By the end of 2016, it’s predicted that there will be 4.6 billion email accounts.

Wow. That’s a huge audience! As more people embrace email, you need to change the way you engage with your subscribers to keep up with their changing needs. To stay relevant, your email marketing best practices need to adapt to your audience.

To help you into the New Year, we have four email marketing best practices for 2016 to make your emails the coolest and most relevant in the inbox. Keep reading to learn how you can win with email marketing in 2016.

1. Contextual Emails

In 2016, 7 percent more emails will land in the inbox. So your job as an email marketer will become more difficult because audiences will be distracted by a downpour of emails. How can you be heard above the storm? Create contextual emails.

What are contextual emails?

Contextual emails are personalized to your subscribers. You can accomplish contextualization by sending emails based on the unique qualities of those subscribers. With contextual emails, subscribers receive the right email at the right time.

To create that awesome, contextual email that drives sales, write emails that subscribers feel were made exclusively for them. One easy way to do this is to segment your emails. When you segment your email lists, you are sending different emails to subscribers based on their varying pain points or interests.

Because specific content will resonate best with different subscribers, segmenting allows you to send the best content to the best recipient, creating more personalized and more effective emails.

You could segment your audience by their favorite color, their geographical location or even by their New Year’s resolutions for 2016. Learn more about sending personal, contextual emails.

2. Mobile Matters

Sixty-six percent of brand marketing emails are opened on mobile devices. Makes sense, right?

Just think about how many times your friends or family missed what you were saying because they were staring at their phone. When they finally look up from their phone screens, their glazed eyes say it all: mobile controls attention.

To grab your audience’s attention, you need to reach them where they are most reachable, and according to research and observation, that’s on their mobile devices.

So what’s the best way to drive email engagement on mobile devices? We have a few tips:

Responsive Emails

Use responsive email templates instead of mobile-friendly emails. A responsive template will respond to the device that it is read on, while a mobile friendly email will not.

For example, if you read an email on your cell phone, a responsive email template will resize the font and images and even change the layout of the email to fit the small screen. A responsive email often looks different on a cell phone than on a laptop, because the template may convert two-columns into one-column to increase readability.

While responsive emails respond to different devices by converting text size and layout, mobile friendly emails appear the same on every device. Since their design doesn’t change for small devices, mobile friendly emails often contain text that is too small to read unless you zoom in.

Below on the left is a responsive email. The text is more readable and the images fit the screen better.


Keep your emails short. Subscribers checking email on mobile typically have a few minutes to skim an email or two. Brevity is key. Otherwise, they won’t reach the end of the email.

Subject Lines

Optimize email subject lines. A good subject line is like spotting an adorable puppy in a room full of llamas. You pick up the puppy because who wants to get spit on by a llama.

How can you write a good subject line? Keep the subject line short (30 characters or less). Shorter subject lines have higher open rates.

Additionally, personalize subject lines by including the subscriber’s first name in the subject line or using a location-specific subject line. Personalizing your subject lines is another way to create appealing, contextual emails.

Finally, construct time-sensitive subject lines by stating when an offer ends. With a time-sensitive offer, you will create a sense of urgency for your reader. When they know they have limited time to act, they will act more quickly. For more information on subject lines, check out our tips on writing engaging subject lines.

Preview Text

Make your email preview text captivating. Behind your subject line, your preview text is one of the first things your subscriber sees. It’s like the kitten that’s next to the puppy in the room full of llamas.

3. Motion

In 2016, emails with videos and GIFs will capture more engagement than static emails.


By 2017, video will control 69 percent of consumer internet traffic. If you video it, they will watch it.

But does video encourage engagement? Yes. Businesses that use video in email campaigns report a 55 percent increase in click-through rates.

Although videos may not play in the inbox due to video compatibility problems, there are still many creative ways to incorporate video in your email marketing campaigns. If you’d like a few ideas, check out our guide to creating awesome videos.


Besides using video, add motion to emails with GIFs. GIF stands for graphics interchange format. To create the illusion of motion, GIFs rapidly display multiple images.

Because they are widely supported across email clients, GIFs are frequently sent in marketing emails. The motion in the inbox creates a standout email with increased engagement.


4. Wearables and Email Marketing

Wearables like the Apple Watch transform the marketing landscape. To best reach your customers, you now need to send emails that are optimized for a tiny screen on someone’s wrist.

By 2016, 9 percent of adults will have smartwatches like the Apple Watch, which means you can’t ignore wearables. Thankfully, there are plenty of tips out there on how to create great emails for smartwatches. We recommend experimenting with plain text emails, optimized subject lines and brief content.

Email Marketing in 2016

Our email marketing best practices for 2016 include personalizing your emails, optimizing for mobile devices, using motion like GIFs and video and writing emails geared toward smartwatches.

But we’d love to hear from you! What email marketing best practices do you think will be important in 2016? Share your opinions in the comments section below.8