15 ways to improve your email marketing in 2021

We’re sure we don’t have to point out the profound implications that the past 18 months have had, and continue to have, on businesses.

Brands all over the world have done a fantastic job of keeping afloat.

They have pivoted their offerings. Boosted their online presence. Tweaked their messaging. All to reflect their changing industries and audiences.

So now that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, brands can sit back, take a deep breath, and look at ways they can actually improve their email marketing moving forward.

We have learned a lot from our customers over the past 18 months, we hope they have learned a lot from us too. And we wanted to share this knowledge with you all.

So here are 15 of our favourite tried and tested ways that brands can improve their email marketing in 2021.

For brands, better starts here.

Focus on strategy

Brands have been forced to focus on agile, reactive marketing for the past 18 months.

Long term planning has been difficult as lockdowns, restrictions, and high street closures have made for an uncertain future for many.

However, as the country is opening up and transitioning back to a new normality. Brands need to begin focusing on strategic planning and thinking long term.

This of course means planning campaigns and setting up automations for the foreseeable future.

But it will also involve reviewing and setting goals, measuring success and results, and identifying new technology and investments to improve their email marketing.

Review results

For many, 2021 may have felt like starting from scratch. Particularly when it comes to reviewing and refreshing strategy.

We recommend that brands start by analysing email marketing results. This will enable them to identify what has previously worked, and what hasn’t. Then all of these results can be used within email marketing strategy and campaigns moving forward.

But 2021 isn’t the only time that brands should review their results. Instead, this is something that should be done regularly. By doing so, brands can continue to remain agile when campaigns aren’t working. And ensure the most suitable strategy for the best possible results.

Utilise automation

For many brands, budgets have been cut and teams have been reduced. So making the most of their efforts is more important than ever.

So if they’re not already, part of focusing on strategy should be the implementation of email automation to save time, resource, and improve marketing.

And there are so many email automations that brands can put in place, for instance:

  • Product recommendations
  • Re-engagement campaigns
  • Abandoned basket/browse reminders
  • Replenishment campaigns
  • Purchase and delivery updates

All of the above ensures that marketers are sending the right message, at the right time, to the right recipient. And they barely have to lift a finger.


80% of consumers are more likely to buy from a company that offers personalised experiences.

And in the competitive environment that brands face in 2021, they need to use every tactic possible to stand out from the crowd.

Hyper personalisation refers to using AI and data to deliver the most personalised and relevant email communications possible.

For instance, email marketers can use demographic, behavioural, and purchase data alongside dynamic content blocks to populate their emails with real-time personalisation and information.

This could include:

  • Recommendations for products based on browsing and purchase behaviour
  • Real-time prices and availability for products and services frequently browsed
  • Personalised and tailored images and banners within the emails
  • Real-time weather updates

The options are endless. And dynamic content enables this information to be updated in real time. So it is refreshed every time the recipient opens the email.

Automate welcome campaigns

Welcome emails generate 8 times more revenue than the average bulk email. And they’re 4 times more likely to be opened. So they should be a staple of any good email marketing strategy.

And with 17.2 million UK consumers planning to switch to online permanently. Many brands are welcoming an influx of new customers.

Welcome campaigns are a great way to introduce a new customer to a brand, set expectations, showcase their best products, share their social channels, and offer reviews and testimonials for reassurance.

Providing the perfect opportunity to start the relationship with new customers positively.

Promote social proof

76% of UK consumers research or get inspiration online before they make a purchase. And social proof is an ideal tactic to utilise during this process.

Social proof refers to ratings and reviews left by customers, and offers consumers extra reassurance and confidence when they are making a purchase.

It can be peppered throughout emails by featured star ratings, quotes, reviews, or images from happy customers.

Or, brands can use dynamic content to offer live ratings directly from the products on their website.

Feature user generated content

UGC (user generated content) has become a significant trend for brands over the past year.

Over 93% of consumers take online reviews into account when making a purchasing decision. And 82% of consumers claim that user generated content is “extremely valuable”.

UGC can come in many forms. Ratings and reviews, social posts, images, videos. And it’s all created by the user. Meaning that if a brand is struggling to create enough content, they can simply turn to their audience.

UGC can be incorporated into email in a variety of ways:

  • Use dynamic content to provide live social channel in updates emails
  • Feature social media posts from customers and influencers
  • Showcase reviews and ratings

Explore interactive email

Interactive email refers to content within the communications that can be directly engaged with within the inbox.

This type of email is already proving successful, increasing the click-to-open rates by 73%. And with videos, alongside other visual elements in emails, leading to a 300% growth in click rates.

