2021 eCommerce Email Marketing Trends to Watch

Posted April 22, 2021

Every year sees new advances in how we communicate. But the hardest working work-horse, email, is advancing, too. Here are some of the most important trends in the eCommerce marketers’ favorite sales channel.

email marketing trends
2108 email marketing trends might really knock your socks off!

It seems that every year we return to the old marketing standby – email. The more it changes, the more it stays the same. And while email marketing has proven it’s worth, year after year, in 2021 and going forward, it’s also getting a lot smarter. You need to do so, too.

2021 Trends in Email Marketing

Below are eight of the things we’re expecting to see more and more of in the coming year.

1. Far Less Consistent Typography

This one surprised even us. Some of your best customers may not appreciate all of the design and typography you’ve been leveling at them. And we’ve seen a sizable percentage of them making the switch, when offered the choice, to plain-text emails.

While this tends to be true for older customers, there also tends to be a segment of programming and coding professionals who simply can’t be bothered with the niceties.

Regularly consulting with your clients should help you to learn, but you can also do some A/B testing with segments in your lists. The results will probably surprise you. Perhaps they shouldn’t because who among us in not getting “too much email.”

2. Better Branded Transactions

All that segmenting had to come to something. And one of the best places where it’s making things easier is in those boring, or otherwise “extra” emails you have to send out.  Bigger organizations and those doing more work offline, or outside of a purely digital environment, have led the way, but now even much smaller eCommerce start ups are taking advantage of thank yous and 3- or 6-month reminders.

 3. Better Segmentation Tools

All of that transactional wareness is only possible because segments are getting easier to identify and communicate with. While the big guys develop these changes on backend databases, eventually they all seep down to the MailChimp most eCommerce merchants are still relying on.

The good news is that lots more automation is finally becoming not only possible but also relatively easy.

 4. More Respect for Personal Data

This one really results from some of the transactions and segmentations we’re doing above, but it’s also one of those cheery, transctional email reminders, and not one that tends to turn people off. General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) changes go into effect in 28 European countries starting this May. And those are going to affect most other countries in the world. If you’re emailing to any one of those countries, you’ll want to be sending out those notices, already this year.

5. MicroSites in Your Email

While this flies in the face of the idea of plain-text, there will be a segment of your audience who are more than happy to answer quizzes, surveys, or similarly interactive tools right in their email. When kept short and sweet, we’ve seen dramatic increases in what you can know about your audience. They work even better for simply allowing you to get some good marketing done, whether with humor, information, or helpfulness.

 6. Smarter Personalization

This is going to be hugely important for lots of smaller eCommerce sellers. While keeping your customer’s name in there is to be expected, we’re also going to be using better tools to recommend products based on purchase histories, to send at more optimal times, and to keep non-segmented lists growing smaller and smaller.

Segmentation is just the starting point as lists will have to be better and better organized. Luckily, we’ll be seeing a lot more tools for doing just that.

7. AI-Enhanced Subject Lines

Because of mobile’s better open rates, we’ll continue to see shorter subject lines, but they’re also going to need to be customized for your segments. As those segments get more sophisticated, we’ll also be relying on smarter intelligence, including AI, to come up with subject lines that work. These will be tested, increasingly with automation, and often, we’ll only be sending out the optimized version.

 8. Experience

Finally, this one really comes from the Customer Experience model.

Filed under: Blog

Tagged with: Digital Marketing, Email Marketing, Social Media Marketing


James is a technology and marketing writer with 20 years experience in advertising, media relations, and eCommerce. His articles have appeared in numerous publications around the web.