Top challenges for email marketers in 2022 and how to tackle them

2021 was a very successful year for email marketers. According to Litmus, More than 40% of brands defined email marketing as “very critical” for overall success. Email has once again proved that it’s not dead. At Inbox Suite, we are very positive about 2022; as more budgets are allocated for this year, more email marketers will be hired, and more money will flow into agencies and freelancers.

2021 was a very successful year for email marketers. According to Litmus, More than 40% of brands defined email marketing as “very critical” for overall success. Email has once again proved that it’s not dead. At Inbox Suite, we are very positive about 2022; as more budgets are allocated for this year, more email marketers will be hired, and more money will flow into agencies and freelancers.

During our latest webinar at Smart Insights Digital Summit, we asked 459 live viewers about the biggest challenges they expect in 2022 regarding their email marketing efforts. 

In this article, we will cover the top 5 challenges according to the answers we got and present you with some of the recommendations on how to tackle them:

Apple Mail Privacy Protection

Apple Mail Privacy Protection

During its WWDC event in June last year, Apple announced its new privacy protection updates. These changes have been effective across iOS 15, iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey, and watchOS 8 on the compatible devices.

Marketers could track the recipients’ IP address, their geolocation, whether they opened your email message or not, even with the date and time details. As it was clearly stated in the Apple Press Release, this is no longer the case. In other words, the good old open rates metric loses its importance for marketers as open rates have become inaccurate.

The MPP updates don’t just affect iCloud email service users but any email service used on the Apple Mail app. For instance, a message sent to Gmail but opened on Apple’s native Mail app. A recent research on Apple Mail demographics suggests that iPhones are much more popular in countries like the US, UK and Japan. According to Pathwire, on a global level, around 14% of people use Apple Mail. However, it might be a concern for your brand if you have many users reading emails on Apple devices. 

 

Recommendations:

Use engagement metrics for email performance tracking

Although open rates were not considered as the leading performance metric by many email marketers, we recommend focusing on clicks- and conversion-based reporting on your new dashboard wall. You can even combine these metrics with some other critical performance metrics beyond the inbox, such as offline activity, intent mapping on your website, logins, engagement on other channels. 

Find new triggers for your email campaigns

Marketers use subscriber opens for various campaigns such as reactivation campaigns and sales nurturing series. Moreover, it is very common practice to build journeys for certain customer profiles and usually open rates are used as one of the main segmentation rules for the next message to send.

In line with the review of your engagement metrics and finding the best set, you may want to determine which triggers fit your email marketing program best. Your creativity is the limit here. Any signals from other channels you use could be a part of this calculation. 

Time to look closer at your email deliverability

To minimize the impact, we recommend keeping the best practices, creating messages relevant to your audience, making sure that you have rich personalization, and, in short, adopting a customer-centric email marketing program. Having a holistic email marketing approach is the way to the inbox.

Switch to engage-time optimization

In the email marketing community, send time optimization is an old topic. Almost all marketing automation tools and email service providers offer this feature by now. Usually, such systems use the subscriber's last open behavior to determine the best time to send the next email. 

Apple’s new privacy changes lead to false open times, and STO is no longer an accurate feature in an email marketer’s arsenal. It is necessary for the email vendors to adopt different metrics than opens for STO implementation like clicks or other subscriber behavior. 

We recommend updating your current STO use to multi-layer engage-time optimization. If you’re not using STO now, it is high time to get started, so that you can collect data about your subscribers behavior, and finally use this data to match with your new engage-time optimization model.

Play the email design game with the new rules

Probably, one thing you’ll remember from this article is that the email opens are to fade away, and you need to adjust accordingly. It applies to all aspects of your email marketing program. Considering the fact that you will no longer depend on email open metrics, subscriber clicks will be the new goal for marketers. If you want to get those clicks, you may start with your email design, and pay more attention to make your content look more attractive for your audience.

 

Age of privacy for email users - what’s next? 

Email subscribers are becoming more and more informed about and aware of their privacy. Apple just listened to its users and we believe other mailbox providers will follow Apple’s moves. Not only providers, but also brands will embrace privacy and they will use it to differentiate from their competitors. Customers, on the other hand, will only give up on their data if they see valuable inbox experience. Brands will focus on gathering more data to feed customer profiles and encourage them for more engagement. We’ll see more dynamic content, interactive email templates, and usage of polls or creative tactics like gamification.

Removal of third-party cookies

Removal of third-party cookies

On January 14, 2020, Google announced their plans to remove third-party cookies for Google Chrome. They initially stated that it would start by the beginning of 2022, and now it is delayed for late 2022 or 2023. It will make personalized communication with your audience more challenging, since Chrome is the most common browser with over 66% of the global market share.

Third-party cookies are created by domains other than the one you are visiting directly, hence the name third-party. They are used for cross-site tracking, retargeting, and ad-serving. It's not just Google that is concerned about the use of cookies. Apple’s Safari, Mozilla Firefox, and Brave browsers are already blocking third-party cookies by default.

Cookies can be a powerful tool for personalizing a web browsing experience based on users’ specific interests, but they can also carry sensitive data to places outside of their control. It impacts the adoption of the browser that encourages this. People want to have more choice and control over how their information is used and Google wants to meet their users’ expectations by blocking third-party cookies by default.

