Email Marketing
Email Marketing

Email Marketing Strategy in 2020

Litmus helps you craft an effective email marketing strategy by talking through the standout trends they've been seeing. Read the insights and download the data.

Cynthia Price

VP of Marketing


The death of email marketing channels has been announced—and re-announced—for more than a decade now, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In a time where most marketers struggle to break through the noise and need to fight for their audience’s attention, the overwhelming majority of email marketers saw email engagement grow in the last 12 months:

of marketers have seen an increase in email engagement over the last 12 months

HubSpot Research, Global Survey, Nov - Dec 2019

Consumers continue to prefer connecting with brands via email, and email marketers are seeing their email ROI skyrocket, with the latest numbers coming in at $42 to $1.

Email ROI by Industry (Per $1 Spent)

Smart marketers have noticed email isn’t slowing down anytime soon, and they’re willing to put their money where the results are. Our research revealed that 49.5% of marketers planned on raising their email marketing budget in 2019, so companies who don’t at least match the efforts of their competitors could risk falling behind.

But where should you focus your efforts? In three crucial areas: integration, segmentation, and experimentation.

Integration: Start Breaking Out of Your Email Marketing Silo

With the right tools, email marketing is your most measurable channel. You can measure overall campaign performance—like open, click-through, and conversion rates—but an email address as a unique identifier also lets you get a glimpse into each subscriber’s behavior and preferences. Plus, your subscribers have actively opted into hearing from you; they’re looking to learn about your brand, your product, and your promotions. 

Your email subscribers and the insights you have on campaign performance are unique and invaluable resources that have the power to inform and optimize marketing activities across the organization. But too often, those learnings don’t make it across the borders of the email team. 73% of marketers consider email important to their companies’ success, but a third of marketers don’t consider email to be integrated with the rest of their marketing program. That’s a missed opportunity.

How well is email integrated with your other marketing channels?

Pie Chart above from Litmus Research, 2019

Many components of your emails can inform other marketing channels. A subject line triggered more opens than ever? Maybe similar language can drive results on paid promotions. A post in your newsletter got more clicks than any other content piece? Your content team will love those insights to help shape future content. Start breaking out of the email marketing silo and share your learnings and collaborate across teams by implementing routines like these:

  1. Make email reporting dashboards accessible to everyone to make it easy for your team to see which campaigns resonated with your audience—and which didn’t.
  2. When reporting on email results, start a habit of writing up what campaign learnings might be interesting for other teams. Not sure where to start? Looking at the past year’s email performance can be a valuable exercise. This template can help.

Set up monthly meetings with leaders across marketing channels so you can share key learnings from email—and to get insights from other channels that can inform future email campaigns.

Segmentation: Death to Batch and Blast Campaigns

Sending one-size-fits-all campaigns to all of your subscribers with no consideration for who your subscribers are, what they’re interested in, and where they are in your brand’s life cycle has no place in email marketing anymore.

Only the companies and brands that create human connection are going to succeed. This is extremely true with email. You might get short term benefits from very promotional content, but honest, human, and personalized content creates a following for the long term.
Henni Roini's headshot

Henni Roini

Marketing Manager EMEA

Email segmentation and personalization takes messages that could be generic and turns them into ultra-targeted marketing and sales machines. The simplest place to start is by adding subscribers’ names, but don’t let that be the end of your strategy. Ask subscribers for their preferences and take advantage of customer behavior and insights—like geolocation, past purchases, customer status, third-party data, and more—to make their experience as bespoke as possible. This email from AirBnB is an excellent example of providing a valuable and personal email experience by using a subscriber's trip information, like date and destination. According to HubSpot’s research, message personalization is one of the most popular email marketing tactics for marketers to leverage:

What tactics are you using to increase email performance?

Experimentation: Continue to Try New Things and Iterate on Your Process.

There’s a misconception that the email channel hasn’t really changed in decades, but email is constantly evolving and changing. Best practices come and go as subscriber preferences shift, policies change, and inbox providers evolve their products. If you’re looking to build a successful email program, you must adapt to these changes. 

Embracing new trends and experimenting with new techniques in email takes time and effort—but it also gives brands the opportunity to stand out in a crowded inbox. Here are three crucial trends that email marketers can’t ignore: 

  • Interactive Emails are becoming more popular, and it’s easy to see why. The concept takes static messages and turns them into an entire experience within the inbox, creating more accessible, and often, more fun experiences. 23% of brands have already experimented with interactive elements in email, an additional 32% are planning on trying it soon. Even small interactive elements like hover effects and can have a major impact and uplevel your subscribers’ experience.
  • Dark Mode reverses the typical online color and brightness scheme. Instead of darker type on lighter backgrounds, Dark Mode uses light-colored typography, UI elements, and iconography on dark backgrounds.
  • AMP for Email (Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages Project) is a new markup specification that can be added on top of traditional HTML emails to provide extra functionality in the inbox. Ever get an email notification when someone commented on your Google Doc? Notice how you can now comment back directly in Gmail, providing feedback without ever leaving your inbox? That’s AMP for Email in action.

Not sure if your audience will like something new? Don’t forget to A/B test. There’s no better way to learn fast and constantly improve than through testing and experimentation. Brands that make A/B testing and email experiments a priority are proven to see results. Our research shows companies that A/B test every email see email marketing returns that are 37% higher than those of brands that never include A/B tests. If you’re looking to try out a different style of subject line, email design, and more, an A/B test can help you pick the most successful option. Remember to limit your A/B tests to one thing at a time and ensure that your testing groups are large enough that your results will be statistically significant.

Take a Deep-Dive Into the State of Email

From crucial inbox updates to new privacy laws, Litmus’ 2020 State of Email Report analyzes the significant data, trends, and key industry updates from the past year and breaks down how they will impact your email program in the new email decade. Dive deeper into HubSpot's survey data by clicking the download button on the banner below. 

Editor's note: This article was researched in December 2019 and January 2020, and was originally published in early February 2020. A lot has changed in the world since then, so keep that in mind as your process these trends and data. 

By Cynthia Price

VP of Marketing

Litmus, a leading email company, helps you craft a bulletproof email marketing strategy and navigate the trends they see that will make you an email stud this year. Read the insights and download the data.

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