Email marketing was ignored, under-resourced, and declared uncool and dead during the rise of social media.
Now that leased media is morphing into paid media, and paid media is morphing into blocked media, brands are returning to permission-based email marketing to find that it has new synergies, powerful new capabilities, broader integration, and fresh blood.
Prediction #1: We’ll see many more positive media stories about email marketing than negative in 2016.
It has always been the workhorse behind eCommerce, but now email marketing has become a driving force behind content during the meteoric rise of content marketing. Thanks to advancements in personalization, dynamic content, and predictive analytics, email newsletters have become “the new homepage,” in the words of Contently’s Jordan Teicher.
The Rise of Mobile
Email marketing has also become central to mobile strategies. Reading email has been a top activity on smartphones for a long time, and the growing adoption of responsive email design is boosting smartphone conversion rates to make the most of this opportunity. This holiday season has been a breakout one for mobile shopping and the momentum will carry into the New Year. Beacons, geofences, mobile bar codes, and app behavior triggers will further intertwine email and mobile in 2016 and beyond.
Prediction #2: The majority of email opens will occur on mobile devices in 2016.
Prediction #3: The majority of brands will use responsive design for their marketing emails in 2016.
The Integration of ESPs
Email marketing is also benefiting from broader integration across business functions, thanks to more than $6 billion in acquisitions of major email service providers (ESPs) over the past few years by Salesforce, Oracle, IBM, Adobe, and others. Rather than experiencing a wave of consolidation, where ESPs buy other ESPs, the email industry is experiencing a wave of integration, where ESPs are being melded into customer relationship management, digital marketing, and enterprise resource planning suites.
Prediction #4: Another major ESP will be acquired in 2016 by a software titan.
Together, these advancements have elevated email marketing’s stature and put it on a clear path to achieving the 1-to-1 marketing paradigm, as brands are increasingly empowered to facilitate customer journeys and maximize lifetime value. But it’s not just that it’s getting well-deserved attention again—email marketing is actually kind of cool again.
Whereas the email industry suffered an exodus of talent to social media and mobile during the mid-2000s, now there’s an influx of new talent, most notably from the world of web development. This fresh blood is driving the industry in a new direction, one where emails don’t always act like simple gateways to landing pages.
Sometimes the email will facilitate more of a customer interaction before the clickthrough to the destination, whether it’s through hamburger menus, email carousels, embedded video, or live Twitter streams—and sometimes the email will be the destination itself, where subscribers can take action or convert without leaving the inbox.
Pioneered by innovative companies like Rebelmail, interactive email experiences will bring new energy to the industry over the next 12 to 18 months as familiar web experiences make their way into the inbox.
Prediction #5: The first brands will offer checkout experiences that are fully contained within emails in 2016.
The cumulative effect of all of these developments is that email marketing will experience a second coming of age during 2016. It will be a time of accelerating competitive advantage for brands that are committed to investing in high-ROI subscriber-centric strategies. And it will be a dangerous time for brands whose resource-starved email strategies have never matured beyond batch and blast.
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Chief Engineer at MarketHive