Takeaways From a New State of Email Report

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Interactivity just may be the buzzword for 2019. We talk about it for webinars, events, meetings. For six months, a whole floor of the popular Hirshhorn Museum here in Washington, D.C., is devoted to an interactive exhibit that measures our heartbeats, finger prints and grips. It translates into starry light shows, exotic patterns on the walls and even movement in mini-ponds.

And it's geared to adults.

Apparently, email will be the next area where interactivity becomes more sustained. According to Litmus' 2019 State of Email report, "AMP for Gmail promises a new level of interactivity within an email, such as completing surveys, making purchases, or filling out forms without leaving the email," Litmus says, but notes that the tool could create added complexities for email service providers and designers. You'll need to create a separate email just for your Gmail subscribers, they say.

Last year, Google made headlines with its AMP for Email initiative, trying to bring to email the same technology they're using to speed up mobile pages. It should finally launch soon. Reducing the number of clicks and opens we have to go through to make purchases, subscribe, sign up for webinars and fill out surveys would be a huge step forward.

Here are more takeaways from the State of Email report:

How do your emails look on mobile? In December 2018, 43% of all emails were opened on mobile devices. That compares to 39% opened in webmail and 18% in desktop applications. We have to believe that many people are quickly going through emails on their mobile device to determine what to keep and what to delete. The initial impression has to be strong.

How will your emails sound on a smart speaker? Pretty soon Alexa and company may help decide what people delete. Companies big and small are already starting to put flash briefings on people's morning Alexa. Consulting firm Deloitte Global predicts 250 million smart speakers will be installed worldwide by the end of 2019. Amazon's Echo can now read your emails, mistakes and all.  

A warning. If you still put key information inside images, this is your final warning to stop, writes Litmus. "Alexa will ignore your images and the alt text you use to describe them, the same way that readers won't see that information in emails viewed with images off. Use images to enhance your message and put important information in message text."

Windows 10 new Outlook services. Verified business icons will "help you sort through the noise and interact more easily..." (My emphasis.) A subscription portal pane in the Outlook UI will help users "easily see what newsletters you're enrolled in and unsubscribe in one click." Visible email promotions in the inbox will make it "easy to find promotions in your inbox by surfacing offer details right in your message list, so you don't have to open the email to see the deal." Outlook has also changed the way it handles default fonts, ending a long-running frustration for developers.

GDPR could mean more privacy laws here. The European Union's General Data Protection Regulation, which went into effect in 2018, has inspired similar and sometimes stricter laws in non-EU countries. Expect to see a similar move at the federal level in the United States, writes Litmus. Data collection practices and security breaches spurred the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which will significantly strengthen privacy there when it goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020. SIPA has an important webinar on this topic Feb. 14 that you should not miss.

Follow these three steps to stay on the right side of the law—whether you live in an EU nation or have customers or prospects in any of your databases whose rights are protected under the law:

  • Comply with the law, and stay compliant.
  • Sharpen your acquisition tactics.
  • Make subscriber retention a priority.

Sharpen your measurements. Brands that can measure ROI successfully are more likely to see higher value from their emails, writes Litmus—and when you can demonstrate that your program is generating more value, that leads to bigger budgets.

"We're in the golden age of email marketing, but many marketers still need to close some big gaps before they can achieve all of the benefits email can bring to an effective digital marketing program," the report says.

Ronn Are you subscribed to the SIPAlert Daily?
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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…