2021 email strategy envelope

2021 Email Marketing Strategy: 5 Reasons to Make Changes

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As we look back at the last 12 months, it’s easy to see how our personal, social, and working lives have changed dramatically. The world in January 2021 is much different than it was at the start of 2020.

It’s quite likely that your email marketing strategy had to pivot last year as well. While there’s plenty of hope and optimism as we move forward, we’ll continue to deal with many of the same challenges.

So, what does all of this mean for email marketers? We’ve just released a free, special report, Email Marketing and the Next Normal, to help answer that question. The report takes an in-depth look at the role email played throughout 2020 and provides a 10-step email marketing action plan to help inform strategic changes.

Why your 2021 email marketing strategy needs to evolve

You might assume your email strategy is evergreen. It’s easy to think that no matter what happens, you’re going to stick to the plan you have in place. Why rock the boat?

However, the reality is, when there are massive shifts in the way the world works, it directly impacts the way email marketing works. Here are five examples to consider for your 2021 email strategy:

1. COVID-19 changed everything

The sudden arrival of the coronavirus in 2020 forced both individuals and businesses to adapt quickly. Clear communication was key, and email was the most reliable channel for letting customers know what to expect during the crisis.

Brands used COVID-19 emails in different ways depending on the industry and the message email teams needed to convey. Many businesses had to communicate sudden cancellations while others focused on health and safety. Foodservice and retail brands were talking about online ordering, delivery, and curbside pickup while schools and universities had to explain online learning to students and parents. There was a slew of COVID-19-related emails from CEOs, some helpful and some just noise.

In our special report, we examine what worked, what didn’t go over so well, and why. The goal is to help you understand how to best use email as the pandemic continues to provide challenges in 2021.

First and foremost, 2020 taught email marketers that we need to have a plan for hitting pause on our campaigns when there’s any sort of crisis. Sending the wrong message at the wrong time could be costly and embarrassing.

2. The shift to remote work

COVID-19 precautions accelerated the work-from-home trend, and it doesn’t appear to be temporary.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) cites Gartner research indicating a surge in acceptance for remote work connected to COVID-19. The research found 82% of company leaders plan to allow remote work at least some of the time while close to half will allow employees to work outside the office full time.

embracing remote work infographic
(Image courtesy: SHRM.org)

If you’re an email marketer trying to reach a B2B audience, there are a lot of strategic implications here. For starters, are your subscribers more likely to check work email at a different time if they’re working from home? You should also consider that they may be struggling to juggle work and family life while using various devices to read email throughout the day.

3. Consumer behavior

Yet another trend that gained steam during 2020 was the adoption of online shopping. In our special report, we cite research that indicates baby boomers’ behavior changed noticeably thanks to COVID-19 concerns. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), nearly two-thirds of baby boomers tried online ordering with in-store pick-up during the first few months of the pandemic.

The 2020 holiday shopping season provides more insights that can shape your 2021 email marketing strategy. According to Mastercard SpendingPulse, while total holiday retail sales beat expectations and grew 3% YoY, online sales experienced incredible growth of nearly 50%. That increase was driven in part by a spike in email send volumes around Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Optimizing eCommerce email strategies – from abandoned cart emails to shipment confirmations – should be a top priority of B2C marketers in 2021. Our special report contains some specific advice.

4. The economic downturn

One of the unfortunate side effects of COVID-19 lockdowns and closures was what happened to the economy.

While the situation isn’t as bad as it was early in 2020, research suggests nearly 1 in 10 businesses planned for layoffs in the last three months of 2020, and more than 19-million Americans remained unemployed at the end of the year.

That means people you’ve done business with may no longer be there or have moved on to a new opportunity. Our special report examines how this could impact B2B email marketers.

5. The economic recovery

At the start of the pandemic, Neil Patel blogged about COVID-19’s apparent impact on website traffic among different industries. A few, like food, healthcare, and media saw spikes in web traffic. However, advertising, travel, and transportation websites saw significant traffic dips.

COVID 2020 web traffic chart
(Image courtesy: NeilPatel.com)

These sorts of discrepancies will continue as the economy bounces back. Some experts call it a “K-shaped economic recovery.” This means certain portions of the population and industries are recovering quickly and completely while others continue to struggle.

As you develop a 2021 email marketing strategy, you’ll need to keep this in mind. Segmenting your lists so you provide the right kind of messaging to different subscribers will be important.

Other important 2021 email trends

Check out some other articles from Email on Acid that dive into emerging trends in email marketing:

Test changes to your 2021 email marketing strategy

A new year signifies a fresh start. This year, that’s exactly what we all need.

Whether you’re revamping your 2021 email marketing strategy or freshening up some email templates, the Email on Acid pre-deployment platform is designed to help you work as a team and optimize campaigns for deliverability, accessibility, and dozens of different devices and clients.

For more lessons on what 2020 taught us about email marketing and insights into what to do as we move forward, download your free copy of our special report: Email Marketing and the Next Normal. Get your action plan today!

Download the Special Report

email marketer works on 2021 action plan
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Author: Betsy Grondy

With a decade of email marketing experience, Betsy has done email strategy and execution for more than 36 countries (for local brands as well as Fortune 500 companies) all from the comfort of her North Carolina home. As Email on Acid’s Senior Email Marketing Manager, she’s enjoying being meta in email marketing and striving for email perfection in every send. When she’s not pushing the boundaries as an #emailgeek, you’ll find her scouring flea markets with her husband for cool vintage toys and mid-century modern furniture to restore.

Author: Betsy Grondy

With a decade of email marketing experience, Betsy has done email strategy and execution for more than 36 countries (for local brands as well as Fortune 500 companies) all from the comfort of her North Carolina home. As Email on Acid’s Senior Email Marketing Manager, she’s enjoying being meta in email marketing and striving for email perfection in every send. When she’s not pushing the boundaries as an #emailgeek, you’ll find her scouring flea markets with her husband for cool vintage toys and mid-century modern furniture to restore.

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