In response to the drastic changes in adoption and proposal of legislation surrounding online tracking, you may consider modifying any strategy that relies on third-party cookie technology and identifiers.

 

Recommendations: 

Build your first-party database with email addresses as identifiers

Email addresses are unique and they’re incredibly easy to collect. When building your first-party data asset, you must include email addresses as one of your sources. The good news is that you don’t need to encourage users to share their addresses — they already did that when they signed up for a service or bought something from you.

Revise your subscriber acquisition

Sign up forms and email marketing campaigns are the two most common places where brands collect information from their customers. Companies will want to test every aspect of their sign up forms, including CTAs, form fields, and copy. Experimenting with different CTAs – "Join Now" vs "Get More", or "Free Trial" – can make a substantial difference in how many people sign up, especially if the CTA is personalized based on someone's browsing history.

Another major opportunity for improvement lies in conversion optimization: companies can eliminate unnecessary form fields, streamline a form's layout, and remove any friction that might prevent people from signing up.

Pay more attention to customer retention

Focusing on subscriber retention is another important factor to consider. Most ESPs are investing in technology that can help marketers understand why subscribers are unsubscribing, so they can implement changes and incentives to reduce the churn rate. 

This means more targeted and personalized email campaigns will be headed to your inactive subscribers and re-engage them with relevant messages, which will have a positive effect on overall email delivery rates and deliverability.

Centralize all CRM data

Centralizing and sharing data is a major undertaking, but it’s a necessary one, if you want your email marketing, website experience, and lead generation campaigns to be successful. By aggregating your data in one place, you can make your first-party data more accurate and easier to understand, as well as build better customer profiles and make smarter decisions about what content to deliver to which people. Centralization also makes it easy to share anonymous user data with online publishers.

Email marketing in an inflationary economy

Email marketing in an inflationary economy

Usually, as marketers, we compete with other brands. Our goal is to make our products or services stand out from the competition. However, this year, we will need to compete with the macroeconomic circumstances as well. 

We’ve seen this on the news, and it’s also hard to ignore the increasing prices when we go to a supermarket or order something online. The US inflation rate for 2021 was announced as 7%, which is the highest in the last 4 decades. Similarly, in the UK, it was 5.4% for 2021. The increase in inflation rate already surpassed the growth on average wages. 

For this reason, people count every penny in their wallet. Your customers will think twice before they spend their money on anything. 

We may not be heading to a recession or a financial crisis. On the contrary, it is projected that ecommerce/retail sales will rise this year. Online sales will have an even greater increase. It is likely that we’ll see an impact on customer behavior, and brands will have a hard time to convince new customers or retain the current ones. 

At first, we may think: “Ok, let’s offer some discounts”. However, many brands are struggling with supply-chain issues and they may not be able to cut their prices down. Moreover, consumers will not be buying more just because of price discounts. They will be driven by experience. This year, we’ll have one more reason to deliver true, personalized engagements to our subscribers.

Studies show that customers are actually willing to pay a 20% premium for personalized shopping experience. 

Case study: 

There is a great example from Chipotle. The company recently reported double-digit sales growth by simply changing their delivery model and pricing structure around the value of experience. They introduced premium online-only options that allow customers to customize their orders and they charge 17% more for them.

Keeping high and stable deliverability for your email marketing program

Keeping high and stable deliverability for your email marketing program

As mailbox providers improve their spam filters and do everything to keep their promise about providing a valuable inbox experience for their users, getting into your subscribers’ inbox is becoming even more challenging each year. Even if you take into account all the best practices with content, design, sending time, and personalization, it can all go to waste if you don’t pay enough attention to deliverability. 

Maintaining good email deliverability requires list hygiene, sending domain and IP reputation, subscriber engagement, and more. You can do all those things by yourself or give it to machines. Here’s how AI can help:

  • During subscriber acquisition, some automated email validation services use AI combined with statistical analysis to rate the quality level of an email address;
  • AI can run a fully automated warm-up phase. It decides how many messages should be sent to which domain family at what pace; 
  • Before sending campaigns, AI does preliminary tests to identify any possible issues such as spammy words, blocklisted domains or broken links; 
  • AI can recognize ISP minute signals and optimize the resend rules.
Overcoming burnout and saving time for things that matter

Overcoming burnout and saving time for things that matter

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, email marketing teams have struggled with standing out in their subscribers’ inbox and meeting the KPIs. Adapting to the new normal for the workplaces, new regulations, and rapidly changing customer expectations have increased the stress on email marketing teams who already have a lot on their plate. Moreover, they still need to allocate time on creating new strategies to adjust their email marketing program. It can be overwhelming.   

Using AI technology enables marketing teams to save time for things that actually matter. They can focus on working on creativity, strategy, and more revenue-generating ideas. 

AI allows you to eliminate the guesswork in email marketing. Marketing teams can fully depend on the data-driven insights and signals for the next best action for each subscriber based on computational algorithms. The best thing is that they don’t need to deal with all those repetitive and boring tasks. 

 

Over to you

Regardless of any eventful announcements, email marketers discover exciting AI use cases which would save their time, turn them into truly data-driven email teams, and make their email marketing program bulletproof. 

If you are looking for an AI-powered email marketing solution, you can book a free consultation session with one of our experts today, and they will help you get started with AI in email marketing. 

For daily updates, email marketing tips, and more AI news, follow us on Linkedin, Twitter, and Facebook.

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