Email is a mainstay in the marketing toolbox, but marketers need to continuously evolve their email tactics to cater to a changing audience. Join me in a leap forward into the future of email marketing in the 6th annual review of email marketing trends, changes, predictions, and constants.
Compiling this overview has always been a good excuse to highlight what’s happening right now, and taking a peek at what is just around the corner in 2017 and beyond.
So let’s jump in and see what marketing industry thinkers today have to say about the future of email marketing tomorrow…
Email marketing 5 years ahead…
How will email marketing evolve? Econsultancy asked brand side marketers: “Looking ahead five years, what do you think the single biggest change to email marketing will be?”
The following word cloud is the result. The biggest changes in the coming 5 years gravitate around Personalisation, Data, Automation, Devices and Content.
10 MarTech Experts Decipher the Future of Email Marketing and Marketing Automation
What will be the most interesting developments and trends? Ten industry experts came together on request by the emailvendorselection.com site and shared their views on what the future of Email Marketing & Marketing Automation will hold.
- Scott Brinker Marketers will rationalize technology stacks to achieve economy of architecture and Account Based Marketing (ABM) will remain one of the hottest categories.
- Pawel Sala Increasingly lower costs unlock a work-flow of data between web tracking, social media, BI solutions, CRM or ERP systems and email marketing. Making communication more personalized and relevant.
- Krzysztof Jarecki Artificial intelligence will take over campaign execution, especially for companies with large content libraries.
- David Raab Video is the up-and-coming functionality, easy creation will be accompanied by changes that make it easier to deploy and understand video content.
- Willem Stam E-mail systems move towards the data instead of other way around, senders will need more data-points to personalize communication that will drive user engagement.
- Benoît De Nayer Machine Learning will steer adaptive campaigns for smaller Marketing Automation platforms where AI will allow to continuously adapt campaigns to the individual customer journey.
- Jordie van Rijn The definition of MarTech will change as small market, ABM and dynamic content functionality comes together
- Tink Taylor Innovation will come from an explosion of machine-learning start-ups. For top-tier industry leaders, data is often in good shape, but it’s not all held in the same place.
- Assaf Ben-Asher Integration platforms are on the rise to extend the top marketing and engagement applications and increase service reach.
- Matt Hayes Iterative development on content automation in order to solve content production problems.
Read the full article with the complete and most juicy MarTech predictions here: 10 MarTech Experts Decipher the Future of Email and Marketing Automation
Email marketing trendbook 2017
What are the most interesting trends that could play a bigger part in your email marketing strategy in 2017? Email marketing experts Krzysztof Jarecki, Aleksander Heba and Adam Ambrożewicz from Expert Sender discuss it in their Email marketing trendbook 2017.
Customer behavior can already trigger automated emails. Expect chatbots to start doing the same. They’ll run automated workflows; send confirmation emails, abandoned cart emails, create newsletter sign ups, all personalized with data from the chat session.
- Email will shrink
Mobile phones are now the most common devices to access emails. According to 2016 research, the sweet spot for email length was between 50-125 words for optimal effect. With less space and minimal attention spans, expect email content to get shorter.
- Eye-tracking is back! and now for kick-ass email
Are you looking at me? Eye-tracking was mainly used for websites, but is now being used for testing email creative. It uses focus groups with real end users. Thanks to more affordable hardware, it’s now possible to run fast and inexpensive email eye tracking tests.
- Context makes real-time email
There’s going to be a whole lot more emails using contextual data, in real-time. Content will be based different sources including for instance geo-location, device, weather, time, (twitter) trends and stock levels. Based on real-time variables the emails will be generated at moment-of-open (not send).
- Predictive lead scoring is picking up
More businesses choose to have integrated models that are employing Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence to generate lead scores automatically. This is what we call predictive lead scoring. A predictive intelligence layer on the top of the marketing automation we will hear more about in 2017.
- Email will have a more conversational tone
Keep it real, be honest, don’t take yourself too seriously, write like you talk, ask questions that encourage your customers to respond. A casual conversational tone will help your customers better relate to you and by extension to your brand, thus, creating a personal connection.
- Machines will match subscribers with content
Segmentation and personalisation produce better-targeted emails but are often too time-consuming. We crave a way for content to be matched with our customers automatically. With so much data and content, marketers will look to machines for content matching.
