The Top 5 Email Marketing Predictions for 2016

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Email marketing is alive and well. Despite it often being viewed as an archaic digital medium, it remains an invaluable tool for digital marketers. Email marketing has evolved a lot over the last couple years (think about the content, design and timing), and it’s not slowing down. Here are five of our predictions of how email marketing will advance in 2016.

1. More emails will be sent

Those who have used marketing automation tools believe the top benefits are saving time and increasing customer engagement (Adestra). As a result of this improved efficiency and engagement, consumers will be bombarded with more email than ever. In fact, people can expect to receive 5% more emails per day in 2016 (The Radicati Group). That means you’ll have to deliver truly interesting and relevant content to avoid getting lost in the jungle that is their inbox—or even worse: the unsubscribe treatment (ick).

Chart of Sent and Received Emails 2015-2019

2. Super-targeted messages will become the standard

This is how email marketers will counter the previous point. Marketing automation enables businesses to send highly personalized messages to the right people at the optimal time. This can dramatically improve email open rates, click-through rates and conversions, as we demonstrated in the Modesto Bee Case Study.

In 2016, marketing automation vendors are going to address the elephant in the room—that marketing automation is not automated. Niche automated marketing platforms are going to:

  • Integrate deeper with other digital products to open up the opportunity for more personalized content.
  • Gather more data about specific user behavior to generate more personalized content.
  • Utilize triggers to send emails at the optimal times.

This data-driven push will empower agencies and media companies to pinpoint the ideal recipients and send them powerful, tailored marketing messages, like this email Spotify sent to a Lady Antebellum fan.

Targeted Email Marketing

3. Email design will finally shift to mobile-first

As of July 2015, 49% of emails are being opened on a mobile device (Litmus). You know what that means? We’ve reached the tipping point for mobile email marketing. It’s time to start shifting the focus, if you haven’t already. In 2016, optimizing emails for mobile devices will become top-of-mind for all marketers, so much that it’ll actually be common sense. Without going into too much detail, this means:

  • Responsive, minimalist design
  • Concise content
  • Finger-friendly buttons
  • Readable font sizes.

Assuming you’re monitoring your email analytics, it’ll become an absolute necessity that you track the most popular email clients used to view your emails. Last month, for example, we found that:

  • 25-45% of email opens were on Gmail (which combines mobile and desktop)
  • 13-30% of email opens were on iPhone

As you can see, we’ve also hit the tipping point here at Vendasta. So you best believe we’re monitoring Gmail on mobile as well as iPhones like a hawk.

Tip: Determine the most popular email clients used by your recipients (using an email testing tool like Litmus), then review your renders for those clients to ensure they’re in tip-top shape.

4. Movement will complement call-to-actions

Movement draws attention to something within an otherwise static email. It’s also yet another way to stand out from other static emails. In 2016, embeddable content and GIFs will be used within call to actions to help strengthen the message and promote urgency. These will include live countdowns, social media follower counts, short video snippets, etc.

If done correctly, this movement can dramatically increase click-through rates and conversions. Again, the key is to complement your call-to-actions that aids comprehension and/or creates urgency.

5. Lightboxes will be everywhere

Lightbox Meme

A lightbox is essentially a pop-up within your website where visitors download content or subscribe to a mailing list by providing their information. You may have noticed that we use lightboxes on our site. You may have filled one in before, or maybe you just saw one a couple minutes ago.

Email marketers love lightboxes because they effectively bring in new subscribers and leads. Consumers get annoyed by them because they’re fairly intrusive. But they’re damn effective. The common ground between vendor and consumer is making sure your lightbox offers something of value. This way, when someone browsing your site is interrupted, they’ll at least be prompted to download something they need.

Here at Vendasta, we’ve increased our subscriber rate 406% in the three months since implementing a lightbox! I’d like to think that increase is because I recently started blogging for Vendasta, but that’s not totally true. I digress.

Vendasta Lightbox

This data capture technique has become increasingly popular over the past year, but 2016 will be the year it goes mainstream.


In 2016, email inboxes will get bombarded more than ever. As a result, email marketers will be forced to be more creative and discover new ways to ensure their emails stand out from the rest. Super personalized emails, mobile-first design and embeddables will become the new standard.

What are your predictions for email marketing in 2016?

Blair Nordstrom

Blair is a Product Marketing Specialist at Vendasta and a connoisseur of all things digital marketing.