Marketing

10 Click-Worthy Email Marketing Trends for 2021

Ready to nail your email marketing strategy? Here are the top 10 hottest email marketing trends blowing up our inboxes right now.

Portrait for Kelsie Rimmer By Kelsie Rimmer
Posted 12 May 2021
Email Marketing Trends 2021

The uncertainty of 2020 impacted almost every industry and discipline across the world – and email marketing wasn’t exempt. Throughout the global pandemic, many brands shifted their strategies to digitally connect and communicate with their communities. As a result, email marketing got an unexpected boost and new email trends & templates began to emerge. 

Alongside social media, email has become a go-to communication and marketing channel for businesses looking to engage with customers who they may have ordinarily – outside of lockdown – interacted with face-to-face. As a result, the amount of emails sent out globally increased by 45% year on year. And now, in 2021, email marketers are sending 27% more emails than they did pre-pandemic

While email has always been an important part of digital marketing, it is now considered mission critical… so if you’re not doing it, you 100% should be! This popularity of email marketing has spurred on the emergence of some exciting new email marketing trends – presenting the perfect opportunity for marketers to revamp and realign their email marketing strategies.

If you’re looking to optimize your email marketing campaigns, you can access all the digital creative assets you need with a single subscription to Envato Elements. From mobile optimization and accessibility to eye-catching animated elements, everything you need to create super effective and clickable email campaigns is right at your fingertips. 

Ready to nail your email marketing strategy? From newsletters and plain-text emails to social integration and hyper-personalization, here are the top 10 hottest email marketing trends blowing up our inboxes in 2021…

1. Newsletters

A tried and tested format that’s older than the internet itself, newsletters have long been the cornerstone of any email marketing strategy. And now that email newsletters are 40 times more effective in acquiring new customers than Facebook and Twitter combined, it’s easy to see why! 

However, emails have become more than just a conversion tool. They also provide an opportunity to share stories, offer business insights, and connect with your audience to demonstrate that you care. 

Using your newsletters to curate bite-sized news, industry updates and thought leadership pieces is a great way to add value to your subscribers. By including summaries of stories and linking out to reputable sources, you can instantly offer information that’s compelling, digestible and relevant.

TLDR - Email Marketing Trends

A great example of an email newsletter done right is from tldr Marketing. Aimed at digital marketing professionals, it rounds up a range of articles from a number of publishers spanning the topics of SEO, social media and paid media. Clean, clear and easy to scan, this style of newsletter provides a headline, an introduction and an eye-catching image, which immediately draws in the reader and encourages them to click and learn more.

TLDR - Email Marketing Trends

Any must-read email begins with a great structure, which is where newsletter templates come in. For example, this modern, monochromatic Rockefeller Creative Email Template by giantdesign is sure to stand out in any inbox. Using a minimalist design style and black and white blocks, it accentuates important info while also leaving plenty of room for imagery and icons. Find more like this within email templates on Envato Elements.

2. Mobile Optimization

In this day and age, mobile optimization is crucial for any email marketing campaign. With 47% of people across all demographics using a mobile application to check their email, it’s more important than ever to ensure that all of your customers have the same great experience when viewing your email – no matter where they check it!

“We all know what a bad mobile experience is like – pinch zooming, tiny text and bad alignment,” explains Envato digital designer, Ryan Turgoose. “In today’s modern smartphone market, this kind of practice is becoming unacceptable and can quickly make your designs feel dated.  One piece of advice – always test your designs on a real phone, desktop mock-ups can only get you so far.”

One piece of advice – always test your designs on a real phone, desktop mock-ups can only get you so far.

Ryan Turgoose, Envato Digital Designer

For example, Jetstar have done a great job of optimizing their emails for mobile. Both their desktop and mobile versions are identical, including promotional deals and passenger information, but the viewing experience has been perfectly tailored to fit the device in hand. Thanks to their use of a responsive email template, the information is easy to read, the design is consistent and there are no issues or glitches as you scroll.

Jetstar email

Using a responsive template is the easiest way to make sure your emails are mobile-friendly and optimized for a range of devices and email clients. This Converse – Responsive Email Template by masketer_id available on Envato Elements is compatible with a range of popular email providers, from Apple Mail to Yahoo. Plus, the drag and drop email editor allows you to customize colors, images and add text and call to action buttons.

3. Email Personalization

Many brands have begun incorporating personalization into their marketing strategies, from social media to display advertising, to wow their audience and stand out in the crowded digital space. And it’s just as big a trend for email marketing! In fact, email recipients are 26% more likely to click on a message in their inbox if it includes a personalized subject line, while personalized calls to action are two times more effective than generic calls to action.