- Cross-channel data will fuel the customer view
Channel data silos are going to be less prevalent. We’ll see behavioural, demographic, contextual and transactional data used across campaigns to give us a single customer view. Push emails with the right content with right timing to always-on devices.
Email Marketing Innovation
According to Econsultancy research companies intend to innovate their email marketing this year with more creative uses of behavioral triggers (66%), greater use of dynamic elements and marketing automation to reach one-to-one communication.
Agencies expect to see a bit less innovation for their clients, except for content messaging apps and the use of email as identifier on external platforms. Such an identifier can be used for for instance retargetting or profile enrichment.
7 email marketing predictions for 2017
Top minds in the email marketing industry have come together for some crystalball gazing over at Campaign Monitor. With predictions about what the future holds for email marketing in 2017 and beyond. Below a short summary. Read the full article here: 7 email marketing predictions for 2017
- Chad White of Litmus: Data-driven marketing will rule.
Data science is making email marketing smarter by powering better automationand personalization. But It isn’t “set and forget”, Marketers will zero in on the data points and behaviors that lead to value.
- Alex Williams of Trendline Interactive: Mobile payments will come to inboxes.
A native, fingerprint-based integration for inboxes on mobile that will allow 1-click payment from email in 2017.
- Matthew Smith of Really Good Emails There will be a revolution in email design.
With sets of modular templates and meaningful content components. Less time will be needed in the design of emails. Focus will shift to creating more meaningful content rather than constantly designing and creating the “container”.
- Daniel Codella of ZURB There will be an evolution of marketing automation.
With more options to fine tune automated campaigns like advanced segmentation and time optimized sending. Secondly, there will be more g pre-packaged customer journeys to help move the needle.
- Andrea Wildt of Campaign Monitor: Behavioral data will help marketers dominate their competition.
As consumers welcome smart devices into their homes and lives, marketers can integrate consumer usage data like sites visited, apps downloaded, or games played.
- Jordie Van Rijn of Email Monday Email: Marketing is reinventing itself by acknowledging Person + Profile + Purpose = Performance. I think this is profoundly influenced by tactics advocated in B2B marketing automation. It is changing how everyone (including B2C) looks at their audience value. I think we will see a rise of (predictive) lead scoring and matching.
- Ros Hodgekiss of Campaign Monitor: As we see email further integrate with other marketing and analytics platforms, I predict that more marketers – and not just engineers – will be able to determine ROI, but also see how email is influencing repeat purchases, renewal rates, feature adoption and more.
Top 5 email marketing trend predictions in 2017
So what does 2017 have in store for email marketing? One thing is for certain, it’s going to be another very exciting year for email says Jenna Tiffany of Communicator! Here are her Top 5 email marketing trend predictions in 2017:
- Back to Basics means smiling customers and more Automation
Research showed that consumers respond well to brands that get the basics right. As a result of optimizing the basic elements, the adoption of automation will grow. This technology currently isn’t being fully used. Optimizing from the ground up with be vital in 2017, so evaluate the basics you configured many moons ago.
- Strategy is driven forward by Machines that Learn
Email marketing comes from a history of tactical implementation. Over 60% has an email marketing strategy but the majority is at a basic level. AI and machine learning will drive your strategy forward in three areas: Sophisticated segmentation, Lifecycle marketing optimization and Intelligent personalization
- Email Content comes to life
Finally, cat videos in our inbox! Email marketing content can be more interactive, it can be more engaging and start to reflect more and more what a website can display. And don’t forget real-time optimization and functionality like including live shopping carts in the email.
- Data quality & trust
Trust is important. Make sure your existing marketing practices are compliant because the GDPR will come into effect May 2018. By taking an active stance on this, you can truly demonstrate the value and respect you have for using and storing their data. It’s never too late to start building trust.
- Modular Design builds a library of partials
Email marketing has now got to a place where the majority of a design can be dragged and dropped. Modular designs mean less time is spent on designing the email. Designers are still needed to build your library of partials – no matter if they are locked in a cupboard or not.
Read the whole trendy article at the communicator blog
The future of email marketing is already here
Is your Email Marketing manager already a Director of Essential Engagement? Len Shneyder shares why the future of email marketing is already upon us, although the rules of email marketing are still about to evolve in ways we won’t even notice until well after the fact.
