Smaily's Industry Insights

Not Another 4 Email Marketing Trends to Watch in 2021


It’s no secret that 2020 was an unexpected year. And this one channel that’s death has been announced and re-announced for more than it should, showed an 45% increase in the volume. During the unpredictability, businesses needed to shift their strategy. Email became the key channel to inform people about the latest changes in working hours, new webinars and how to join the next Zoom meeting with colleagues. 

In a time where marketers struggle for the attention of their audience due to social media’s fuzzy algorithms, the majority of businesses using email marketing spotted email engagement growth in the last 12 months. Email newsletter engagement has grown during the global pandemic, with showing the highest rates for email newsletters that cover shopping (83%) and finance (43%).


Trend #1: Personalization at scale

We need human connections more than ever. Our dear customers and clients do not want to be treated as numbers. Email is a marketing tool that enables personalization at scale. 

Studies have shown that readers are 26% more likely to open an email with a personalized subject line.  And not only have personalized subject lines proven to increase open rates, they have also demonstrated higher click rates, transactional rates and increase in revenue.  But just a recipient’s name in the subject line is not enough to impress most of your consumers in 2021. Approximately 20% of the subscribes hit “Unsubscribe” if the content is not relevant for them or the promotion does not match their interests. 

Ask subscribers their interests and preferences already when they sign up. It is easily done with Smaily’s Landing Page feature – an opt-in form designed exactly for your needs. Your precious consumers only agree to give you their personal information in exchange for  better-tailored newsletters and promotions.

To start sending hyper-personalized content, start by taking care of your subscribers aka using segmentation. There’s no point in selling snow to Eskimos. Smaily’s subscriber management tool allows you to sort subscribers out in a way that you find the most suitable. This could be anything from interests, behavior, and a lot more. 

Email list segmentation by using segmentation and dynamic content is a particularly hot trend and the importance of personalisation strengthens every day. Be interested in your  consumer. If you are not personal, you are not connecting. So, please get personal.

Here are 3 tips to make the most of this trend:

1. Recommend products or content per consumer.

2. Make tailored messages and promotions by segments.

3. Use visitor-based trigger emails (e.g. shopper behavior on your webpage).


Example 1


Example 2


Example 3


Trend #2: Text-only emails

Same goes for this one. We crave the real connections more than before. Plain text-only emails save time, are easy to get the point and feel more personal. From an environmental perspective, climate demonstrations and eco-themes have also reached the digital marketing area. It is a fact that digital infrastructure is an enormous consumer of energy and it is growing rapidly. How big is the impact of one email? A single email is nothingness. But if it is a one-year-of-emails, there is some effect. 

This does not mean you can not send emails with videos and GIFs. It is just you do not have to. The aim to feel personal is easily attained with a text-only email. Because, let us be honest, when was the last time a friend of yours sent you an image-heavy email? Use these when you are looking to get a little more personal with this specific email and trying to connect on a deeper level. The art of less is more – lose distracting design elements and direct attention to the CTA.

Sending a different email for your subscribers could be a nice change. Try mixing designed and templated emails with simple text-only ones. Also, a lot of email marketers are relying on minimalism in 2021. The public love for this trend is on and a clean, well-structured email with one objective is going to take the lead in the upcoming years.

“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 personalised content creates a following for the long term.” – H.Roini Marketing Manager EMEA



Example 1

Example 2


Example 3  


Trend #3: Omnichannel marketing

Omnichannel marketing definition, by Influencer Marketing Hub, is the process of using digital and traditional marketing channels to send relevant marketing messages to your customers regardless of the marketing channels you use to engage. 

Being heard and seen and remaining relevant in a competitive and crowded market is essential in 2021. As more and more businesses are operating online you need to meet your customers where they are. A shopper, let us call her Nelli, is not just going to visit a website and make a purchase. She is visiting several websites and looking for other than just that pair of sports leggings. Nelli is definitely checking the brand’s Instagram account and googling it to get a deeper understanding about the brand’s core values etc. Omnichannel marketing helps you to better engage with potential customers across different marketing channels.

Omnichannel marketing examples:

Podcast, reviews, social media ad remarketing, YouTube videos, sales outreach through email and a lot more. 

TIP: Incorporating these channels with email you already get at least 5 ideas for your next email campaign.


Trend #4: Be mobile friendly

In 2012, less than 30% of the emails were opened on a mobile device. In 2020 this number was 61%! And it is still growing. 

By the way – what do you do as soon as your wake up alarm has turned off? If I guess right, you are like most of the humans in 2021 and you have your phone next to your bed and check it for calls, messages and yes… for emails in the morning. So think about it, you have scheduled an email campaign for 7:30 in the morning. 

Your dear subscribers who read it on their mobile devices, but the email is not optimized for mobile view, what do they do with that? Answer is simple. Mostly they will delete or click the unsubscribe button. Also, the late morning is know as the peak time for using email apps on smartphones, based on total time spent.

Still, people are sending out a lot of mobile unfriendly emails until this day. Nearly 62% of the email opens occur on a mobile device, and we can be pretty sure it is going to continue to grow. 


But if the email is mobile-aware designed, it generates a lot of revenue! A mobile-aware email means that it displays optimally between desktop and a mobile device. The goal is to look great regardless of the device where your subscribers read it.

Here are 3 tips how to get most out of this trend:
  1. Better to use simple layouts. Using a single column template will make your content much more flexible for all screen sizes.
  2. Make the CTA clear and obvious. Tell your readers what you want them to do, and make it really easy for them to do so. And remember – with mobile, the finger is the new mouse, so make sure it’s really easy to click on.
  3.  Include alt text. Only use images that are essential to this email campaign. As many mobile devices do not display images by default, your email may just be a bunch of white chunks. That is when alt text (image description) will come handy. It let’s a reader know what the image is even when it’s not being displayed.



As many businesses and brands have made the shift to digital marketing channels and may be under financial strain, it makes email, basically one of the channels you actually own, even more attractive. 

Being a newbie in this field, you can try out the channel without any costs. Smaily offers a free account up to 2000 subscribers. No catch. Just all the features, support by our friendly bot or by email, free plugins and integrations and API access. 

Get your free account and stay ahead of the competitor!


Author bio: Mia Brit Ots loves receiving a good email. And good coffeè. 

Can be found consulting companies on email marketing and helping with content marketing.