Email marketing is constantly evolving, so it can be difficult to know where to invest your time and energy from year to year. It’s extra challenging in turbulent times like these, when consumer behaviors and business goals are shifting rapidly. To help you prioritize your email marketing efforts this year, we surveyed Oracle Digital Experience Agency’s more than 500 digital marketing experts, asking them to rate the current adoption of a range of email marketing technologies and tactics, as well as their predicted impact during 2022. We then mapped the results into adoption-impact quadrants.
In this post, we’re looking at the Unproven Opportunities, which are in the low adoption–low impact quadrant. The technologies and tactics here are not fully vetted and may not generate long-term adoption or impact. There are significant risks that could undermine your investment in part or entirely—including rejection by consumers, inadequate inbox provider support, inadequate digital marketing platform support, the passage of legislative impediments, and other issues.
Because of those risks, most brands will find that the best strategy is to wait and let others work out all the details, uncover the best practices, and stress-test the technologies. However, the pioneering companies who embrace these trends at this early stage may seize a sizable advantage over their competitors.
Of the 26 trends we surveyed our experts about, just two of them were rated as being in the low adoption–low impact quadrant for 2022. Let’s talk about each of them in turn.
AMP for Email is a set of open standards created by Google for creating what they call “dynamic emails,” which allow marketers to bring functionality that’s common on the web into their email designs, such as live forms, carousels, accordions, and hamburger menus. AMP for Email also allows for live content that is populated at the time that the email is opened rather than the time the email is sent.
While Google has been talking about AMP for Email for many years now, it only became usable in late 2019, so it’s still a relatively new technology. However, early momentum has been lost and many of the risks that we call out in our deep dive into the pros and cons of AMP for Email are still major issues.
For example, support among inbox providers is still limited. Besides Gmail, only Russian mailbox provider Mail.ru has fully committed. While Yahoo Mail and AOL Mail have been in beta since October of 2020, Microsoft ended a preview of AMP for Email, encouraging marketers to use their Actionable Messages functionality instead.
Support among email service providers is also less than universal. Notably, Oracle has yet to commit to supporting AMP for Email, which certainly influenced our consultants’ rankings of AMP for Email. But more than that, their opinions have been shaped by our clients, very few of whom are clamoring for access to this functionality.
“There used to be lots of excitement about AMP,” says Celestina Fisher, client partner at Oracle Digital Experience Agency, “but as ISPs keep changing things—most notably Apple—it becomes more unclear if this is the route mailbox providers are going to go.”
In addition to Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection, pandemic-driven staffing shortages, consumer changes, and supply chain problems have diverted marketers’ attention from AMP for Email. With so many challenges to manage, marketers have been focusing more on increasing efficiencies and tried-and-true tactics.
But probably most alarming is the fact that Google seems less enthusiastic about AMP for Email. After hosting a virtual AMP Fest in 2020, they didn’t host an event in 2021. They’ve also been writing about it and promoting it a lot less in blogs and the press.
Gmail through Email Annotations and Yahoo Mail through schema allow marketers to add code to their emails so that rich email previews are displayed instead of their usual preview text—that is, under uncertain circumstances. For example, Gmail allows you to use Annotations to highlight discounts and deal expirations, among other things, when your email is in the Promotions tab, you’ve coded your Email Annotations correctly, and you have a good sender reputation.
That’s a lot of conditions. Plus, it’s not an insignificant amount of additional work per email to get more visibility in each of those inboxes. And on top of that, the return on investment is difficult to see.
Despite all of that, our consultants see adoption continuing to rise slowly and its impact rebounding after a fall last year that knocked it down from being a Competitive Differentiator in 2020. But there’s still lots of skepticism, particularly considering other priorities.
“None of the brands I work with are interested in Annotations,” says Maninder Gill, senior account manager at Oracle Digital Experience Agency. “The ROI just isn’t communicated well or simply isn’t there.”
For a deeper exploration of Email Annotations and to figure out if it makes sense for your brand, check out our examination of the opportunities and concerns with Email Annotations.
Readers of our post on 2021’s Unproven Opportunities might notice that one trend is missing from this year’s group of low adoption–low impact trends: universal control groups.
It is viewed as having a greater adoption and impact this year—enough so to push it up and over into our high adoption–high impact Proven Essentials quadrant! It was the only trend to graduate out of the Unproven Opportunities quadrant this year and the only trend to jump from Unproven Opportunity to Proven Essential in the three years of this survey.
For a full look at all 26 email marketing trends to watch for in 2022, check out our posts that examine:
Looking for a better understanding of how all of these email marketing trends are evolving? Check out our email marketing trends posts from last year:
Need help exploring these email marketing trends? Oracle Digital Experience Agency has hundreds of marketing and communication experts ready to help Oracle customers create stronger connections with their customers, partners, and employees, even if they’re not using an Oracle platform as the foundation of that experience. Our award-winning specialists can handle everything from creative and strategy to content planning and project management. For example, our full-service email marketing clients generate 24% higher open rates, 30% higher click rates, and 9% lower unsubscribe rates than Oracle Responsys customers who aren’t.
Want to better understand your email marketing risks and opportunities, take advantage of our free Email Marketing Assessment. Our experts will check your deliverability, review your email creative, audit your signup process, do a partial competitive analysis, and more. If interested in this free assessment, reach out to us at OracleAgency_US@Oracle.com.
Chad S. White is the Head of Research at Oracle Digital Experience Agency and the author of four editions of Email Marketing Rules and nearly 4,000 posts about digital and email marketing. A former journalist, he’s been featured in more than 100 publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Advertising Age. Chad was named the ANA's 2018 Email Marketer Thought Leader of the Year. Follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Mastodon.