Welcome to the future of email marketing and Marketing Automation with our 9th annual review of all email marketing trends and predictions. In this post you’ll find everything the industry today has to say about email marketing automation tomorrow…

This year, future gazing literally means having a 20-20 vision. A vision requires understanding of trends. You want to make sure you see where email marketing is moving in 2020 and beyond. You want to anticipate on what marketers need to future-proof their digital marketing strategy.

How will marketers win in the ever evolving email marketing landscape? What are the new trends to look at in detail? What about those pesky prospects, customers, leads, subscribers and their behaviour?

Let’s dive into the email marketing and automation tactics and best practices you need to succeed. Here we go:

– your guide, Jordie van Rijn

4 Email Marketing Trends You Need to Know for 2020

4 email marketing automation trends 2020
John at the Wishpond blog tells us that “email marketing is making money moves”. Meaning email constantly adjusts, adapts, and advances with technology landscape. So todays email marketing is not your granddads. It’s important for both B2B and B2C enterprise companies to stay on top of their email marketing game. 4 trends in email marketing for 2020:

  1. User-generated content is an email-stimulated trend
  2. The definition of User-Generated Content (UGC) is any piece of content (text, images, audio, visual, etc) that is created by the (end) user or in some cases the public. Especially the gathering and showing of product reviews and customer feedback is popular in the email marketing channel.

    Knowing how, when and why to gather feedback is key. You have probably seen brands using feedback modules like thumbs up or down embedded their email campaigns. Or start by asking a simple question that then leads the subscriber to a longer survey. Adding gamification or interactivity in the email is a way to boost the response rates on those UGC campaigns.

  3. Responsive interactivity is a valued functionality
  4. Interactivity drives engagement. Responsive emails do well on mobile. Interactivity will go beyond just entertainment-value, in 2020 we are looking for functional interactivity. Promoting engagement, clicks, and other actions inside the email. Interactivity without consumers even having to leave the email.

    Hot interactive email elements heading into 2020:

    • Animated buttons and calls-to-actions
    • Rollover effects to showcase product offerings
    • Interactive image and product carousels controlled by the user
    • Accordion features designed to make long-form emails more compact
    • Surveys, polls and user-generated interactive content

  5. Accessible Content, Design and Code – puts email in a Future-proof Mode
  6. In 2020 we will see more “smart” devices, speakers and voice assistants. These smart devices are able to read emails to consumers. With roughly 250 million smart speakers worldwide by 2020, smart email marketers are already designing with accessibility in mind and picking up on auditory CTA’s.

    The reason to work on accessibility is that many users either have visual impairments, or another (temporary) disability. Yes, with a hangover it is harder to read. So we need accessible Content, accessible design and accessible code.

    Here are 8 simple ways to make your email design more accessible and effective for a broader audience:

    • Shorten the email content
    • Use real text HTML instead of text in images
    • Create a clear visual hierarchy in your email
    • Be aware of text alignment and avoiding long sections of center-justified text
    • Use bigger font sizes and line spacing
    • Use alt text for appropriate images
    • Make sure HTML tables are accessible to screen readers
    • Use semantic HTML

  7. Email marketing Automation full steam ahead
  8. Email marketing automation as a part of your full marketing strategy is a fast-moving train that cannot be stopped. Brands are using automation in all customer lifecycle stages and the number of workflows will increase. The reason is that Marketing software providers unlock more data, have improved statistical models and offer cross-channel optimization.

    Smarter automated email segmentation will lead to increased performance, customization and accessibility leading to… Halleluiah! A single customer view, ya’ll!

    Platforms are better able to support A/B testing and multivariate testing. So email marketing automation it is, while we are getting ready for machine learning and automation to rule the email landscape in 2020.

Read the whole article with John’s Wishes and prediction ponderings at wishpond.

As you might have noticed by now, this overview is “Trendslated”.
I capture and compress the essence of trends and predictions spotted by experts, and trendsplain it using other words, add an observation and joke here and there. All for your “ultimate trends overview” reading pleasure.

Big Tiny MarTech Trends 2020; Experts share their tips to beat them.

big trends martech email automation experts

What are the big and small developments in email marketing, automation and MarTech for 2020? 11 Experts from different fields share their most interesting Tiny but Big MarTech trends and give hands-on tips to keep up with these and other MarTech trends.

11 Experts on their Big Tiny MarTech Trends 2020

What will be the most interesting developments and trends to look out for?