The benefit of interactive emails, aside from the above results, is that they offer something more interesting than a regular static email. And they can streamline the customer buying journey by eliminating additional steps.

And there are lots of ways that brands can incorporate interactive elements into their emails. Including:

  • Surveys, quizzes, and polls
  • Animated buttons and images
  • Ability to add products to shopping basket
  • Interactive product carousels
  • Animated GIFs

Review messaging and positioning

Messaging is one element of marketing that many brands have gotten wrong over the past 18 months

With consumer habits, expectations, and priorities changing. Brands need to look at their own messaging and positioning to see if it delivers for today’s audiences.

Part of this process is understanding and listening to audiences. Brands can review their consumers’ browsing and purchasing behaviour, monitor sentiment on social media, and identify the products that have been most popular over the past 18 months.

This will help brands to identify the challenges their business can help resolve. And tweak their messaging to reflect this. 

Be helpful

Part of reviewing messaging and positioning should be ensuring that all brand communications are genuine and helpful.

In 2021, brands need to resist the temptation to send emails just for the sake of it. Instead of helping them stand out from the crowd, this will only add to the white noise in an already busy inbox.

Instead, brands need to focus on being genuinely helpful and supporting their customers in what still remains a challenging time for many.

There are various ways that brands can achieve this:

  • Focus on communications and content that can be used to educate and empower audiences
  • Only recommend products and services that are relevant and useful to the recipient
  • Ensure the tone of emails is empathetic and reflects the mood of the recipients
  • Consider the types of products being promoted, now is a financially difficult time for many, so high-ticket items may not be so appropriate

Review personas

An important part of reviewing messaging and positioning is understanding audience personas.

Due to the changes over the past 18 months, personas should also be reviewed to ensure they are accurate in 2021 and beyond.

This doesn’t have to mean starting from scratch. For many brands, their target audience may have stayed exactly the same, or their peronas just need a little tweaking.

For other brands, they may be welcoming different types of audiences. For example, those that are new to online shopping.

Brands can revisit their latest demographic, behavioural, and purchasing data from their consumers over the past 18 months to help identify who they are. Then combine these results with industry research, feedback from customer facing teams, and even customer surveys.

Review email design

We’ve mentioned reviewing messaging, positioning, and personas. So naturally, we’d also suggest reviewing email design in 2021.

Email design is one of the most adaptable and dynamic elements of email marketing.

It can change with trends, rebrands, fashions, and seasons. As long as some core brand elements are always consistent.

The past 18 months evoke some particular images in people’s minds. Social distancing. Face masks. Staying at home.

Therefore, we would recommend that brands review their email design. Maybe simply to give it a fresher look. But also to ensure that the ‘new normal’ of their consumers is reflected in any emails they send.

Consider privacy

When GDPR launched in 2018, email marketing changed forever.

However, even in 2021, many brands are still getting up to speed. And getting data privacy right is still a challenge and concern.

And with good reason, only 8% of consumers actually trust brands to keep their personal information safe.

There are numerous ways that brands can reassure their consumers about their privacy, including:

  • Easy access to preference centres
  • Straightforward unsubscribe process
  • Implement double opt in sign ups
  • Review all legislation regarding online privacy, and include in all marketing campaigns

Get ready for Christmas. Early.

‘Christmas creep’ happens every year. With brands promoting the C-word in their stores and online earlier year on year.

It is an important time of the year for any brand. But after Christmas wasn’t quite what we all expected in 2020, many families will be making the very most of the festivities in 2021.

That means brands have to get prepared well in advance, working on their email strategy, and scheduling their campaigns ahead of time.

Fortunately, we have an entire blog post on what brands can do to achieve that, but to summarise:

  • Understand your data from 2020
  • Review your target audience
  • Implement technology
  • Set up automations
  • Create a schedule

Keep up to date

The past 18 months have been incredibly unpredictable for brands.

But these uncertainties aren’t necessarily over. Lockdown restrictions and rules continue to change all over the world. And buying behaviour continues to adapt.

Therefore, it’s essential that brands continue to keep up to date with these changes. Ensuring that their communications resonate with their audience. And that they can keep on top of the latest trends, themes, and challenges people are facing.

Brands can keep themselves up to date via lots of channels:

  • Monitoring buying behaviour via analytics
  • Tracking social media sentiment
  • Sending out surveys to customers
  • Keeping on top of news and trends via news sites and industry blogs

Looking for more inspiration to improve your email marketing?

Then you’ve come to the right place.

At Pure360, we offer an all-in-one AI email and web marketing platform alongside a Customer Success Team whose sole mission is to get you better results.

Get in touch to find out how we can improve your email marketing today.

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