Illustration of email marketing trends for energy utilities

Top 5 Email Marketing Trends for 2021

In digital marketing, continuous change is the one thing that will never change. After a tumultuous 2020 that showed us how critical it is to maintain strong customer relationships, it’s more important than ever to stay ahead of the latest email marketing trends. Sure, the tortilla wrap TikTok trend might not prove valuable for our work, but there are plenty other marketing trends that are important for energy utilities.

Let’s review some of the top email marketing trends we see for 2021. With these ideas in mind, your energy utility is sure to keep your brand ahead of the curve and on the path to greater customer engagement and satisfaction.

1. Personalization

Example of personalization used in email marketing trends

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again — customers expect communications that are tailored to their specific needs and interests. Customer segmentation has been proven to increase digital engagement, with research showing that personalized messages improve click-through rates by 14% and conversions by 10%.

Maureen Huss, Questline Digital Group Account Director, has seen exciting growth in customer engagement by using targeted, industry-specific content in solutions such as eNewsletters. “We’ve seen dramatic increases in engagement specifically from business audiences in education, healthcare and manufacturing by segmenting content that speaks directly to their needs,” she says. “When comparing these metrics to communications without targeted content, our clients are seeing the impact that personalization truly makes.”

We suggest:

2. Automated campaigns

Example of anniversary email used in email marketing trends

Automated campaigns, also known as “drip” campaigns,go hand-in-hand with personalization as they are tailored to the actions of an individual. Emails in these campaigns are triggered when a customer performs a certain action, such as sending the customer product recommendations after they purchase a smart thermostat from your energy utility marketplace.

These emails give the customer a better sense of control over their overflowing inbox. When customers receive emails based on topics they’ve been looking for, they connect with the message, instead of feeling fatigued by one-off promotional emails.

We suggest:

  • An automated Welcome Series campaign to say hello to new or moving customers, triggered when they sign up for service. Our 2021 Energy Utility Benchmarks data shows 2020 had the highest engagement rates in Benchmarks history with a 51.3% open rate and 11.2% click-through rate.
  • Anniversary emails celebrating a year of service for your customers. These emails let customers know that their energy utility is thinking of them, and that they are more than just another bill payment.
  • Send recommended products or cart-reminder emails to customers depending on their behavior on your energy utility marketplace.

3. Interactive emails

Example of interactive content used in email marketing trends

Interactive elements within an email tend to boost customer engagement as customers can find exactly what they’re looking for within the email itself. They no longer have to go through numerous clicks to reach the right page — interactive elements create a seamless user experience right in the email itself. When you make it easier for customers to complete an action, you increase the likelihood of them actually doing so.

We suggest:

  • Animated buttons and CTAs
  • Rollover effects to show products or services
  • Interactive image carousels that can be controlled by the customer
  • Quizzes or games within the email

4. Email design trends

Example of colorful design used in email marketing trends
Example of dark mode used in email marketing trends

As fashion trends change each year, so does email design. In 2021, customers are looking for bold and bright colors that help your message stand out. Color attracts attention and is also a great way to evoke emotion and drive action — you can make a customer feel excited about a new product using a bright yellow or feel calm about a change in billing plans with a light blue.

Customers also want clear and concise copy that makes emails easier to read. As we all know, attention spans are shorter than ever, which means copy needs to be shorter as well. Get to the point quickly using bullet points or icons.

In addition, dark mode has stood out as a major trend this year, allowing customers to adjust the brightness of the content they’re consuming. Many customers use this feature for low-light or nighttime environments, as it is easier on the eyes and can improve content legibility. (Or they simply like the look of it better.)

“Users want to look at their phone or computers the way they choose,” explains Joe Pifher, Questline Digital Creative Director. “If we dictate how they see it, and not allow them to personalize it to their liking, it won’t be the best user experience.” Dark mode needs to be considered in the design of your emails to ensure copy and imagery can still be read easily no matter what mode they choose.

We suggest:

  • Using your brand colors in bold ways to make your content stand out, evoke emotions and drive action
  • Adjusting email design to be compatible with dark mode
  • Un-cluttering your copy with the use of bullet points or short paragraphs

5. Multichannel marketing

Example of multichannel marketing used in email marketing trends
Example of multichannel marketing for email marketing trends

Although digital marketing is critical, traditional marketing is still alive and well and should be utilized to expand your promotions beyond smartphones and laptops. Multichannel marketing works because it meets customers where they are, including through email, social media, video, direct mail and more. Through cross-channel engagement, you can feel confident that your energy utility’s message is reaching customers.

“It’s not only about deciding where to share and promote your content,” advises Alexandra Greenberg, Questline Digital Content Strategist, “you need to keep your strategy in mind as you plan and create, too. Consider your target audience as you write to ensure your content is relevant and accessible across multiple channels.” 

We suggest:

  • Creating a strategy for each unique campaign that repurposes elements of the campaign to be used on multiple platforms

Email marketing trends get personal

What do personalization, automation, interactivity, design and multichannel marketing all have in common? People.

The main takeaway for this year is that it’s all about your customers. If the coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that people crave human interactions and connection. By focusing on a customer-centric experience and their needs, it will set up your energy utility for digital marketing success.

Download the 2021 Energy Utility Benchmarks Report to see how your email performance metrics compare to industry trends.