Email marketing trends 2021

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28, January 2021


Email marketing in 2021: what are hypes and trends and what should you do with it? As a marketer, make sure you are informed and make conscious choices. From interactive email to Privacy Shield and dark mode: is it a hype, a trend or a given in e-mail marketing?

Of course, we cannot separate next year from the Corona crisis either. The survey conducted by the DDMA (in Dutch) in June shows that 72% of respondents see email as a more important communication channel than before the crisis. Many organisations are marking time in 2020. They are aware of what they do and why they do it, but they also gained insight into what can be done better and smarter. On the other hand, digitisation went faster than ever because many organisations – at first out of necessity – became acquainted with it and now no longer want it any other way.

Doing smarter also means doing differently, daring to make choices and often stepping out of your old pattern. Would you like to make better use of interactive emails? Then your CTR to your website becomes less important. Do you want to do more automation? Then you may have to (temporarily) stop your regular newsletters and invest time in automating.

Growth hacking may be a buzzword, but it also applies to email marketing. Experimentation is needed. Take small steps to eventually become as big as possible.

That was always the motto within email marketing automation, but it has now been given a nice term 😉 Read below about the 6 trends that we have listed for 2021 and consider what your opportunities are.


1: Stop newsletters – automation in place #1

Last year we wrote an article about email trends in 2020 , in which we headlined that automation was still in its infancy. In our opinion, this is still the case. A lot of time has gone into rethinking regular communications this year, but many organisations still have automated email flows high on their list of priorities.

How do you make time for this? Stop your bulk newsletters and put the time into the back. In your opinion, take that step back, but eventually move forward.

Does your organisation already have email flows running? Then this 2021, due to the changing current affairs, you will continue to update content. We also see that organisations immediately redesign existing automation flows or use them more creatively. Because automation doesn’t have to be like automation.


2: Smarter use through interactivity and creativity

If the presentation of the DDMA Email Awards and the Battle of the Agencies (in Dutch) have shown something, it is that creativity in emails leads to better results. Standing out online and interacting more with your brand requires a smarter approach and interactivity and creativity are important ingredients for this.

The front runner of all email trend lists in 2020, AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages), sadly seems to be falling right now. Due to the withdrawn support for AMP by Microsoft, the chances that AMP will become the new standard are dwindling. Apart from that, interactivity in e-mail comes with trial and error anyway. We think that most organisations still see email, however personalised, as a ‘transmission medium’. Interactive email functionalities, on the other hand, are often easy to implement in your email template . Consider a Tinder / Swipe function (“what is your preference), but also a carousel, countdown counter, video or search function in email are good examples.

Take a look at email with the glasses through which you also view a website. What can you achieve in the email itself? What can you get from every email as a contact moment?


3: Integrate purchase data for smarter transactional emails

The following trend ties in perfectly with that. Transactional emails, such as order confirmations, package updates and other notifications, are often opened the most because recipients want to have the correct information right away. Why shouldn’t you better use this contact moment to increase the overall service level? Broadly speaking, two major steps can be taken here.

Step 1 is redesigning transactional emails and measuring opens and clicks. The experience becomes more important and the consumer is more critical; so why should a transactional email be a boring, basic, automated looking email?

Step 2 is integrating purchase data into transactional emails, allowing you to set up product journeys. Consider, for example, segmentation and personalisation based on purchase history, product recommendations, loyalty programs, the stimulation of repeat purchases or tips and tricks about your purchased service / product.

Again, the following applies: do not think of “integrating purchase data in your transactional emails” as an end in itself, but as a means to achieve your possible goals.

A good example of this is the winner of the DDMA E-mail Campaign of the year Hans Anders, who has set up a very nice post purchase campaign.


Transactional email winner


4: Personalisation – there are always more possibilities than you think

Personalise and segment email. It sounds like a cliché that we keep on mopping up, but that’s not for nothing. Too much email is still sent in bulk and there are a lot of steps to take.

The other way around: aren’t you personalising? Then it can even work against you. Your recipient is getting used to more and more personal experiences in the inbox and an impersonal email can therefore be opened less quickly.

When it comes to personalisation, limitations are often thought of, for example because the database is incomplete or the input would make your expression prone to error. Think in terms of opportunities and consult with the professionals of your Email Service Provider. In many cases, for example through smart code, much more is possible in your email content than you think.

When we talk about content personalisation, you can go as far as personalising based on purchase behavior and interest and starting / triggering communication based on web behavior. Artificial intelligence (AI) and the personalisation of content based on many more data sources than just email then come into play. This often involves a CDP / DMP or data warehouse . So everyone in 2021 (again!) go for the personalisation; appropriate to the maturity level of your online marketing.


5: The dark mode – hype or must?

As we wrote in June of this year: we can no longer ignore dark mode in email marketing . The dark mode is an inverted color scheme that uses light-colored typography, UI elements and iconography on dark backgrounds.

Users of the most popular operating systems and apps (Slack, Twitter, Facebook messenger, Outlook, iOs mail) can switch to dark mode in no time. Of course, an email that looks good in dark mode will achieve your goals much better.

Unfortunately, with the current resources of the major email clients (Gmail, Outlook, Apple mail & Samsung mail), it is not always possible to determine exactly what your newsletter looks like in dark mode. Because as a sender you have no influence on what your recipient has set up, we recommend that you have your email template made virtually dark mode-proof. Don’t have the resources for it? Then we give you a tip of the veil: some email clients can target what to do with your email in dark mode, for others there are best practices in how to optimise your template.


6: Privacy Shield, Brexit and strategic data security

The Privacy Shield (the “data exchange treaty” between the EU and the US) has been rejected, and Brexit is signed. As a result, the data that you store / exchange in connection with email marketing also comes under a magnifying glass. We are happy to share the latest news with you.

The latest ‘news’ is that the Dutch Data Protection Authority is slowing down: “Exchanging data from the EU with the US entails the risk that as a company you harm the privacy of customers, for example. Our Irish colleagues are sounding the alarm and are investigating the transfer of data by Facebook to the US. The AP has not ordered companies to stop transferring personal data to the US. ” 

The AP, on the other hand, does call on companies to check whether personal data is being transferred to the US. “Because you may harm the privacy of your customers and you are in violation. Data exchange can be stopped in the event of such privacy violations. As an entrepreneur, you should not want to run that risk. Rather store data in the EU than in the US . ” (Source:

Your customers also expect you to handle data safely.

Apart from what the AP reports, your customer is also becoming increasingly critical. They assume that you have arranged it properly. For example, in the event that something goes wrong, customers are less willing to make another purchase from you.

At Webpower, data is stored in Europe and we therefore see that as a data-safe party we fulfill an increasingly important (advisory) role towards organisations. You can see data security very broadly.

There is also a great demand for functionalities in which access to various databases can be protected within 1 license or within a campaign (for example when you work with interns or new staff “from home”).

Data security is therefore a hot and strategic topic, which we will continue to work on in 2021 and here too you will see: first look back, before you make progress 😉


Questions about email marketing automation or taking steps?

We are curious how you view these trends. Do you have any tips, tricks or additions? Let us know (you can find my contact details below). Are you interested in the platform and services of the email marketing automation platform Webpower? Please contact us . We would like to introduce you to the power of Webpower.

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Sean Barten

​Client Service Director +31 85 773 99 90