“Hyper-Personalization goes far beyond adding a user’s first name to an email,” says Sarah Dickinson, Envato Email Marketing Specialist. “It’s leveraging the data you have to add value to a customers’ experience. Reach them with the right message on the things they care about, at the right time.”

It’s leveraging the data you have to add value to a customers’ experience. Reach them with the right message on the things they care about, at the right time.

Sarah Dickinson, Envato Email Marketing Specialist

But unless you have unlimited time and resources to consistently deliver highly relevant and personalized content to your customers, the easiest way to deliver a personalized message is through email automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI). 

Airbnb

For example, Airbnb’s Kind Cards are designed to inspire guests to connect with their hosts and provide positive feedback via personalized email. After their stay, Airbnb guests receive an email reminder to write a review or send a customized note of appreciation. 

grammarly

Meanwhile, Grammarly’s approach to personalization centres around a detailed breakdown of user data. Automatically generating weekly progress reports containing helpful hints specific to each person, users can see the ins and outs of their weekly Grammarly usage – including how many words they wrote, their levels of accuracy and vocabulary development. 

4. Social Integration

Over the last decade, social media has become a key channel for marketers wanting to engage both existing and potential customers. With an estimated 3.2 billion social media users worldwide, a number that’s reportedly growing by 100 million daily, more and more brands are beginning to integrate social media into their email marketing campaigns. 

Whether it be linking to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn or featuring the kinds of posts the reader can expect to see on a brand’s social channels, social integration can be a great way to stay relevant, stay connected and grow your social media following. 

Recess

A brand that does this well is beverage company Recess, who shine a spotlight on their ‘post of the moment’ in their emails. Featuring a retro 80s design as well as a trendy Instagram feed, this email is a perfect example of cross-channel content promotion.

Recess

Social media integration also presents an opportunity to celebrate your customers by featuring user generated content (UGC). Moment often feature UGC in their emails, giving their social media followers a moment in the spotlight by simply adding #shotonmoment to their Instagram posts. 

To learn more about how you can use social media to your advantage, read up on all the top Social Media Trends for 2021, including short-form video, social commerce, augmented reality and personalized marketing.

5. Testimonials & Reviews

Word-of-mouth is arguably the most effective form of marketing on the planet. In fact, 90% of people are more likely to trust a brand if it’s recommended through word-of-mouth – even from strangers! With nearly 95% of shoppers now reading online reviews before buying, testimonials have transformed the way consumers behave online.

TLDR: customer and user feedback – whether it be written reviews, follow-up calls, surveys or peer-to-peer reviews from sites like Yelp and Trustpilot – is a marketing goldmine just waiting to be discovered. So, why not feature it in your email or newsletter for all your subscribers to see? 

Magic spoon

Magic Spoon – the creators of childhood cereals for health-conscious adults – keep their emails short, sweet and packed full of word-of-mouth marketing. Within an email almost entirely made up of customer reviews and endorsements, they capitalize on this strategy with a clear call to action to ‘Shop Now’.

Magic spoon

If you want to display your positive feedback for all to see, do it in style with a newsletter template that includes a testimonials and reviews section – like this App Email Campaign Newsletter Template by coverry from Themeforest. Compatible with email platforms such as MailChimp and StampReady, it’s designed to showcase all your best reviews while also including related links to your blog or website. 

6. Animation

TLDR - Notification Email Sets + Animated Icons by webtunes

One of the big video trends and web design trends pegged for 2021, animation is now infiltrating email marketing. Thanks to the addition of GIFs, animated backgrounds, animated icons and typography and CSS animation, it’s now super easy to create a truly moving email campaign. CSS animation even enables you to animate transitions – allowing one element of your email to transform seamlessly into another. 

“If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video must be worth a million,” says Ryan. “Animation can be an amazing story-telling tool that can breathe life into an otherwise stale email design. Though, less is always more – use animation wisely.  If everything is moving and flashing then your users aren’t going to have a clue what action to take.”

Animation can be an amazing story-telling tool that can breathe life into an otherwise stale email design

Ryan Turgoose, Envato Digital Designer

Plenty of brands are now adding small touches of animation to their newsletters to catch their readers’ attention. For example, Uber’s Halloween campaign features just a few simple animations – such as bats flying across a full moon and a car’s headlights illuminating a black cat – but they’re incredibly effective in grabbing the eye. Meanwhile, animated backgrounds frame your entire email content within the animation itself – like this other Uber example featuring dancing festive background icons.  

