Tech Trends

Experts Predict 6 Email Marketing Trends for 2023

  Gregg Blanchard     April 2, 2023    

With an ROI of $36 for every $1, it’s no wonder 37% of brands are increasing their email budgets for the new year. Hot topics are flying around right now, like generative artificial intelligence (AI), automation, email marketing providers, and political controversies.

Over the past twelve months, 77% of brands have seen an increase in engagement through email marketing channels – even after Apple's Mail Privacy protection changes. It’s evident that email marketing isn’t going anywhere. That doesn’t mean it isn’t changing, though.

As digital marketers, we’re all busy, right? We condensed this article to feature only the most important trends, as told by six email marketing experts. With each trend prediction, you’ll find a resource or an actionable step that you can take.

Read on to see which email trends might change in the next year and how you can stay ahead of the curve.

6 Trends to include in your 2023 email marketing strategy

Updated for the new quarter, the best email marketing consultants weigh in on the top six trends expected to influence email marketing this year. We even gathered actionable tips and resources to make these recommendations easier for you to implement.

1. Automate revenue-producing flows

Automating commonly used campaigns ensures consistency and increases conversions while saving you time. Chad White and his annual email marketing survey agree. Despite automation representing less than 5% of most brands’ campaign volume, they’re among the highest-performing campaigns a brand can send.

Before you jump on those templated campaigns, think again. “To stand out, automation campaigns deserve a more specific and inspired, original implementation,” Jordie Van Rijn advises. Get creative with your email design by modifying templates to make them more original or creating your own from scratch in html.

Want to learn more about creating automated email campaigns for your customers? Check out our complete guide to email journeys.

2. Create a brand community

Human nature is one “trend” that will never change. Samantha Anderl says, “To build a bustling, long-term business, you need to form real connections with your audience.” Here are five ways you can build your brand community.

  1. Identify and validate your audience’s pain points through interviews or social polls.
  2. Choose the right tone to build brand affinity – build that like, know, trust!
  3. Build a community that supports your audience by building relationships with them – magnify their voices.
  4. Make it human, not transactional.
  5. Authentic, user-generated content wins over the next generation.
  6. Showcase your customers in your newsletters.
  7. Make your emails interactive with polls, quizzes, and more.

3. Learn how to leverage AI

News of generative AI has been taking over digital marketers’ social media feeds. It’s no surprise that email marketing experts predict it will become a natural part of email marketing going forward. Mike Kaput suggests, “forward-thinking brands build email strategies that augment human marketers with intelligent machines.”

Here’s how Mike incorporates A/I apps into his workflow:

  • Use Phrasee to draft email subject lines and increase open rates
  • Consult Seventh Sense to restructure email campaigns, optimize send times, and clean up email lists.
  • Automate personalized newsletters with Rasa

4. Add GIFs

Animated GIFs grab attention and add personality to your emails. In a world where grabbing attention quickly and building brand affinity is key. Chase Dimond says GIFs are a great way to go. 51% of email marketers use animated GIFs in their email marketing campaigns, and this number is increasing daily.

Be sure to compress your GIFs before adding them to your emails. Wherever possible, optimize for mobile devices to ensure a good user experience, too.

5. Learn “prompt engineering”

Van Rijn predicts that A/I skills are on the rise. He says, “We’ll soon hear a lot more about “prompt craft,” the art of giving instructions to AI to generate content.”

Here’s a handy guide created by content marketing experts on how to craft a great A/I prompt.  To improve your prompts, consider telling your A/I tool, like ChatGPT, what to do about each of the following aspects.

  • format and length
  • action
  • context
  • source
  • audience
  • tone and style

6. Pick a side

More than 79% of consumers want to see brands represent a cause. Playing it safe may no longer be an option. Customers will rally around brands that represent them.

Here are the top stances consumers are pushing for.

  • Women’s rights
  • Poverty and inequality
  • Racism
  • Gun violence
  • Climate change

3 tips to help you keep up with the future of email marketing

As long as your conscious of design trends, data privacy, and your own deliverability metrics, you’ve got the basics down. But if you want to go above and beyond by actually bringing these trends into your emails, here are a few tips.

1. Get comfortable with AI

It’s clear that A/I isn’t just a phase. It’s here to stay. How it will be incorporated into email marketing long term is still unclear. But right now, its uses are becoming apparent.

Here are a few ways you can use AI in your email marketing efforts.

  • learn “prompt craft” to create high-converting copy
  • draft subject lines and CTAs to increase click-through rates
  • optimize send times for better conversion rates
  • clean up your lists and unsubscribe ghosts
  • automate personalized newsletters using customer data
  • automate segmentation based on customer engagement

2. Set up automations

If you haven’t already, get on those marketing automations! Dimond recommends setting up these four email automations before anything else, especially if you’re a direct-to-consumer brand.

  1. The Welcome Email Series
  2. The Abandoned Checkout Flow
  3. Customer Thank You Email
  4. Customer Winback Email
  5. Transactional emails

Automation isn’t a one-and-done deal, though. Be sure to revisit these campaigns every six months or so to ensure they’re running smoothly. It doesn’t hurt to analyze your metrics and run some A/B testing to ensure they’re fully optimized for customer experience, CTR, and functionality.

3. Make your brand stand out

It’s clear that templated campaigns and standalone email broadcasts are out. Brand affinity is in. Start making your brand more well-rounded and quickly recognizable.

Try using some of these ideas to craft good emails for brand affinity.

  • incorporate user-generated content (UGC) or even hire micro-influencers
  • feature your customers in your email newsletters
  • use social proof like reviews to power sales
  • pick one emoji and use it in your subject line to build recognition
  • add personality to your email content with GIFs
  • create custom email templates or at least modify pre-made templates
  • incorporate interactive emails with quizzes, polls, and other interactive elements
  • make your email strategy one part of your larger brand community puzzle by leveraging social media, community platforms, and events in real life to drive brand affinity