Email marketing | Year in review 2019 and whats in store for 2020

Author : Ashley Kolpak

Email Marketing: Year in review 2019 and what is in store for 2020

Another year coming to a close marks another year of email marketing continuing its evolution as one of the most powerful marketing channels. Email’s continued relevance even though the basic function has remained for decades speaks to the innovations of developers and marketers of all stripes around the globe coming together to innovate and challenge what consumers think email can be. 

In 2019, the strength of email as a marketing channel was demonstrated in a few key ways: a focus on user empathy, accessibility and storming towards the future with the advent of AMP for email.

Empathy in Email Wins in 2019

One of the best articles about email marketing I read this year explains Why Empathy Wins. Something as simple as preparing a thoughtful opt-out letter (We’ll miss you, but would you like to receive our emails anymore?” not only paves the way for a squeaky-clean list and lessens the threat of spam complaints, but it takes a moment to say, “Hey, do you want to keep up this conversation?” and the opportunity to avoid unwanted communication. Caring about your audience’s emotions – hey, is this Mother’s Day email going to cause sadness or an adverse emotional response from anyone on my list – can be remedied with a simple opt-out. By letting a customer choose to skip one of your experiences, trust is built for the next round, because they felt seen and heard.

User Accessibility Stepped Up It’s Game This Year

User accessibility in email continues to be an extremely important topic. Creating content or messaging that is accessible by the widest variety of audiences possible is key in expanding the empathy of the modern-day email marketer. The simplest step towards accessibility is to never forget alt text. Not only can alternative image text boost SEO rankings, it gives anyone who cannot see the image a better overall experience of the content. 

While big, vivid pictures are essential in engaging email marketing, the days of the email as one giant image are over. From a technical standpoint, sending out a very image-heavy email is one way to tempt the browser gods that may or may not block the images. If that image does not have proper alt text, the email sent is as good as blank and your brand is at risk of losing a customer. Beautiful imagery and descriptive alt text can co-exist together all in one email, and understanding how to present an email without relying 100% on the powerful visual draw is a creative challenge that will benefit your customers. Another simple way to improve your email program’s accessibility is to check for color contrast. By ensuring email text is easy to read, it can encourage more buy-in when your customer is thinking about your brand.


AMP for Email Caused a Stir at the End of 2019

What exactly is AMP for Email? Email’s abiding strength all these years that it’s managed to remain relevant without changing very much. That sentiment was shared by Jon Harmer at Google given at a recent talk about AMP for GMail. AMP scripts are looking to change all that. Using snippets of code, users can fill out surveys within the body of the email, and can purchase products without ever clicking off the page. AMP functions as a shorthand for interactivity, a new and exciting element of email that will open up more possibilities as email marketers head into the next decade.


Email and the Omnichannel Experience in 2020

While email is a powerful tool, its reach becomes even more impactful when it is part of an omni-channel approach. It’s becoming more and more common for email to exist as a part of a larger eco-system with push notifications, SMS messaging and other touch points on the customer journey. Omnichannel marketing goes beyond multi-channel marketing – aka, sending the same message to users via different platforms. Strategically understanding which channel is best for what part of the sales funnel is true omnichannel mastery.


Machine learning powering marketer insights

Want to grow your email team exponentially without reviewing resume or spending a penny? Automation and machine learning. Yes, this might be a little easier said than done, but harnessing the power of machine learning to automatically generate new A/B tests, generate subject lines based on customer’s past behavior, create new recommendations based on past purchases and so much more. Leveraging this burgeoning technology is a way to increase your brand’s reach in a very powerful way. However – it’s the human touch at the end of the day that makes this work. Understanding that certain keywords may trigger results your customer may not be looking for is a risk marketers take when they leave new content generation in the hands of the machine.

Plan for promos beyond the holidays

As marketers, we’re in the midst of hectic holiday promo season, and it can be tempting to give promos a rest once the calendar rolls around to January 1. While it’s important to give customers a break as well, perhaps the best way to plan for 2020 is start months ahead. In 2020, purposefully plan promotions so holidays don’t need to do all of the heavy lifting. Depending on your audience, why not choose a day that is meaningful for them to send a special promo? An unexpected “thank you” in the form of a promo is a great way to spruce up your 2020 calendar, and you can plan for it while we are still in 2019. 



As the promo season kicks into high gear, best of luck to all the marketers out there! It can be a trying time of year, but it’s a great time to see results. Keep your goals on track by taking a little time before the end of the year to ensure your budget and plans are all set for 2020 and it’ll pay off in the long run.

Ashley Kolpak is based in Chicago. A writer at heart and marketer by trade, digital & email marketing are an ideal combination of her passions and interests. When she’s not pressing the send button, you can find her exploring new neighborhood coffee shops, reading up a storm or catching up on Survivor.