So, New Year's eve has long passed, and everybody is picking up where they left off - conquering new audiences to fuel the sales funnel. Every new year brings new possibilities, new tensions, problems, and discoveries, which means you have a lot to unpack.
But there is no reason to fear the unknown. We're here to inform you about the inevitable trends, the juiciest opportunities, and the most probable pitfalls, so you could spend less time investigating and dedicate more days in January to building or adjusting your B2B email marketing strategy.
So, what’s the first thing you need to know?
The relevance of email marketing has grown
On the one hand, it’s like stating that the water is wet. On the other hand, the behavior of consumers and decision-makers has changed drastically in a matter of two years, and this fact can’t be ignored. Around 80% of consumers admitted that they would continue consuming products and services on digital platforms because they found this approach to services a lot more convenient.
That means that more competition will be coming your way, and they will exploit every weakness in your campaign. Your email templates are hard to read on a smartphone? Then a chunk of your audience will switch to the company with more mobile-friendly emails.
Did you stop warming up your domain? You end up not being able to keep up with the intensity of hot season campaigns.
You didn’t inject more brand recognition into your domain with BIMI? You leave the competition instantly - with the rise of spammers and spoofers, people won’t pay attention to senders that don’t have their brand logo in the preview.
We're only scratching the surface right now. If you want to really equip your B2B marketing campaigns for upcoming challenges, let's explore several email marketing trends of 2022 in greater detail.
Privacy is a serious matter
This is less of a trend and more of a lifestyle for everybody using email for casual or business purposes. In the modern world, personal safety goes beyond getting good locks and proper security service for your house. Now it includes protecting your intellectual property, your valuable digital information, and your online communication. We've already mentioned how dangerous phishing is to modern B2B email marketing - cybercriminals may resort to invading the lives of your employees and clients, blackmail them for access to financial data or use your good name to siphon money from your account.
This is a serious matter, so right now, your target audience is particularly attentive to the vendor’s ability to protect the privacy of their clients and make sure none of the customer data units are leaked or used for malicious purposes.
What should you do?
- Work with reliable email service providers. Most well-known services for sending emails do their best to provide users with top-level security and protection from spammers and phishers. Gmail has a flexible system that evolves with the users' feedback and constantly updates the behavior patterns of cybercriminals to recognize and neutralize them before they cause damage. You want your emails to be well-received by such providers, so you must constantly expand your knowledge about existing services and security measures they take.
- Refine the ethics within your company. When you onboard new team members, you must educate them on the importance of processing customer data correctly. Show them how they should exchange sensitive customer information within the company, make sure they use complicated passwords for their inboxes and run two-factor authentication, and don't leave the data they were entrusted with open access. Make sure that your employees won't fall victim to the spearhead spoofing by telling them to never answer and open emails that are allegedly sent by you and a) ask to make a financial transaction, b) demand to submit private client data due to an emergency, c) require them to take any action relating to handing over vital information or document.
- Always check and read your DMARC reports. A DMARC policy is here to instantly alert you when something is awry. If your messages start failing authentication checks, you must know how it happens and why it happens. So, set your policy to “quarantine” or “reject” and don’t forget to monitor the generated reports. Nipping the issue in the bud is less of a hassle than trying to restore your domain reputation.
Suppose you need to buy some food for the weekend, and there are two local stores nearby. One is a well-lit place with cameras, security, and anti-theft scanners at each exit. The other one has poor lighting, only one elderly security guard, no surveillance, and teems with shady people who loiter around without buying anything, and their eyes are seemingly glued to you and your purse.
Which supermarket would you choose? We think the answer is obvious.
This is how it works for email marketing, too. When users know they can trust you with their data because you are transparent, ethical, and readily contribute to combating spoofing and phishing, they are willing to choose you over your competitors.
Emails are becoming interactive
Procrastination and short attention spans are quite common nowadays, especially when people find themselves confined to their homes from time to time due to lockdowns. They are hungry for new experiences and sensations while feeling burdened by their everyday tasks. You can't fight it. The good news is that you don't even have to.
As the saying goes, “if you can’t beat‘em, join’em.”
Instead of forcing your recipients to go through a static email, make things more exciting for them. This is what interactivity is for!
AMP has been slowly incorporating itself into email campaigns since 2016. However, its elements were quite complex and weren't supported by all email clients, which led to issues with such services as Outlook.
But recently, carousel images, embedded videos, and fancy sliders became a lot more popular among users. Some brands that adopted interactivity into their email campaigns saw their engagement rate increase at least by 35%.
Dynamic email elements offer more entertainment to users: whether it’s being able to view color schemes for a product without having to visit a website or watching a fun video, they add some brightness to their mundane activities, so users show their appreciation by interacting with the brand and subscribing to its newsletters.
Therefore, interactive emails allow you to make recipients spend more time exploring your email, increase the chances of them clicking a link, coming to your website, and ultimately discovering a need for your product. In other words, you manage to introduce them to your sales funnel at a much faster rate. That reason alone is enough for you to start mastering interactive emails and injecting them into your sales channel.
What can you do with interactive emails as a B2B sender?
