Every year, we see new communication channels explode onto the scene.
And inevitably, B2B marketers conclude that email remains the indomitable champion of ROI.
So in this article, we’re looking at 6 developments that you can take advantage of in 2017 to keep your email marketing firing on all cylinders.
1. Automation & trigger emails
Email automation, AI, drip campaigns, and timely trigger emails are all going to become even more important in 2017.
Using more (and better) data, brands are going to be looking to segment their sales funnels precisely.
In fact, according to Indimark’s annual analysis of what email trends people are talking about, data analysis, including the ability for AI to deploy emails to the right customer at the right time, was mentioned more than any other topic.
As you can see, data analysis (which includes automation) made an appearance an awful lot of the time.
For businesses, this means two things:
- Software supporting marketing automation processes isn’t going to be optional anymore
- There will be an explosion of SaaS companies offering marketing automation technology
- Customer expectations about the quality of their emails will go up
- For emails to work, they’re going to have to carry extremely specific benefits and value propositions
2. Email will cozy up to other channels
Closely related to improved marketing automation and using AI for data interpretation and email deployment is the cross-channel experience.
Brands have made significant strides to improve cross channel customer experience (CX). But as the number of channels that customers use increases, the quest for omni-channel continues.
In 2017, we’ll see email integrate with other digital channels more than it has, in particular native apps and chat bots.
We’ve already seen chat bots being used to effectively drive brand engagement.
The next logical step it so marry that functionality to email, enabling that software to send cart abandonment emails, retargeted emails, and other time-sensitive, targeted communications.
We know more about our customers than ever before. Brands will need to leverage that information to cater to individuals.
This will manifest itself as an enhanced commitment to the 4 Ps of marketing:
- Product: Offering products that the specific customer wants to buy, not the ones you necessarily want to sell.
- Place: When are customers getting emails? Geo-targeting in a granular way down to beacon-based email communication will help drive customer response.
- Price: Offering products that are within the projected spend for customers. This is especially important for companies who sell lots of commodities at different price points (butter at Loblaws, for example).
- Promotion: Is your promotion relevant to the customers? Again, a good example is Loblaws, who offers points promotions based on purchasing behaviour, so the right deal appeals to the right customer.
4. Videos in email?
With HTML5 it’s possible to once again send video in emails quickly and easily. Given the direction that Facebook has gone, as well as the general shift in content marketing to video, it’s not surprising that marketers will try videos in email as well.
However, there are few things brands need to consider before they invest in video-based email content:
- Not everyone will see it. The cost of sending email will increase if you’re creating a video and writing compelling non-video copy.
- Videos are often slow and clunky on mobile networks. Before they go all in for video, brands should check the devices people are opening their emails with.
It will be interesting to see if video in emails is an effective communication tactic for every brand that tries it.
5. Interactive email
For years now, email has been relatively stagnant in its technological capability. But in 2017, we can expect emails to begin to perform more like mini websites:
- More functionality with collapsing menus, animations, graphics, and videos
- More engaging CTAs
- Content loaded directly into the email to reduce the reliance on click through
One thing to watch for with interactive email is going to be the weight. Just like websites got completely carried away with the full spectrum of functionality, it’ll be easy for email to do the same thing – and have loading lag kill an otherwise positive user experience.
6. Email designed to be read out loud
The last prediction we have is that 2017 will see emails being read out loud a lot more often. Services like Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant, and Cortana are all poised for this functional expansion (not to mention AirPods).
And it’s easy to envision a world where emails are read out over breakfast or during a morning commute.
It’s just a matter marrying these technologies.
For marketers, we can likely expect to see email begin to go the way of Google markup – specific development requirements and code labels to allow maximum compatibility with AI.
2017 will be a big year for email. It’s finally seeing some changes to the deliverable rather than just the back end tracking and deployment advances that have driven email forward for the last few years.
For brands, this means trialling new creative like video, animation, and new experiences like interactive email.
But we can’t forget the importance of data, marketing automation, and personalization. As segmentation gets finer and finer, AI is going to be an essential helper for email marketers.
The good news for brands is that while the demand on their email marketing quality is going up, we can expect the rise of plenty of new tools to help them. Emails will get more modular to build, with intuitive drag and drop tools and WYSIWYG interfaces.
We’re pretty excited about the prospects ahead.
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