Don’t Get Deleted: Email Marketing Tips for 2021

Connecting with customers has never been easier. But creating meaningful connections is a totally different story. Going remote has skyrocketed screen time — from Zoom meetings and collaboration platforms to virtual events and entertainment. And while our digital world has gotten a lot smaller, it’s also a lot more crowded, making all of us a lot more selective about who gets our screen time.

The perfect example: your email inbox. You can probably grasp just about how many companies are vying for your attention by the amount of time you spend deleting most of them every day. And it’s only getting busier! Around the world, the number of emails sent and received daily is projected to increase from 306 billion emails to 361 billion by 2024. But for marketers, that doesn’t mean email marketing is a lost cause. In fact, it means exactly the opposite.

The Importance of Email Marketing in 2021

Email marketing produces 40x better results than social media. 91% of customers online use email daily, and they actually prefer to hear from you this way. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to open your emails.

“The volume of emails marketers are sending soared this past year,” explains Emmanuel Ulloa, Digital Production Lead at Assemble. “As a result of the pandemic, we’ve seen our Pharma clients asking us to help create specific campaigns regarding important COVID-related updates and other health news for higher-risk patients. But at the same time, their ‘usual’ campaign initiatives haven’t slowed down either.

“Even before 2020’s drastic digital pivot, technology was facilitating a desire for instant gratification and convenience, and now, a need to minimize in-person contact only accelerated trends like online shopping and food delivery. People have not only become much more aware and attentive to email communications but are also now forced to prioritize what messages are worth their time.”

The Top Email Marketing Tips You Need in 2021

As the ways we work and live continue to change, our perceptions as consumers are changing too. Here are the top email marketing tips for 2021 to help you create meaningful connections with your customers.

  • Write an Unignorable Subject LineIt really doesn’t seem fair that a 60-character space can make or break an entire email campaign, but it can. Relax — the “double opens strategy” will take off the pressure of nailing it on the first try. With this approach, you’ll send the same email message to people who didn’t open the first time, but with a different subject line. What may be effective for some of your email subscribers, may not be for others. And testing will help you learn more about their preferences — and what subject lines work.

    A couple of tips: always offer recipients some benefit to opening your email. You want to convince them that they’ll miss something important if they don’t. Maybe it’s offering a teaser or creating a feeling of exclusivity or urgency. It could be requesting an action or asking a personal question. Creativity is always encouraged — just make sure it isn’t misleading.


  • Keep it SimpleToo many marketers want to say too much in an email. Think like you’re writing for the web — use shorter paragraphs, bullets, and subheadings for readability and incorporate visuals to break up the copy. Get to the point quickly, keeping your audience’s interests and short attention span in mind (it’s only about 8 seconds).

    Shorter emails have a better chance at landing in your recipient’s “Primary Folder,” which automatically puts you at the front of the pack. Plus, if your “wordiness” makes them regret opening your email, they’ll probably never open one again.

  • Be EngagingOnce upon a time, adding video to emails was exciting. Then it was expected. Now, consumers want to interact with your emails too.

    “We’ve had a resurgence of clients asking us for new ideas for engaging email campaigns,” Emmanuel explains. “Marketers are seeking ways to turn events or occasions into opportunities to connect with their audiences, and they can use kinetic emails to do it. We’re currently working on emails for a client who planned a COVID anniversary campaign, using animated GIFs to create a sense of ‘celebration.’ For retail clients, hover-over content or interactive carts to create a full online shopping experience for customers without ever leaving their inbox. In other cases, it’s a simple game of Tik-Tac-Toe. These types of elements can help you establish a more personal relationship with your audience.”


  • Make Transparency Work For YouTo all consumers, brand transparency is more important than ever. So while creating a highly-interactive email campaign is a great way to connect with them, failing to deliver on it is like breaking a promise. “It’s important to find the right balance. You want this interaction to feel natural, so if it’s too complicated or glitching in any way, you’ll lose their trust. Make sure your media content is relevant and easy-to-use because if you put it out there, your users expect it to work.”


  • Personalize as Much as You CanA “Hey, Sam!” isn’t going to cut it anymore. Thanks to a major culture shift this past year, consumers are seeking a more personal connection with your brand. 94% of companies say that personalization is key to their current and future success, so finding ways to establish this connection is critical to standing out. And that starts before they even open the email.

Voice of Customer Research is all about asking the right questions — What interested you in our company? What made you subscribe to our email? What initial hesitations did you have? Based on the answers, you can create a couple of customer personas based on their previous behaviors or shared interests and create messaging that hits closer to home. 

  • Don’t Underestimate the Importance of a CTAJust like your subject line, your CTA holds a lot of power for such a small part of your campaign. It represents the result or action you want your subscriber to achieve, but it also has to be compelling to them. While phrases like “click here” and “read more” are action-driven, they’re also pretty boring. Use stronger command verbs and tap into consumer emotions. Aim to be a little more creative or descriptive; for example, replacing a “Learn More” with a “Discover Tips to Better Health” or “Start Living Healthier.” You get the idea.


  • Analyze EverythingAnd we mean everything. From subject line style or time of day that gets the most open rates to what devices your audience is using. Open rates, click-throughs, delivery rates, total opt-outs — all of this information is key to designing campaigns that have the best chance for success. Continue to A&B test certain elements and look for trends to confirm what’s working and what’s not.

    “Not all email clients will support certain interactive layouts, so it’s also important to know where the majority of your audience is viewing your emails,” according to Emmanuel. “The solution may be integrating a fallback layout function, or it’s simply going a different route so that no recipient is left disappointed. There are countless tools available today to help you understand what will make your campaigns most effective.”

For more information on creating unignorable email campaigns or to talk to one of our production experts to discuss your marketing goals for 2021, contact Assemble today.