Companies must have the vision to realize a logical step as personalisation of each message and say goodbye to Batch-and-Blast like Pinterest did. But what about Big data and Artificial Intelligence? Unlike Ultron, this AI will want to sell you something.
Len lays out six steps to get to a Big Data and AI powered email scheme:
- Get your Big Data house in order
- Lay a Plan
- Think 1-to-1
- Explore the provider landscape
- Pay for performance
- Elevate email in your marketing mix
Email marketing won’t change through radical leaps like jet-packs or better email technology. Instead through improvements to the ways that companies gather and leverage customer data and the systems’ ability to make automated inferences about user behaviors and needs
Email marketing in 2017 – Gurus reveal their predictions…
At the close of every year, the email marketing gurus of Striata get together and discuss their predictions for the year that lies ahead.
- Mia Papanicolaou – Interactive email will be huge and everywhere (with increased support for CSS), email will start to mimic our online experiences.
- Sheryl-Lynn Omar – Emails and digital content that adapt to a user’s age will take relevance and user experience to another level.
- Stergios Saltas – Less use of stock images. ‘Real’, ‘in the moment’, ‘slice of life’ type images are going to appear on email and websites.
- Alex Papadopulos – More synergy and dialog between the email designers and the email applications. Changes to Outlook and Gmail lead to a better inbox.
- Ross Sibbald – Going forward it will be about the quality of the customer’s experience within the communication and not the quantity of emails you send that will differentiate you.
- Adam Q. Holden-Bache – we are now seeing a shift towards using data to predict what a recipient wants, and delivering that to the inbox.
Four Unexpected Investment Areas For 2017
In the coming year, marketers plan to focus on building a better email marketing program mix and better messages. But it is more interesting to hear what email marketers are not saying when talking about their strategy and plans.
George Bilbery president of Return Path urges marketers to consider adding the following fundamental areas where major investment doesn’t appear to be planned for 2017:
1. Increase the subscriber list size
2. Increase list quality
3. Improving inbox placement
4. Finding the right email frequency and cadence
Email Marketing in 2016: The Best, The Worst, and What’s Next
What does the future of email hold? Since they don’t have a crystal ball, Aweber asked five email marketing experts to share their predictions during #Emailchat. Some highlights:
This is what we predict for 2017
Data will play a bigger role than ever
More personalization, more relevance
Holistic email experiences
The email design trends we saw everywhere
Interactive content, i.e. live Twitter and Instagram feeds
GIFs and emojis
And these brands killed it with their campaigns
Collaborative Fund’s magazine-style newsletter
Spotify’s “Most Listened to”
Movember’s fundraising campaign
The greatest 2017 email marketing predictions of all time
The fundamentals of email haven’t really changed in the last 10 years, in truth, Elliot Ross of ActionRocket doesn’t expect a sweeping change to happen and a lot of innovation is in improving boring things. But one day… So what is the direction we would like to see it go?
Easy segment of one marketing – if it works
There are some amazing things able with hyper personalised email, but only after we know when and where to use it. And the ESPs makes it simple..
Fixing the email production process.
The process of making a marketing email, from managing it to producing content to QA to personalisation, is disjointed and inefficient. Fixing this will enable everything else.
A focus on brands and experiences, not tech.
If we use technology to improve our emails, it’s imperative that it improves the experience — so we need to think in those terms. Technology for the sake of it achieves nothing.
Truly considering mobile.
Aside from tweaking the design, what do we really think about when it comes to mobile email? Mobile changes the entire experience, also because so much of it is shaped by social media cues.
The Top Email Marketing ROI Trends to Watch in 2017
Marketers should be careful not to rest on their laurels when it comes to this “oldie but goodie” marketing tool and keep up with changing trends. Email may be a long-established communication format, but today’s email marketing strategies can’t afford to be old-fashioned.
Live and breathe mobile first
The rise of mobile means all age groups are using their smartphones to check email, with Millennials leading the charge. Marketers should experiment with sending emails in the early morning or late at night for this audience subset. Brands absolutely must think mobile-first or risk alienating the users that live and breathe with mobile.
Channels add further degrees of details
Email marketing can work in tandem with larger campaigns across channels. If you’ve got a great campaign happening on social channels like Facebook or Instagram, email can further describe the campaign with supplemental, relevant details.
