March 12, 2018 (Updated: May 4, 2023)
Email is more than four decades old, and email marketing (and spam) have been around for nearly as long. Though people almost immediately realized the implications of this platform for commercial purposes, email marketing looks completely different now than it did when the world went online in 1991.
The Data Protection Act
Emails presented a far cheaper avenue for marketers than phone calls or snail mail, but one of the earliest changes with consumers in mind was the Data Protection Act. This Act, passed in 1998, required marketers to include a way for readers to opt out of receiving future marketing messages. The CAN-SPAM Act (2003), the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (2003), and the Sender Policy Framework (2004) were other early milestones that have shaped modern email marketing practices.
The Rise of Mobile
Image via Flickr by garryknight
Mobile devices began to flood the market around 2010, and by 2012, almost half of all marketing emails were opened on mobile devices. Thinking about how emails displayed on these screens and how to link messages to platforms such as Facebook and Twitter forever altered how companies drafted marketing messages.
The Rise of Gmail
Gmail’s slice of total email subscribers has increased by approximately 100 percent since 2013. These accounts now make up roughly 33 percent of all email subscribers. Users prefer Gmail for many reasons, but the influx of subscribers has changed and will continue to change how users craft their email marketing campaigns.
Because Gmail has become so popular, email marketing campaigns need to be designed with Google’s deliverability rules in mind. Without considering these restrictions, email marketers will find that their messages to Gmail users go straight to the spam folder or to the “Social” or “Promotions” folders. More specifically, Gmail has a few snags that are changing the best practices for email marketing:
Modern Spam Filters
Spam is as old as email itself. But thankfully, we have more control over keeping spam out of our primary inboxes and unsubscribing from mailing lists. Indeed, spam filters are fantastic for individuals, but they create problems for email marketers.
Consider Gmail’s authentication system. To make sure emails go to inboxes and not spam folders, marketers have to understand various types of authentication, including:
Users are engaging with marketing emails more than ever. This is especially true for Gmail, which reports a greater percentage of all users opting to receive email marketing communications compared to services such as Yahoo and Hotmail. Gmail users are also more active compared to users on other email services. This is another reason why many email marketers have to prioritize this platform.
How Can I Create Successful Email Campaigns?
Creating a successful email marketing campaign is challenging but doable. Follow a few best practices to make sure your messages land in the right folder and that users engage with your content:
Email marketing has changed significantly throughout history, and we’ll see many more adjustments as users become interested in new types of content and as platforms like Gmail and Outlook tweak their algorithms. Keep testing your campaigns to craft more effective messages, and continue to respect your readers’ time and energy. Though trends will change, these two practices are evergreen in the world of email marketing.