  1. Shift of resources back from automation to real marketing – David Bessis
  2. Embrace the age of Micro Campaigns and the Marketer-Designer – Massimo Arrigoni
  3. Ecosystems, Experts and engineers build the second golden age of MarTech – Scott Brinker
  4. Automate your content creation for personalization at scale – Chris Marriott
  5. Enhanced Marketing Automation methods to add to your pipeline – Elias Crum
  6. Create a no-escape way to break through with AI – Jan Hendrik Fleury
  7. Add self learning pieces of the customer and product journey – Bill Schmarzo
  8. Find smart Helpers to upgrade your Marketing processes – Jordie van Rijn
  9. Interactive email changes sell the click into capture the conversion – April Mullen
  10. BIMI is much sexier than DMARC, DKIM or SPF – Jeanne Jennings
  11. Underappreciated marketing automation workflows make a return – Rytis Lauris

Read the full article with the complete and most juicy MarTech predictions here: Big Tiny MarTech Trends 2020; Experts share the tips to beat them.

What will Email Marketing look like in 5 years?

Econsultancy asked marketers how email marketing will evolve. “Looking ahead five years, what do you think the single biggest change to email marketing will be?”

The Big Topics for the coming 5 years are: …Drumroll please… AI, Data, Personalisation, Content, GDPR and Automation. Just have a look at this Word Cloud created from their predictions. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the hottest topic of all, as brand marketers look 5 years into the future of email marketing.

Looking at the 5 year trends in email and automation, what will be the biggest change?
Interesting snippets from brand marketers answers:

  • “AI, meaning a lot of decisions and campaign planning will become automated.”
  • “Brand distinction. While I saw a 23% increase in conversion using AI subject line testing, as the providers gained more clients we all began to sound alike. The increase was robust at first and began to flatline; lost momentum but not a downturn.”
  • “Far more automated and intelligent email marketing. Content will be pulled from existing sources and there will be less pressure on marketers to do it manually.”
  • “Email will become almost a ‘luxury’ channel – customers’ email addresses will be reserved for highly relevant, highly personalised content and brands which fail to deliver will rarely get a second chance. It will be one of the channels with the highest and fastest growing ROI.”
  • “Voice-based interaction. As people move away from using screens, emails copy needs to work equally well for someone reading it, or having it read to them.”
  • “Web-like experience within the email (shopping, purchasing, etc.) without the need to launch into a browser.”

5 key email marketing trends 2020

smartinsights email marketing trends 2020
A selection of smart email marketing brains share their insights and identified 5 key email marketing trends to stay on top of in 2020. Luckily for us, digital marketing trends are predictable based on fingertip-proximate data, we know which tools, tactics and technologies work.

Email is serving up a hot cup of benefits that other media streams struggle to match, as long as you are prepared.

Here are the 5 developments you need to be prepared for…

  1. Think mobile, act short attention span…
  2. The stats don’t lie, most of your emails are going to be read on mobile devices. Joolz Joseph points out that you should test email rendering on mobile and put yourself in your recipient’s shoes. Your email subscribers skim through your email spending only a tiny tidbit of time to truly read it.

    Unless… something grabs them by the eyeballs quickly! Whats your act-quick-now attention grabber?

    Keep the content concise
    Place the CTA spot early on
    Watch your image sizes
    Test and check-a-Render in all email clients

    The email marketing trend is moving towards simpler email design, minimalistic. Simpler email design is about cooking up easy to consume, delicious content that can be digested fast. Keep it timely, fresh and punchy. Smaller content snacks with higher frequency.

  3. Artificial Intelligence in email marketing
  4. Don’t be scared. Artificial Intelligence is here to make you look smarter (not dumber by comparison). In email marketing AI is mostly about automation.

    So should we call AI Automation Intelligence from now on?

    Marketing automation lines up relevant content with a individual or segment. It is making a match. The intelligence is in how AI systems learn from past behaviours to shape future actions. AI strives to completely transform the levels of relevancy that marketers are capable of providing to consumers (and that’s a pretty cool type of transformer).

    Tim Watson is a real Sherlock of email trends spotting. He uncovers the mystery of the missing AI.
    AI is in the Gartner hype-cycle phase of inflated expectations. It’s just a tool – but a better tool for targeting than the last set of smart tools.

    Main email uses for AI are copywriting and dynamic content selection. Dynamic content selection with AI works best for brands with varied audiences or a lot of different products (SKUs).

    As AI offers scalable right-content-right-send-patterns, there is less need for traditional segmentation. Which is good news as marketers sucked at (found it hard) getting segmentation right anyway.

    How you use AI is a better question than staying stuck wondering if you should use it.

    Big data and AI is the dynamic duo that underpin personalized dynamic content. Smarter tools will bring a range of applications in terms of personalization and segmentation.

    Chad S. White jumps in and starts reinforcing these points: 2020 will be a big year for the adoption of send-time optimization. More email service providers offer it, optimizing email send times based on historical open patterns.

