Email is still a highly effective way to engage customers and prospects, but there’s a catch: It’s gotten dramatically harder to stand out amid the sea of emails everybody now gets. One recent analysis found an average 18% marketing email open rate across all industries.


Given this challenge, it’s essential to keep looking for new ways to enhance your email marketing strategy and, in turn, boost your engagement rates—while making your readers happy they opened your email. Here are five ways for how to improve email marketing campaigns in the year ahead:


  1. Get personal.

Most email marketing platforms today enable automatic segmenting, which allows you to send more targeted—and thus personally relevant—emails by dividing your list into smaller groups. A/B testing and other tools available on these platforms also let you fine-tune emails sent to customers and prospects and optimize your messaging, says Peter Sena, CEO of New Haven, Connecticut, digital marketing firm Digital Surgeons. “Personalization is no longer nice to have,” he says. “It’s a must-have.”


  1. Go mobile.

In 2019, nearly two-thirds of all marketing emails were opened on mobile devices. Every email should be formatted for a mobile device and relevant to someone reading it on the go. A couple mobile optimization tips: Keep your subject lines short and sweet and use a responsive email template, which adapts the email format to the device it’s being viewed on. “The number of people actually completing purchases on their mobile phones continues to rise,” says Thomas Harpointner, CEO of Atlanta marketing firm AIS Media. “Marketers using email as a sales tool can expect increased sales from email campaigns as people have become conditioned to buy from their mobile devices.


  1. Think video.

As high-speed 5G cellular networks roll out in 2020, Harpointner expects the bigger bandwidth to enable and encourage the use of multimedia in marketing emails. “We’ll see micro-commercials for major brands delivered to our inboxes,” he predicts. That said, businesses of every size should be thinking of how videos—even very short ones—could enhance their email marketing.


  1. Be vocal.

More emails these days are being read out loud by devices to their listening recipients, and that trend likely will continue, Harpointner says. “For a marketer, that could be a great thing,” he adds. “It allows emails to deliver more audio content.” As with video, there could be times worth considering adding audio files to a marketing email—whether a short announcement or a music clip.


  1. Use AI.

In 2020, more businesses will take advantage of artificial intelligence (AI) features embedded in automated marketing platforms to customize messages to each recipient far faster and more efficiently than humans can, Sena forecasts. “Marketers are taking advantage of platforms with natural language processing to have the machine automate content production instead of having an old-fashioned email marketer working on a team writing the copy from scratch and loading it up and sending it,” Sena says. Moreover, automated platforms can use AI to write more effective email subject lines and optimize email delivery to the best times of day. So consider using an automated email software that gives you such capabilities.


As email marketing technology gets more sophisticated, it’s important to keep up—and make sure you’re delivering the best information and experience to your customers’ and prospects’ inboxes.

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