- Educate your recipients. In our case, we dedicate a lot of time to explaining DNS records, DMARC policy, and email authentication to our customers - it's a very complicated subject to anyone who isn't specialized in mailbox engineering and navigating through SMTP, so we constantly look for new ways to introduce the basics and make them as comprehensible as possible. This is why we started working on the concept of short explainer videos and comic stripes that would let us outline the most important information about email authentication protocols and other processes behind email outreach. Interactive emails would make it easier for our recipients to explore the subject and memorize the most important steps of generating and maintaining DNS records.
There are some aspects of your work that your target audience would benefit from if it gets to know them better. An interactive message will make it possible for you to break down the most complicated parts for your recipients and make it all fun. As long as you have an art director or know a great artist, you can run wild and design small stories that help more people make sense of your services.
- Promote new services. If you expand your arsenal for 2022, you must introduce your target audience to the update and be as impressive as possible. This is where interactive email can let you shine. Build an interactive infographic, make a small presentation about the upcoming service or product, let recipients muse over potential benefits, and enjoy high engagement rates - the possibilities are promising and outright too delicious to ignore. You only need to outline a structure for your service promotion to make sure that your email doesn't have too many obnoxious elements and there is a clear path for recipients to follow.
- Amp up your personalization. Yes, your success still depends on your ability to tailor your emails to the needs and interests of each segment of your target audience. Interactive emails let you take personalization a bit further and build a message that would appeal to every recipient in its own way. If you are a niche vendor with a relatively small customer base, this approach can do wonders for your marketing campaigns. You can entertain your loyal customers with an end-of-the-year summary reflecting on their buyer behavior, their personal achievements, and celebrating their success or showing the animation of their roadmap. Of course, the latter takes a very capable art director and web developer, but the end result is definitely worth it.
Of course, interactive email marketing strategy has its downsides. The more interactive elements you add to your template, the higher is the risk of it not being supported by your recipients' email service providers. Instead of getting a comprehensible email, users will see a bunch of numbers and characters - given that their email service won't send your message to spam. It's still an issue across multiple email-sending platforms, so we suggest using code fallbacks to compensate for the lack of interactivity support at services like Outlook.
Email marketing strategies are redefined by the Apple iOS update in 2021
Being mobile-friendly is essential for your email marketing campaigns. Just to give you an idea of how important mobile compatibility is, when a user sees a “sent from iPhone” note under the email, they instantly feel at ease, knowing that they got a message from a legitimate sender.
This is why you must pay close attention to all updates that can turn the tables on your email marketing strategy. For example, the iOS 15 update in September 2021 introduced the change capable of considerably impacting email deliverability.
With the update expected to come sometime in the fall anywhere from September through November, Apple users will now be able to:
- Hide their IP addresses
- Turn off open tracking
- Hide their email addresses
When you remember that around 90% of emails are opened on iPhones and Apple makes up to 58% of the email marketing audience, you can imagine how big this change is. Open data is very important to any email marketing strategy - your engagement rates, re-marketing activities, and deliverability tracking depends on it. With users being able to conceal their IP data and contact data, email marketing experts won't be able to receive clear information and will have to adjust their approach to gathering data.
- Prioritize click rates. Email marketing strategies take click rates into account already - they are the main way of gathering MQLs and nurturing them into customers. With the recent changes, you should pay this metric even more attention and focus your email marketing campaigns on motivating your prospects to share their contact data and interact with your content.
- Start practicing the omnichannel approach. Omnichannel is the way of the future. Whether you work in a B2C or a B2B area, you must use all channels to grab your prospects' attention and glean engagement. Video marketing, social media interactions, and email marketing must combine their efforts to provide the most wholesome user experience and build an image of a brand that is fully in control and supplies its clients with high-quality interactions regardless of the channel.
- Look into your engaged customers. The activity of your buyers and customers matters as never before. Take a close look at your purchase activity and segment the list of your engaged users depending on their current sales funnel stage. This will give you some insights about targeting your audience and the challenges you should overcome to make your conversion a bit smoother.
In general, the key idea is to show your target audience that sharing their contact data is worth it. Reward them for every little step towards you, show a constant yet non-obtrusive presence on every marketing channel and never fail to provide some help and entertainment without demanding anything in return. Modern email marketing strategies are mostly about giving, not taking.
Email marketing campaign challenges in 2022: key takeaways
The year 2022 continues to expose the ever-growing demand for safety, privacy, entertainment, and creativity. Your target audience is very protective of their private data and gets bored quickly. It's up to you to satisfy their needs by injecting more interactivity into your email marketing campaigns and doing your best to assure your recipients that their data is safe.
Keeping up with the latest security updates, working with reliable email service providers, helping your team maintain email safety guidelines, and timely informing your recipients about the latest changes in your data privacy politics will help you make your brand reliable and trustworthy.
Meanwhile, letting your imagination run wild by adding more interactive elements to your email templates and offering more entertainment value on social media platforms and via video marketing will let you highlight the most attractive aspects of your company and introduce your key benefits in the most presentable way possible.
In other words, maintaining a balance between safety and creativity should be your main course when you work on your email marketing strategy - starting with monitoring your email authentication protocols and ending with providing users with timely updates, respecting their privacy, and always offering something of value in exchange for sharing their contact data.
We hope that this blog post is a good introduction to the latest trends and challenges of email marketing of 2022. If you're curious to see whether your email security protocols are prepared for the new campaigns, don't hesitate to run a mailbox audit and a domain health test!