The Dutch Association for data & marketing (DDMA) and the Global Data & Marketing Alliance (GDMA) have created the first International Email Benchmark in partnership with email service providers (ESPs) from around the world. The benchmark helps to strengthen the position of email as a communication channel and provides practical insights for organisations to measure their own email practices against. The study looks at three major international email trends: the increasing availability of AI-driven content and creation, the importance of email in a privacy-first world, and the role of AI and BIMI in improving email deliverability. The goal of the benchmark is to provide agencies, brands, and ESPs with up-to-date trends and figures.

Adnan Khan, Co-founder of Stitch, member of the MA’s Digital Special Interest Group and long time friend of the MA has summarised the report and has given us his insight into the top 3 email marketing trends to watch out for in 2023. 

1) As AI-driven content creation becomes more widely available, it is natural to wonder if creative professionals should be concerned about the potential impact on their work.

  • AI can be used to create dynamic subject lines and call-to-actions through the use of AI writing tools.
  • AI and machine learning can be used to personalise content through the use of data-driven marketing platforms, marketing automation tools, and email service providers.
  • It is advisable for organisations to start preparing for the increased use of AI by collecting more detailed customer behavior data and enabling the use of zero- or first-party data throughout the organisation.
While AI may cause some anxiety for marketers, those who are committed to improving the customer experience and building stronger relationships with consumers can benefit greatly from its use. The potential benefits outweigh the risks.

2) In the era of increasing focus on privacy, email marketing is well-positioned to succeed.
  • The Apple Mail Privacy Protection feature can make it difficult to accurately measure email marketing success using open rates. Marketers should focus on other metrics.
  • As third-party cookies become less prevalent, email will be an important way to collect voluntary zero-party data and first-party data, and to foster relationships with customers.
  • It is essential for email and customer relationship management (CRM) teams to work closely with other marketing teams within the organisation to maximize the benefits of email as a channel for gathering information from customers and understanding their preferences.

What is zero- and first-party data? 

Zero-party data refers to information that customers actively and intentionally share with a company, such as through surveys or preference centers. This data can provide insight into who customers are and what they are interested in.

First-party data is information that is collected passively from customers through their interactions with a company's systems and platforms, such as websites, apps, or social media pages. A customer data platform (CDP) or customer relationship management (CRM) system is often the most effective way to gather first-party data.

3) The use of AI and BIMI (Brand Indicators for Message Identification) can help improve email deliverability.

  • Deliverability is an ongoing process that requires ongoing attention and monitoring of results. Utilising the resources and tools provided by your email service provider (ESP) can be helpful in this regard.
  • Deliverability involves more than just technical considerations, as it also involves the content of the emails (such as engagement and personalisation) and the data used (such as segmentation and customer behavior).
  • Collaborating with your ESP to properly authenticate your domain and implement the right strategies is important for maintaining good deliverability.

Leaning into these trends and insights in 2023 will help you enhance your brand or your organisation’s email marketing efforts. It is clear that AI, changes in deliverability, and restrictions from email providers like Apple Mail Privacy Protection, will continue to shape and transform the email industry. These developments will likely impact reach and open rates in the future. To succeed in email marketing in 2023, smart marketers will shift their focus from vanity metrics like open and click-through rates, to measuring first-party data interactions and business outcomes.

Written by Adnan Khan
Co-founder Stitch