Uber Christmas email animated

Finally, these hover animations from this ‘On The Lighter Side’ newsletter from Litmus demonstrate a more interactive approach to animation. Brought to life by the reader, these little animations will only move once the cursor crosses over them. 

Often including animated and interactive elements and components, interactivity is another trend taking over email this year. Making modern app functionality available within email, this format allows recipients to interact dynamically with content directly in the message, being done by brands such as AMP.

To start experimenting with animated icons and HTML templates, check out these TLDR – Notification Email Sets + Animated Icons by webtunes on ThemeForest. Featuring 14 responsive email templates with a variety of bright color themes, smooth gradients and animated GIFs, they’ll have you animating your emails in no time.

7. Brand Storytelling

Every marketer knows that the key to any successful campaign is a strong and recognizable brand – and a big element of this is brand storytelling. Emails present a perfect opportunity for businesses to show their audiences who they are and what they stand for. 

Vimeo did a great job of this in their 20 stories of 2020 email, celebrating its community of film-makers by featuring their work and the stories behind it. As you might expect, this example is a highly visual piece of brand storytelling and includes animated elements and hover effects. 

Vimeo - 20 stories of 2020 email

While email is undoubtedly a key marketing tool, it’s important for brands to tell their stories across all their online channels. To learn more about building your brand, check out our analysis of Marketing Trends for 2021.

8. Plain Text Emails

If you want to get your message across plain and simple – then this trend might be for you! While complex HTML emails featuring all the bells and whistles can certainly be eye-catching, many marketing experts are endorsing the simple effectiveness of the plain-text email. An HTML email usually contains a melting pot of colors, images and formatting elements, but a plain text-email is as simple as it gets: words only. 

The stripped back, static nature of plain-text emails removes all superfluous elements and cuts straight to the point – pulling on the minimalist design style that is very trendy right now. 

Plain text email example

For example, this email from Amsterdam-based startup Framer looks more like an online letter than a marketing email. Its no-nonsense approach is clear and compelling, including nothing but a few bullet points, a handful of links and a friendly sign-off. What more do you really need? When in doubt, KISS: keep it simple stupid!

9. Accessibility

Making your emails accessible to everyone is perhaps the most important trend to keep in mind when planning your campaigns. It’s crucial to ensure everyone can not only receive, but understand your message – regardless of ability, demographic or device. Some simple things to consider are including easy-to-read text and clear images, as well as using typeface, font size and color intelligently to create a great user experience. 

A trend that’s absolutely dominating graphic and web design trends at the moment, Dark Mode is a great step towards creating accessible emails. Dark mode is easier on the eyes, and also increases contrast to help lighter-colored objects stand out.

“Dark mode is great for reducing battery usage and decreasing strain to the reader’s eyes,” explains Ryan. “Outside of practical reasons, dark mode can even just provide a different aesthetic to keep things feeling fresh. Although, maintaining minimum color contrast ratios is critical for readability, which can sometimes be harder to achieve with dark mode designs. Keep an eye on contrast and make sure users can actually read your content.”

Outside of practical reasons, dark mode can even just provide a different aesthetic to keep things feeling fresh.

Ryan Turgoose, Envato Digital Designer

Apple’s campaign for their AirPods Pro earphones features a dark mode design, alongside minimal imagery, white sans serif text and neon accents to make these elements shine.

Apple Airpods

To try out dark mode in your next newsletter design, check out this Play – Responsive APP Email Template by DynamicXX from Envato Elements. Featuring bold text boxes and plenty of empty space, you can avoid the risk of distracting your reader while highlighting key information with bright color blocks and clear call to action buttons.

10. Authenticity

As the internet continues to grow and evolve exponentially, authenticity has become an incredibly important element of marketing. It’s all about balancing customer growth with keeping your current subscriber base inspired, entertained and valued to continue to build trust in your brand.

National Geographic

One of the best ways to do this, is to be open and transparent with your audience. A great example of this is National Geographic’s Planet or Plastic campaign, demonstrating their authentic commitment to their readers by sending out emails supporting causes close to the organization’s heart. 

National Geographic

National Geographic continues to maintain its authenticity by sharing its incredible editorial resources, like in this Photos of the Century email featuring curated photographs around themes of wildlife, science and the environment. They also send out a round-up of the year’s top stories, sharing what truly resonated with other readers. 

We hope you enjoyed our top email marketing trends for 2021! While you’re here, don’t forget to check out our Marketing Trends 2021, Social Media Trends 2021 and our Web Design Trends for 2021