Top 10 Email Marketing Challenges for 2021

Social media, communication apps, SMS messaging.

Over the years, many channels have been cited as the end of email marketing. However, email is still considered one of the best ways to communicate with audiences. In fact, the number of active email users is forecasted to reach 4.3 billion by 2023.

However, email marketing still comes with its challenges. Particularly after the difficult 18 months that businesses and brands have had to navigate.

As lockdown restrictions in the UK ease, the rest of 2021 is a critical period for email marketers. With no time to waste, it’s integral that they tackle any challenge that comes their way.

To help, we’ve identified the top 10 email marketing challenges for 2021 that businesses need to prepare for.

Less reactive, more strategic

Over the past 18 months businesses have had to remain responsive and reactive, as they are thrown one unexpected circumstance after another.

Changing lockdown restrictions, changing consumer behaviour, and changing business models.

But as lockdown restrictions end and many businesses are easing into some kind of normality, it’s time for email marketers to be less reactive. And more strategic.

Notably, this means reviewing their understanding of their current audience, such as who they are, what they want, and how they choose to be communicated with.

Changing consumer behaviour

2021 consumers are not the same as those targeted just 18 months ago.

During the pandemic, consumers were forced to shop online. Meaning that even those who were regular high street shoppers had to get used to the eCommerce experience. In fact, by 2021, 71% of consumers were buying online more than ever before. Compared to 40% the previous year.

Image Source – Statista

This results in consumers expecting a seamless online buying and delivery experience. Something that businesses need to step up to.

Fortunately, with the use of email automation, marketers can send the right message, to the right recipient, at the right time to support the buying journey.

Increased competition

Due to the explosion of consumers shopping online, the eCommerce space has become increasingly competitive.

Fierce competition between retail giants, wholesalers, independent stores, and products that aren’t normally sold online have all driven up customer acquisition costs. Meaning that many businesses will need to up their game to get noticed.

Email personalisation can be key to achieving this in the inbox. Businesses can cut through the noise by offering a one-to-one experience between them and the recipient. Showcasing them the information that is most relevant to them as an individual.


Personalisation has been a focal point for marketers for a while now. And with personalised emails receiving a 50% better open rate and delivering 6x higher transactional rates, it’s no surprise.

But personalisation is being taken up a notch, and now hyper-personalisation is the goal.

Fortunately, AI and dynamic content are hyper-personalisation’s best friends. Enabling businesses to utilise data to automatically populate emails with images, messaging, and products directly targeting the recipient. This can be utilised in abandoned basket emails, cross-sell promotions, purchase updates, and to include the latest prices and availability.

Integration with data systems

To enable advanced email tactics that will help marketers to stand out in a saturated and competitive market. Marketers need data from multiple sources.

From their CRM, EPOS and POS, finance systems, newsletter lists, and surveys. We could go on.

By integrating email marketing with key data systems, marketers can optimise their emails to be targeted to the specific individual, offering a much better experience for the recipient.

Once they have this data, marketers can use the correct tools to collect data, segment, create personas, and produce great content.

User generated content

UGC (user generated content) has become increasingly popular for consumers.

In fact, 64% of shoppers actively search for UGC before deciding on a purchase. So it’s clearly a powerful tool for marketers. And one that can be incorporated into email.

UGC can refer to photos, videos, reviews, and ratings. All created by the ‘user’ or consumer.

By utilising this content within email, marketers can showcase that they are a trustworthy business that others are happy to purchase from. And also tap into consumers’ FOMO when they see others buying specific products, or see their favourite influencer shouting about a specific brand.

Empathetic messaging

The past few years have brought to light the importance of empathy in marketing. A pandemic. Black Lives Matter protests. The #MeToo movement.

Some brands have handled these historic moments with sensitivity. Whereas others haven’t quite got it right. And when brands don’t get it right, there can be a backlash.

To achieve empathy in their email marketing, businesses need to ensure they are listening to their audience, putting their customers first, and being helpful.

And of course, have emails and messaging read over by as many people as possible for honest feedback.

Accessible emails

Email accessibility refers to creating email content that is accessible, usable, and readable for all, including recipients with disabilities.

As an increasing amount of consumers shop online, ensuring that emails are accessible to everyone is becoming essential.

Some elements of email to consider are descriptive subject lines, logical content structure, clear headers, strong colour contrasts, using image alt tags, and including a plain text version of the email.

Image Source – Litmus

Optimisation for mobile devices

As standard, more than 40% of consumers use a mobile application for checking their email. And since the pandemic, consumers have been using their mobile devices more, with mobile traffic predicted to increase by a further 25% by 2025.

With mobile usage and eCommerce increasing rapidly, optimisation for mobile devices is more important than ever.

This should include email text, images, and formatting. Alongside email subject line, clicking room, CTA colour and location, and pre-header texts.

To make sure businesses are getting it right, they should thoroughly test each email campaign across multiple devices, giving increased attention to mobile optimisation and performance.

Measuring ROI

After a difficult year for many businesses, all eyes are on budgets and results to ensure a more profitable 2021 and beyond.

With an average ROI of £35 for every £1 spent on email marketing, email has consistently been one of the most successful marketing channels for ROI. Yet some businesses still struggle to prove this.

To help establish an accurate ROI, marketers must combine their data sources to understand how many site visits have occurred, products have been purchased, or meetings have been booked. And be able to tie this back to their email marketing campaigns.

By using this data to help set up a closed-loop marketing system that tracks point of contact to final conversion or purchase, marketers will be able to accurately report and show off their fantastic results.

Are you keen to tackle email marketing challenges in 2021?

Then we’re keen to help you.

We have worked with businesses in a wide variety of industries and have helped resolve a wide variety of challenges.

So get in touch today to discuss your 2021 with our friendly team of experts.

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