Taking visual impact cues from social
When targeting email for Millennials especially, brands should take their cues from social. Optimizing emails for great visuals and using emojis strategically will appeal to an age group that increasingly relies on visuals to communicate.
Future Trends in Email Marketing for 2017
The Monks Predict
Four predictions for email marketing in 2017
What is the future of email marketing? Expect nothing to change with email in 2017, until marketers start acting on the trends and rethink their email strategy. Ryan Phellan hopes to see more marketers become “first-person” marketers. For these active marketers, he crafted this must-do, must-look-into topics list based on his predictions and trends for 2017.
1) In 2017 more email marketers choose first-person marketing.
System, budgets, company structures and internal politics often won’t allow to make big leaps. So first-person marketers work hard for incremental changes. Change one thing at a time and build on that progress. Each customer is an individual, and every email gets them closer to marketing to their customers as individuals, not just another email address in a database.
2) First-person marketers will focus on wearable devices.
Don’t obsess about email rendering on a smartwatch. Mobile devices are all about notifications of information rather than the information itself. Marketers need to figure out what customers expect and perceive information. What will eventually evolve the email industry is how the consumer uses that information.
3) Marketers will catch up to mobile-first consumers.
The first-person marketer will look at how their customers consume information, not just if they did.
We are in the mobile-first age; maybe even mobile-only. Email proofs on our desktop computers, we’ll look first on phones to see rendering and behavior. For email marketers, the issue has gone beyond using responsive design. Developing metrics and KPIs for mobile is what’s important.
4) Global privacy comes to the forefront.
The “private right of action” of Canada’s anti-spam law goes into effect in July 2017. Individuals and government agencies can now initiate complaints. Marketers will start reviewing their data gathering and protection practices to comply with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, which goes into full effect in May 2018.
The privacy debate is important to trust and relationships with their customers and subscribers.
What’s Ahead for Email Marketing in 2017
Keep these email trends in mind to guide budget and planning of your email marketing strategies in 2017. Six current and continuing trends.
- Improved Automation
More companies will use emerging technologies to better automate the creation, distribution, and management of email content. Email automation is expected to help save businesses time and money.
- Machine Learning
With machine learning, marketers can mine data more effectively. These tools are key for everything from email automation to better personalization and targeting.
- Mobile Optimization
Chances are that your target audience will access their email via mobile devices. This means your emails need to be optimised and easily readable on a mobile device.
- Visual Content
Yes, visual content is super important in email marketing too. Document a well-researched visual storytelling strategy around the ongoing delivery of valuable information through visual media.
- Integration of marketing channels
Integrate your email campaigns across channels. Email is a great tool for supporting campaigns on social and other channels.
- Compelling Writing
From subject line to the body copy. It is all about compelling, creative content that tells a story about your brand and your products and services.
Key Predictions for email marketing in 2017
Orchestrate sees email coming back with a vengeance. Cognitive of the benefits of email marketing they predict what they see as the trends email marketing is most likely to follow in the year 2017.
- The rising adoption of responsive email design is increasing the conversion rates on smartphones.
- Automated emails become important to address the need for a better personalised customer experience.
- Innovation in triggers for automated emailing make campaigns more timely and relevant to the subscribers.
- Integrating email marketing with CRM and ERP will bring that elusive one-to-one communication with customers closer.
- Modular templates make running campaigns much more accessible and can drive adoption of email automation.
- Drag-and-drop technology will make email marketing simpler and more convenient.
- Kinetic email makes it possible for marketers to develop engaging and eye-catching campaigns that are much more distinct a recipient’s inbox.
- By applying machine learning and data mining, marketers can use their email marketing toolkit to improve results and drive profits.
Looking back at the Future of email marketing
Do you have the 1.21 Jiggawats it takes? Technical development in email and marketing automation has been spectacular in the last year. And I have the feeling that in this quickly-evolving world we are nowhere close to seeing the end of technical possibilities and creativity.
If you could go back to the future, what would you say to yourself? These are the previous “future of email marketing” predictions.
The future of email marketing 2016 edition
The future of email marketing 2015 edition
These Trends show the Future and Evolution of Email Marketing (2014)
The future of email marketing 2013 edition
The future of Email marketing 2012 edition
Email marketing insights for 2011
PS: As more and more future of email marketing articles are published, I’ll be updating this list. If you have any additions, comments, questions or just like to say HI, do post it below.