2013 was an incredibly active year for email, with plenty of industry developments to keep us email marketers on our toes. We’ve had Gmail Tabs & Gmail Image Caching, Yahoo address recycling, mobile opens hitting 51%, Hotmail changing to Outlook.com and more. Phew!
It was also a big year for Campaignmaster with two In:box conferences, a system re-design, an expanded team and more emails being sent than ever before. We’d like to say a big thanks to all our clients who have, as ever, been a joy to work with.
Now January’s arrived I’m betting it’s going to be another bumper year for the best marketing channel out there. Here are some my predictions for 2014!
Email has had a bit of wobbly history with image heavy content. While a picture can say a thousand words, there have been a lot of drawbacks to placing too many in an email.
Spam filters, unable to scan the content of images, would treat image heavy emails unfavourably if they didn’t contain enough scannable text to base their spam score on. To add insult to injury, email clients would also block all images by default to stop spammers tracking emails or using images containing malicious code.
Fast-forward to the present, and we’re facing a far more image-friendly future. Spam filters focus more on things like IP reputation and engagement, with content taking a back seat. Mail for iOS displays all images by default, with Gmail recently following suit.
With previous restraints on images falling away, expect to see more great image content hitting your inbox soon.
Call this one a personal hunch, but I have a sneaky feeling that animation is going to kick off this year, and I’m not talking GIFs.
We’ve all seen the near seizure inducing flashing of some email GIFs (I’m looking at you, fashion retail!), but this year I think CSS animation is going to start cropping up a lot more.
CSS animation can be far more elegant and immersive than GIF animation, and takes up a fraction of the file size. Previously, poor client support for CSS animation has stopped it from flourishing but modern mobile devices are making this restriction a thing of the past.
Continued Mobile Growth
We’ve been making a ton of noise about responsive design for mobile this year, not only on our blog, but also at our In:box conferences.
2013 was the biggest year for mobile to date, and saw over 50% of total email opens taking place on a mobile device. Needless to say, this is huge news for the email marketing industry.
2014 will no doubt see this trend continue to rise, and is reportedly already off to a good start after a very tablet-y Christmas.
Getting to Grips With Video
Placing video in email has been possible for quite some time. Despite several reports stating the effectiveness of video in email, and a slight rise in the use of video in email itself, it doesn’t feel like video email has found it’s sweet-spot yet.
Whether it’s lacking the technical knowledge to make a video and insert it in an email, or knowing exactly what content to put in a video, email marketers have hit a snag.
Fingers crossed that more email marketers make a resolution to hop over the video hurdle this year.
More Shareable Content
Nothing beats the giddy thrill of seeing your content being shared by others. After sending a campaign I often spend a few geeky minutes watching the results coming in live, and am glued to watching the spikes in our Google Analytics traffic.
As marketers ourselves, we always see the biggest jump in traffic when our content is shared with others, not only via email (duh!) but via social too.
In 2014, I’m expecting to see a further rise in sharable content, including:
- Images and video (as mentioned earlier)
- Embeddable Infographics
- Lists (like this post!)
- Guides and How-to’s
- PDF’s (C’mon, we all like a good PDF)
With the future for email marketing only getting brighter, 2014 looks like it’s set to continue and improve upon the trends we’ve seen in 2013. I think the most exciting developments are being made possible with the fantastic email standards support coming from mobile including CSS animation, good video support and a whole heap of other HTML5 compatibility.
I once used to tell email marketers to ‘grab your favourite VHS of Friends and get ready to code like it’s 1998’, but now I feel that 2014 will be the year that email finally loses its ‘out-of-date’ image among the coding community.