- Open rates since September are grossly overstated and unreliable.
- You need to verify that your emails look good in dark mode. Especially check the appearance of logos.
- New technologies, such as open-time dynamic content and interactive emails are interesting, but nothing to worry about now.
A number of experts have identified email marketing trends for 2022. I’ve narrowed the list down to those that I think are likely to have the most impact on out-of-home entertainment attractions.
In my previous post (Email Marketing Trends for 2022), I covered personalization, micro-segmentation/CDP, an increased focus on first-party data collection, and automation. Those are frankly the ones you should be thinking about most to drive your retention strategy forward. The remaining trends are interesting but won’t make or break your business.
Open Rates Aren’t Reliable in 2022
Apple made a change last September that makes it appear that ALL emails received on iOS devices (iPhones and iPads) have been opened. While iOS device holders don’t have to turn on this privacy protection feature, apparently 97% are doing so.
Given that 50% of emails are received/viewed on iOS devices, it is going to make your open rates look awesome. If previously your open rates were 10-20%, now you can expect to see open rates of 30-40%. These are not your real open rates.
On the flip side, your click-to-open rates are going to start to look a lot worse. Click-to-open refers to the proportion of those who open that click through to your website. It is (was?) a key indicator of how impactful your email content is. Because the number of opens is inflated, it means that this ratio is going to look a lot more deflated.
This also means that any A/B testing you conduct with subject lines and preheader text is going to be flawed and unreliable.
How to Deal With Open Rates in 2022
Most experts will tell you that you should de-emphasize open rates and click-to-open rates as KPIs and focus on other measures of email engagement, such as clickthrough rates, conversion rates, and forward/sharing rates. Another option is to include more interactive features in your emails like surveys and polls.
You should be more thoughtful about A/B subject line testing. Yes, it should still work — after all, the number of users in your “A” group and your “B” group should probably be about the same, which means that the winning subject line is likely still the winner. But if you are seeing weird results compared to what you’ve gotten in the past with the same subject lines, you may want to stick with your old results.
Better Dark Mode Support
In 2019, Apple announced native availability of “dark mode” for all iOS 13 and iPadOS devices. Given that over 90% of consumers have expressed a preference for dark mode over “light” mode, it’s something you really need to take into consideration when you’re designing your emails.
In late 2021, Email on Acid found that only about 44% of marketers consider dark mode during email production. Only a little more than half test/preview their emails in dark mode before launching their campaigns.
The largest issue — the biggest concern — for email marketers is the impact that dark mode has on their logos and images since a transparent logo designed for a light background rarely translates well on a dark background. Another big challenge is the effort (and additional labor) it takes to do the coding to get the emails to look right.
How To Deal With Dark Mode in 2022
At the very least, you should check your emails on a dark mode device to make sure that logos and images are coming across OK. If they aren’t you should work with your email template designer to find some way to ensure that your brand isn’t being compromised every time an email goes out.
Email on Acid has a great article on the issues that companies have with their logos in dark mode and ideas on how you can fix it.
Open-Time Dynamic Email Content
These last two trends aren’t particularly important and likely won’t make that big a splash in 2022. However, they’re worth knowing about since you may be able to find some opportunities to leverage them if you’re ever looking for a fun engagement idea and have some time to figure them out.
Open-time dynamic content lets you change/impact the content of an email you send someone after it’s already been delivered. It’s usually done through graphics since if you change the graphic at its source it will change what people see in their emails (there is no way to change the text in an email unless that text is actually embedded in a graphic).
Countdown timers in emails are probably one of the most prevalent examples of open-time dynamic email content. Another is the ability to change the displayed price of your product, or a graphic showing the weather near your venue. If you’re a retail e-commerce site that sells products, another great application of this technology is to switch out products depending on whether or not they are in stock.
Some email service providers who open-time dynamic email capabilities make a really big deal out of it. “What happens if someone opens your email two weeks later, and the sale price you’re offering isn’t the same anymore?” But the reality is that almost all of your recipients will open your email within the first 3-4 hours of receiving it. And it is unlikely that someone who opens an email three weeks later is reasonably going to expect that your email is still valid, especially if there is a deadline right in the email.
Open-time dynamic content rendering is a neat trick, but given the effort that it requires to set it up, it’s probably not worth it.
The only exception, in my opinion, are countdown timers. These are very effective at driving urgency and getting people to act.
Interactive Email Content
Google recently introduced something called AMP for Email that allows you to create interactive experiences within your emails. Essentially, you can allow recipients to engage with your email as if they were on a web page: they can push buttons, receive updates, and even submit surveys without even leaving their email client.
The challenge is that right now this technology only works for Gmail and only on the Gmail web platform and the Gmail mobile app. If your recipients are using any other email clients (such as the default email app on the iPhone or Outlook) they will not be able to experience the interactivity.
My recommendation is that for the time being you avoid dedicating any resources to creating interactive emails. It might make for a fun promotion, but you have to keep in mind that the majority of your guests won’t see it.
In the end, the success of your campaigns is going to be about creating good, relevant content that appeals to and adds value to your recipients. Some of these trends — such as personalization and automation — could give you a competitive edge, while others (like interactive email and dynamic email content) are probably best avoided until they become easier to implement and higher adoption.