What Your Email Marketing Goals Should Look Like in 2021

Email marketing is always evolving, but the events of 2020 have created more change in the marketing landscape than usual. It’s up to marketers to respond accordingly.

Let’s take a look at the email marketing goals you should plan for in 2021.

5 email marketing goals to build trust with subscribers in 2021

The upheaval of 2020 means that it’s time to get back to solid foundations with our audiences. Rather than focusing on a single vanity metric to improve, we’re recommending a holistic look at your audience and marketing strategies to end 2021 with a strong, engaged list of brand evangelists.

1. Know where you stand

How can you know what you should improve if you don’t know your own numbers? Rather than looking to external experts to tell you which metrics to focus on this year, do a deep dive into your numbers from last year and compare them to the averages in your industry. This will give you a clear idea of where you stand and where you should put your focus for growth in 2021.

In 2020, we analyzed hundreds of emails across the globe and across different industries. Here are the averages overall:

Average open rate: 18.0%
Average click-through rate: 2.6%
Average click-to-open rate: 14.1%
Average unsubscribe rate: 0.1%

Are any of your metrics significantly lower than the average? If so, that’s where you should start your planning for the rest of the year.

2. Optimize send time

Improving your subject lines will only go so far if you’re sending emails at a time when the majority of your subscribers aren’t online. Picking the wrong day of the week to send your newsletter could lead to it being buried by the dozens of other emails people received in between the time they received yours and the time they checked their inbox.

That’s why one of the foundational goals for 2021 is to optimize your send time. Like always, you should test different send days and determine which day is best for your audience.

But on average, we found that Fridays are the best day to send email newsletters and Saturdays are the worst.

3. Don’t use tricks

In 2020, we saw the rise of ethical marketing tactics. This suggests that consumers are tired of feeling manipulated by less-than-transparent marketing.

In your email marketing, it’s time to eliminate any tactic aimed to capture email addresses without conscious consent and instead embrace full transparency.

At Campaign Monitor, we don’t automatically check an email list opt-in checkbox and expect customers to uncheck the box if they don’t want to join our list. Instead, we leave it unchecked and invite customers to check the box if they do want to join our list.

Additionally, we also use a double opt-in. Subscribers have to click a “Confirm” button in an email before they are added to our list.

Finally, we have an easy-to-find preference center, where subscribers can decide which types of emails (or none at all) they want to receive.

This avoids any confusion and ensures that everyone who opts-in has consciously and enthusiastically wanted to.

Campaign Monitor email preferences page

4. Keep your list clean

Cleaning your list is the process of deleting inactive subscribers.

This foundational practice benefits your email marketing strategy overall because it ensures that your metrics are accurate, rather than weighed down by subscribers who never even see your emails. This way, you can make informed decisions about how well your campaigns are improving and what to adjust for better results.

To keep your list clean, we recommend first running a re-engagement campaign to see which inactive subscribers may want to stay on your list. Those who don’t re-engage can be bulk-deleted from your list using our new bulk-delete feature.

Animoto sent this re-engagement email to inactive subscribers:

Re-engagement email from Animoto


5. Honor diversity, equity, and inclusion commitments

Many companies renewed or initiated diversity, equity, and inclusion commitments in 2020 as a response to acts of systemic racial injustice. This year is a good time to ensure your marketing is honoring those commitments, including your email marketing. 

Last year, it was reported that as much as 54% of people don’t feel they are represented culturally in online marketing. 

So, double-check your emails. Are your visuals representative of all people (including POC, LGBTQIA, Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, Gen Z, and people with disabilities)? Are you avoiding assumptive language and stereotypes?

Wrap up

In 2020, marketers were simply trying to keep up with everything going on in the world. It may have been challenging to track metrics and keep commitments to 2020 goals that were made before the onset of the pandemic. 

Now, in 2021, it’s a good time to slow down and focus on email marketing goals that will help your brand stay relevant no matter what’s going on in the world.

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