics. 

Robinhood, a pioneer of commission-free investing, is a company that offers more ways to make your money work harder. Their newsletter is called Robinhood Snacks, a 3-minute newsletter with fresh takes on the financial news you need to start your day.

Robinhood's daily dose of financial news newsletter - MailerLite

Personally, I love reading their daily financial newsletter and recommend it to everyone. Robinhood gets a lot of free high-quality traffic to their site through this tactic.

Another example is Goop, an e-shop that describes their business as “Cutting-edge wellness advice from doctors, vetted travel recommendations, and a curated shop of clean beauty, fashion and home.”

goop's curated newsletter about gift guides - MailerLite

Brands like Robinhood and Goop have widened their newsletter content. Instead of talking about the things they sell, they make it about related topics that provide value and attract new people interested in keeping up with that industry.

This approach helps you to stay connected with your customers, provides useful knowledge to a broader audience and gives everyone a reason to forward the email to a friend. 

Check out how the Morning Brew newsletter encourages their readers to refer new people in exchange for exclusive content. It's a smart way to broaden your audience.

morning brew's referral newsletter - MailerLite

At MailerLite, we frequently write about our new features and how to use them. From time to time, we include content about digital marketing or how we built our company. This approach is great for current customers. 

Next year, we plan to expand our topics and share more insights about our remote work culture and no-code products. We’ll have newsletters solely focused on those topics. If that makes you excited, then definitely stay tuned.

Takeaway

Ask yourself what business you’re in and what additional value could you bring to your audience.


2. Email marketing is a conversation 

More people now realize that email marketing is a two-way street. You should make it a habit to let people react to your newsletters. It doesn’t always have to be a reply-to email.

You can ask them to watch a video and comment, answer a survey in your newsletter or react to a social media post.

For example, you can include a fun quiz:

who is the hottest superhero quiz on a newsletter - MailerLite

Some companies include all the information in their email. So instead of a CTA “Read more,” they encourage readers to finish the entire email and then encourage another action, like to share the email on social media. See how Seth Godin uses this tactic:

seth godin's newsletter with social media sharing buttons - MailerLite

When you can respond to an email that a brand sent to thousands of other subscribers and get a personal reply back from the company, it's special. Email marketing is unique in this way. It doesn't get more engaging than that!

but.first.tea.blog's instagram post about first sent newsletter - MailerLite

The main thing is to listen and respond accordingly. If you ask questions and your customers answer, acknowledge the answers and continue the conversations. 

Takeaway

Always remember that there’s no B2C or B2B–it's only H2H (humans-to-humans). You write a message to another human being.


3. Email’s first-party data can work as a CRM

Did you know that your email marketing campaigns generate a lot of useful data that can be used to optimize future campaigns? Over 80% of small and medium-sized businesses rely on email as their primary customer acquisition channel.

It’s where you collect leads and nurture them. Email’s biggest advantage as a marketing tool is that you can automate the process. You can personalize your messages at scale. Moreover, you can track your users’ actions and build automated workflows that follow your sales funnel. 

All of these automated campaigns generate data that can be used to better understand your customer’s behaviors.

It all starts with segmenting your users. For example:

  • A subscriber but not a customer that constantly reads your emails
  • A subscriber but not a customer that doesn’t read emails
  • A customer that constantly reads your emails
  • A customer that never reads your emails

You can find your subscriber activity data in MailerLite and use it to segment your audience in smarter ways. 

what does subscriber activity data looks like in MailerLite - MailerLite
Subscriber profile data

These contact profiles give you an in-depth view of each customer, how they subscribed to your newsletters, what emails they clicked, whether they attended a webinar and how they rated your product. 

Takeaway

Use your data to profile and target your ideal customers and then build your email marketing strategy around it.


4. Rise of post-sale marketing 

A sale is not the end of your communication with your customers. It’s an opportunity to scale your business organically. If your customers love your product or service, they'll come back and/or might recommend it to their friends. 

Find ways to benefit from these valuable customers by treating them right and letting them promote your business for you. We call this the upside-down funnel.

upside down marketing funnel - MailerLite

Let's say you host an event like RUNREIGATE. Acknowledge your participants after the event by sending an email with personalized photos of them to extend the event with memories that make them feel special.

runreigate's newsletter with personalized photo of participants - MailerLite

After you show your loyal customers some good old lovin`, the next step is to give them the tools to spread that love. 

For example, once a year we send a Net Promoters Score (NPS) survey to our customers and give the happiest customers an incentive to share a review. Customers who clicked a 9 or 10 automatically receive an email with a request to write a review about MailerLite on G2Crowd and Shopify.

Your happy customers can help you grow your business, but you need to tell them exactly what you would like them to do. In our case, our happy customers helped increase our rating on G2Crowd from 4.1 to 4.6. 

Moreover, you can always use testimonials to build trust with your new customers. Welcome emails are a great place to do this. 

Takeaway

Building a relationship with your audience is a process. Continue the conversation with your customers after the sale and give them the tools to spread the love about your business.


5. Sponsored emails: A new revenue stream

For the past 200 years, marketing has always been seen as a cost-center. Meaning, companies considered their marketing as an expense and hoped to get the best ROI possible.

What if you could actually turn your marketing into a profit-center that makes money?

Having an engaged community that reads your emails is an asset. We see more and more businesses that are based solely on their newsletters. Some charge subscribers for the newsletter, while others like The Hustle sell sponsorships:

The Hustle's sponsored email newsletter for ViewSonic - MailerLite

Another newsletter that uses sponsorships is theSkimm. Check out this personal touch where they wish subscribers a happy birthday in every newsletter. This type of public praise is a smart way to build loyalty and make email subscribers feel special.

Skimm'rs email saying how to get featured in newsletter - MailerLite

If you have a newsletter that is gaining a lot of traction and has a loyal audience, you can look into sponsorship opportunities or other ways to monetize your email marketing. 

Another interesting approach that is not directly a sponsorship is to provide exclusive content to your subscribers that support you financially. 88 Cups of Tea, an online platform and podcast for creative writers, offers special content for people who support them on the crowdfunding platform, Patreon.

88 Cups of tea's exclusive email newsletter for Patreon supporters - MailerLite
Takeaway

People are searching for great content. If you can provide it to your community, it has the potential to be a stand-alone business.


What other 2020 email marketing trends have you heard about that are worth sharing?

Ilma Nausedaite

Hi, I’m Ilma, COO at MailerLite. I love seeing our customers succeed. When they win, we win (like being named one of the top 5 fastest growing SaaS companies). Email is my passion, although I took a rather unusual path. Before MailerLite, I worked in finance and art, which turned out to be the perfect mix for marketing.