Email’s death has been announced repeatedly, but it’s never true. It’s not dying, it’s evolving.
Are you following the trends? Do you have ideas of what’s coming next? Do you know what your competition has been working on, and do you have a comprehensive email strategy?
Careful, because if you’re just on cruise control, you will be unaware of the biggest email trends and miss making your turn onto the next highway.
Too often, we treat email marketing as an add-on to seemingly more complex marketing channels, like search or social media. These newer channels seem less familiar. Everyone’s been emailing for decades, so how hard can it be?
Don’t be deceived. Technology has added at least as much complexity and opportunity to email, the only channel that you can completely own. Unlike a search-results page or a social platform, email provides control over nearly every aspect of the messaging. It delivers a personalized appeal to the recipient based specifically on preferences and behavior. It’s 1:1 marketing at scale.
But to do this well takes mastery. There’s a reason for the cliché that you have to adapt to rapidly changing technologies just to survive. It’s true.
Want to hear some facts?
In research done by Optinmonster, in the US alone more than 90% of people over the age of 15 use email.
The rise of mobile email has made the channel more accessible than ever. Now we check emails first thing in the morning, while we’re still in bed.
This is relevant because it means that email is a great way to reach your audience, regardless of age or location.
This kind of reach gives you opportunities. But it also gives opportunities to your competitors. So, to maximize your opportunity, keep in mind the following:
- 📜 Storytelling 📜
You may be selling a product or service that solves a problem, but so is everyone else. The question is how do you stand out from the rest? You guessed it — your story must be different than theirs. So, tell your story.
- How you came up with the idea?
- How were you affected by a problem?
- How has this led to your solution?
Make sure that your story is relatable to the audience by using real-life situations. This makes it easier for recipients to see the value your solution will add to their lives. Storytelling helps you connect with the audience. It builds trust with you, the human, and, eventually, the brand. It makes your recipients see themselves as a character in your story.
- 🔓 Encryption and Blockchain 🔒
With consumer awareness growing, new privacy protections and the onus increasingly on marketers to prove consent, end-to-end encryption (E2EE) is more important than ever. E2EE lets you send emails without anyone eavesdropping. Even better, blockchain-based email safeguards privacy by securing the underlying infrastructure, protecting marketers as well as recipients.
Blockchain accomplishes this through decentralized systems like DOIChain (Double Opt-In Chain). This prevents spam by enabling email marketers to prove that recipients consented to join the list. Penalties for unwanted marketing intrusions, and the pace of life — in which it’s too easy to forget even which list you signed up for — are increasing. In the age of GDPR, such proof can prevent fines, legal fees, negative publicity and worse.
Instead of merely providing the DOI list and log file (easily fabricated), DOIChain establishes the preexisting marketing relationship between the seller and the interested party by creating a tamper-proof digital contract every time a new list member double opts-in.
- 🤖 Artificial Intelligence 🤖
Expect AI to be behind more and more emails in 2019 and 2020 for:
- Creating and suggesting subject lines and images
- Content customization on an individual level based on past interactions with other emails
- Predicting when users will unsubscribe by providing an estimated “unsub date”
- More email engagement insights
The secret weapon of eCommerce is detailed data about customer behavior. Data is being generated at a greater scale than can be interpreted using traditional methods. Enter data science. Automatic interpretation of data is critical for any business if they are to stay competitive. Data analytics now provides invaluable information about your recipients’ behavior, customer segmentation, marketing automation (like Klaviyo flows), etc.
Klaviyo already has some AI-powered features like historic Customer Lifetime Value (CLV), predictive future CLV, probability of churn and other features.
But we’re just scratching the surface here. If we can put artificial intelligence to work on email marketing, we open the doorway to:
- 👧 Predictive Personalization – personalized content of emails for each subscriber without the need for human tinkering, driving better results without increasing work time and budget. AI will also have a much better eye to reveal analyses that are not plain to the naked eye.
- 👩👩👦👦👨👩👧👦 Smart Segmentation – AI can segment subscribers into better and more accurate groups by examining demographics and purchasing patterns. AI can tell you what content will resonate most with your target audience at a personalized level. The best way to gather data for this method is to ask recipients to set preferences while signing up or after receiving their welcome email.
- ⏱️ Email Timing Calibration – Sending your subscribers frequent emails boosts the likelihood of them opting out, but if you send too few, you risk being overtaken by the competition. AI takes the guesswork out of the equation and determines the right times to send emails based on your subscribers’ activity history.
- AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)
Google released AMP in 2015 as an open-source technology to improve performance of web content, especially on mobile devices. But it has since evolved beyond that and is now being harnessed by Gmail (delivering 28% of emails worldwide as the number one platform) to provide dynamic, interactive emails.
Up until now, emails were either plain-text or static HTML. Through AMP’s media, dynamic content and presentation components, Gmail (and other platforms that adopt this open-source technology) will enable recipients of a new, third kind of email, AMP email, to RSVP, browse and interact with content, complete forms and other functionality that was previously restricted to the web — all without ever leaving the inbox.
And more innovation is around the corner, such as in-email ecommerce transactions, forgoing the need to click through to the website to purchase, as well as cross-platform customer journey analytics. The important point is to use fully your ESP’s and related apps’ current capabilities so that:
(a) you’re currently maximizing your opportunity and not your competitors’ and
(b) you’re ready to implement the advances you want when they become available without a long technology punch list or a steep learning curve in the way.
The alternative is to miss your turn and watch your competition zoom onto the overpass above you as you continue heading straight in what’s now the wrong direction. If you have any stories or questions about getting your organization to adapt, comment below — we’d love to hear from you!
Stefan Atanasov and Thomas McClintock