Although the global economy appears to be on the mend, smart companies are finding ways to get the most out of their marketing efforts. For many, maximizing mailing lists is a good way to do that. Email marketing showed strong growth in 2009 and according to several surveys, a sizable percentage of companies will either increase or maintain their email marketing budgets in 2010.

Where should they focus their investments? As part of email marketing solutions provider StrongMail’s latest Email Breakthrough Report, a team of email marketing veterans reviewed hundreds of recent email campaigns and came up with a list of trends that email marketers should be looking at in early 2010.

Those trends are:

  • Dynamic content. This ranges from personalization on an individual user basis to broader geotargeting. The key, StrongMail says, is offering up a “relevant experience“.
  • Concise, impactful layouts. When it comes to email marketing, looks matter. StrongMail suggests that keeping email layouts simple so that the message is readily apparent to recipients.
  • Time sensitive promotions. Not surprisingly, when recipients are given a call to action that requires urgent action, better results can be expected.
  • Clear, visual call-to-actions. Again, looks matter. StrongMail suggests that images be used strategically, particularly with a call-to-action, to boost clickthrough rates.
  • Social media integration. According to StrongMail, email marketers are adopting social media. How they do it ranges from providing in-email links to Twitter and Facebook accounts to developing programs that incentivize recipients to make a referral to a friend.

The first four trends are obviously not new to experienced email marketers. Indeed, StrongMail notes that email marketers have been going “back to basics“. But the clever ones always execute the basics with some level of creativity.

And when it comes to getting creative, the last trend — social media — stands out as a place where email marketers may be able to do the most. As an example, StrongMail points to Gogo Inflight Internet’s Gogo Holiday Referral Campaign as an example of how social media can be applied to email marketing.

In an effort to drive user adoption, Gogo offered all recipients of its email campaign a free internet session in exchange for signing up. But it upped the ante by encouraging recipients to refer their friends by rewarding them an additional free session for each new member they recruited. To incentivize recipients to invite lots of friends, Gogo offered the person with the most referrals a free year of service. Simple, yes, but certainly more inspired than a standard ‘give our service a shot‘ come-on.

It’d be hard to believe that most email marketers can’t come up with ways to develop enticing campaigns that are relevant to their recipients and which combine social media with the basics. For those who take the initiative, 2010 could be a great year.

Photo credit: Fletcher Prince via Flickr.