5 Overdone Email Trends

If email trends are working for other brands that are similar to yours, why wouldn’t you give a sure thing a shot?

It’s a lot easier to copy someone else than it is to start from scratch.

But I’m not so sure. If that’s your mentality when it comes to marketing, I sort of think “What’s the point?”

As I was pouring through my inbox looking for inspiration for this post I couldn’t help but notice that everyone’s emails look slightly the same. Perhaps it’s a product of the stuff I subscribe to: preppy/girly/chic/androgynously-cut brands with logos of plain black Frankenfonts…the watered down result of key-stakeholders-only brand strategy sessions fueled by Powerpoint and Malbec. Bright pinks and mint greens star as the accent colors du jour. The “Best sale ever!!!” is promised in literally. every. single. subject. line.

What works works. But if by “works” we mean some arbitrary status quo metric, then how are we really doing?

So with this potentially confusing rant all said, here are a few trends that I believed are all used up. Let’s close the book and move on.

1) These Fonts


This is just a mere sampling of the repetition I see in my inbox – sassy-chic sans-serif and an elegant, sophisticated serif combination. Fashion blogs and magazines seem to resemble these font choices as well, and I’m not sure which came first – the chicken or the egg. Either way, let’s just call it. These fonts have had their moment.

Do this instead: I’ll break this down into a couple of different tips.

  • Go for a slight variation – There’s a lot of psychology that goes into font choice and why particular fonts send certain messages. You can still pick a font that gets across the message you want to send without copying competitors. Just a slight variation can keep your brand fresh and help you stand out.
  • Define the meaning of a font – In addition, think about it this way – was Tiffany blue seen as chic and sophisticated before the Tiffany brand started using it? Or did the fact that a jewelry company started using that color define the meaning of that color in our minds? You have an opportunity to define what a font means to people.
  • Create your own font –  Yale University did. Consider other iconic design elements, like Lilly Pulitzer’s prints, or Burberry’s plaid, and how creating something original was a huge win for them.

2) These Call to Action Buttons


Recognize these guys? Of course you do. While black certainly shows up consistently across browsers and devices, it can also have an odd way of blending in with photographs. “Blending in” is the exact opposite of what you want out of a call-to-action. Nevertheless, everyone is using the black call-to-action or the black outline these days.

Do this instead: Of course you need to test what works for you, and if following this trend is increasing conversions and simply making you more money, then by all means go with it. But I also encourage you not to settle – set higher goals. Push the envelop and keep testing. You may have something up your sleeve that sets the next high-converting design trend.

3. Those Letters


I think this email format picked up popularity with Barack Obama’s presidency and his hugely popular email program during the last election. Many bloggers, eCommerce website, and B2B businesses rely on them to offer a personal touch to their notifications. The intentions are right on point; businesses should be more human and real with customers. However, once everyone uses this format it doesn’t come across as genuine as I’m sure people mean it to.

Do this instead: Think about what other ways you can achieve your goal of delivering content in a human manner. Also, think mobile. Half of our emails are opened mobile. If people are on the go, would a video or audio format work better for your note?

4. Discounts Just for Signing Up

Just about everybody does a 10 or 15% discount just for signing up for emails these days, and it kind of defeats the purpose of newsletters in the first place.

It’s like you’re giving subscribers an A+ for the class and I haven’t even done my homework yet.

We know full well that today’s consumers like to research their purchases before they buy them. They ask their friends and Twitter followers. They read product reviews and search for blog posts about the product. They try to really learn about not only your product but also your competitors’ products before they make the purchase.

So why do we send them discounts right at the start of the email relationship before we’ve had a chance to nurture them with some educational content that helps them with some research?

Do this instead: I’m not saying don’t do discounts. Instead, focus on offering discounts to customers who need them most – abandoned cart people and people who haven’t bought anything in a long time. For new subscribers, teach them about the product and be useful in those initial emails. Concentrate on discounts later.

5. Sending Emails Every Day

Retailers are notoriously aggressive about emails. Increased pressure for opens caused by Gmail’s tabs have upped the stakes and made the emails more frequent and subject lines more outrageous. You may be helping more than hurting though. One Klaviyo customer, Top Streetwear, actually increased revenue 40% when they switched from daily emails to segmented email marketing and occasional sales notifications (a couple times a week). It was a big change to embrace a new mode of marketing, but the results speak for themselves.

Do this instead: Split up your lists based on purchase history and buyer intent. Market to people specifically based on whether or not they had bought before and what they have shown interest in purchasing. Do this instead of marketing the same discounts for everyone. Although no strategy is one-size-fits-all and you have to test what works best for your audience, the approach of treating previous customers differently than first time customers has worked for several different clients of ours. It may be successful for you, too.

Email Trends: The Big Takeaways

The number one lesson here is to question (and measure!) everything. If you’re doing anything because it’s the status quo, the latest trend, or what a competitor is doing, truly ask yourself if that’s what you want to be doing. Of course some best practices exist because they are common sense and technically sound, but even those assumptions can but nudged.

What other email marketing trends do you feel are overdone? Let us know in the comments.


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