Email & SMS

What's New in 2020: Expert Insights for a Successful Email Marketing Program

By Tinuiti Team

In December, Tinuiti hosted a series of performance marketing panels featuring experts from across digital channels discussing the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. For the CRM & Email channel, 2020 promises to be an exciting year. Email marketing has historically evolved more slowly than its paid media counterparts, but there’s so much newness on the horizon, our panel of experts expressed universal excitement at the potential.

If you missed the webinar, read on to hear insights from the conversation, or catch the whole panel discussion by viewing the recording.

How To Build A Successful Email Marketing Program


1. Privacy and Compliance

Managing consumer rights and privacy has been top of mind in recent years, with legislation like GDPR and CCPA requiring marketers to critically evaluate how they collect data, and consumer consent to use that data. To maintain compliance, brands must tailor their data collection and use to the specific countries in which they operate or where their customers might reside. In general, adopting the highest standards across the board is your best bet to stay ahead of new legislation pending across several states:

“Given how progressive California is, many are viewing CCPA as the standard that would be set across the United States, viewing CCPA as the potential catch-all right they should be solving for nationwide.

– Jason Grunberg, SVP of Marketing, Sailthru


 2. Changes to the Inbox

Gmail is at the forefront of an inbox revolution, introducing both Gmail Annotations and AMP for Email in the last year. Both offer greater engagement and interactivity, and given the high adoption rates of Gmail, stand to significantly impact a majority of many brands’ email lists.

Tinuiti client The Vitamin Shoppe shared promising insight from early testing of Annotations with their audience, 32% of which is made up of Gmail addresses.

“[Gmail Annotations] allows us to stand out in the inbox before customers even open the email. In preliminary tests we’ve seen an 11% lift in open rates so far.”

– Mike Woodall, Senior Strategist, CRM & Email, Tinuiti

“Given 1/3 of our active email database uses Gmail, this feature will improve email engagement significantly. It’s been an important tool to help us stand out in the noise and get a leg up on the competition.”

– Ryan Gudovitz, Senior Manager, CRM & Retention, The Vitamin Shoppe
Similarly, AMP for email could be a game-changer, bringing more landing-page like functionality – carousels, expanding and collapsing elements, live polls and form submissions, etc. – to the inbox itself. While few ESPs support the code required to power AMP, it’s never too early to start thinking about how to take advantage of this powerful new set of tools.

“Interactivity and personalization should be one of the first things marketers are thinking about because it will fundamentally change how a campaign looks.”

– Jason Grunberg, SVP of Marketing, Sailthru
 Similarities were drawn between today’s forward-thinking marketers, and those early adopters of a mobile-first mentality when the smartphone began its meteoric rise.

 “Top performers were thinking mobile-first years before [mobile drove the majority of site traffic]. Those same retailers are thinking ahead and optimizing for things like dark mode and AMP today,” Grunberg said.

3. Personalization

While the concept of email personalization isn’t new for 2020, consumer’s expectations for more tailored communication are higher than ever. With more tools on the market to support creating unique digital experiences, marketers who fail to deliver run the risk of getting lost amongst the competition.

“If you’re not personalizing, you’re lost in a sea of emails. It starts with having CRM data readily available for personalization. Using a tool like Heap enables you to track user activity with a simple snippet. This gives you visibility on how users are interacting with your website and product pages to understand how to personalize the emails you’re sending out.”

– Kevin Charette, Marketing Operations Manager, Heap
 Tinuiti client The Vitamin Shoppe was uniquely suited to speak to personalization thanks to their commitment to creating a 1:1 experience, evidenced by their high ranking in Sailthru’s recently released 2019 Retail Personalization Index.

“Aside from leveraging data, it’s about layering in the capabilities of 3rd party vendors to personalize to scale, powering personalized images, countdown clocks, and dynamic product recommendations.”

– Ryan Gudovitz, Senior Manager, CRM & Retention, The Vitamin Shoppe

Tinuiti’s lead strategist for CRM & Email for The Vitamin Shoppe spoke to numerous opportunities to infuse personalization in every campaign, not just behavioral triggers:

“Outside of email automation, we’re trying to find as many ways to make daily promos and newsletters more personalized. One example: we’re using data from the CRM system and 3rd party vendors to power dynamic abandoned cart and browse modules to display carted and browsed product information in daily sends.”

– Mike Woodall, Senior Strategist, CRM & Email, Tinuiti

4. AI/Machine Learning

Our panel of experts agree that 2020 is going to be an incredible and transformative year for machine learning. AI has yet to take the place of human marketers, instead providing us with time-saving tools and insights that allow marketers to do what we do best: storytelling.

“With the data available, we’re moving toward creating insights for the user, giving you the ability to create actions from those insights. Eventually we can rely on AI and machine learning to make decisions for us, taking the guesswork out of it and reducing how much manual iteration and testing is required.”

– Kevin Charette, Marketing Operations Manager, Heap

“What I’m looking for with AI is the practical application. I’m expecting to see more integration of predictive analytics in segmentation so we can use AI to automatically build segments. This will mean you’re spending less time looking for those insights and instead augmenting the processes.”

– Jason Grunberg, SVP of Marketing, Sailthru

For more insights from our panel of experts, be sure to check out the full session recording. For those marketers looking to blow it out across the digital landscape in 2020, we’ve also got recordings from panel discussions focused on the future of Amazon, Paid Search, and Paid Social. If you need more support, get in touch to learn how Tinuiti can help.

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