    More segments and more dynamic segmentation is the future of targeting. Email segmentation is taking a big step forward in 2020, modelling based on RFM (Recency, Frequency, and Monetary value) becomes easier for brands to max customer value, but also to increase engagement and deliverability.

  5. Data-driven marketing set to evolve
  6. Kath Pay has been living and breathing email marketing for over 2 decades. She knows a great email strategy doesn’t appear out of thin air, and sees more rubust A/B testing getting an uptake. Marketers form a hypothes and use MarTech to do the test. Not just “running” an A/B Split test without research or hypothesis.

    One of the main reasons for a better A/B testing strategy is that email is finally being appreciated as a high ROI-delivering channel. Brands are like “Hey, I don’t want to leave money on the table.”

    Email marketing now offers credible career paths. The modern-day email marketer is avidly reading, taking courses, asking questions and sharing knowledge. They have a passion for improvement, driving them beyond the basic A/B split testing tools that ESP’s offer.

Read about these predictions and how less = more and trust in email marketing is the totally valid in the full article here at SmartInsights.

A big prediction for the next age of B2B marketing

prediction b2b email marketing automation

Old B2B marketing ways look outdated in the face of modern B2B buying. If you think your job is to send emails and find leads for sales; wake up!

13 years after Jon Miller, according to himself,”predicted Marketing Automation and changed everything” – he is coming down the mountain. Under his arm are new trends that should force a fundamental rethink and shake your core B2B Marketing beliefs. This fellowship of 6 B2B marketing trends have forged an alliance that will disrupt and change the marketing status quo.

1. Marketing is no longer the sole owner of top-of-funnel activity.

B2B Sales teams even start to send more email than Marketing, using automated email outreach tools. Personalized emails are often more effective. That means that marketing should help Sales reps own the top of the funnel.

2. Marketing is getting into some B2B bottom of the funnel action.

Bigger buying committees (12-16 people) in B2B means that marketing should do what they are good at talking with multiple stakeholder personas 1:1 during a sales cycle.

  • Expand Demand Gen to include expansion, or as I’d like to call it Expand Gen.
  • New measurements to include expansion pipeline revenue
  • Drive adoption and value for customers, to use your products.
  • Brand affiliation – try make your customer not just advocates, but model Harley Davidson way of how they have brand affiliates. So B2B Motor gangs can beat up your competitors.

3. The B2B “baton handoff” model is broken.

A handoff between Marketing and Sales doesn’t serve today’s highly complex B2B buying journey. The buying process is increasingly non-linear.

Marketing is about supporting sales cycles, accelerating deal velocity, and working more efficiently together with Sales. It’s called B2B marketing orchestration, and it’s synchronized, simultaneous and sexy-sounding, not sequential. Suppliers must take on the role of a guide to customers as they navigate the buying process.

4. The rise of recurring revenue and post-sale performance.

Most marketers only hunt new business, yet recurring revenue models and expansion pipelines mean the majority of revenue (80%) is generated after the initial sale. A fundamental mismatch that needs to be resolved.

We need to measure different indicators of revenue. With long sales cycles in B2B, you must look for other, important indicators of account progression. Not just traditional pipeline and revenue, because by the time you look at pipeline and revenue, it’s too late.

5. Account Based Marketing (ABM) is where it is at.

It makes no sense for B2B Marketing to feed on leads while Sales acts on Accounts. Now. Win. Deals. Larger. Use the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and Account Based Marketing (ABM) to drive growth. Results from inbound marketing are trending flat due to competition and noise. It’s not enough to market to either leads or accounts. A human, personalized touch is more trusted and effective.

6. Orchestrate human and digital touches

Can you hear the explosion of marketing noise? It’s more difficult to reach buyers through digital channels now, so we need to orchestrate multi-channel marketing.

Now that you have seen these six trends, are you starting to feel disrupted? Everything has to change. Buying has changed and you should adapt to the new reality. Marketing and sales need to work together as a team to generate pipeline and revenue at every stage of the customer journey. You want to focus on quality, not just quantity. You want to focus on accounts and people.

There are flaws, many flaws, in the marketing tools that Jon was instrumental in building – trust him, they are holding you back:

  • Fragmented data prevents teamwork
  • Quantity-focused metrics measure the wrong things
  • “Lead-only” systems create unnecessary complexity.

The newish term introduced is Lead-to-Account Matching (L2A) technology. With that you can build a data foundation so Marketing and Sales are looking at the same data.

Adding an honest observation, John certainly wasn’t even one of the first to predict Marketing Automation. Here is the original article on Linkedin where over 200 people commented on it being the best they ever read. But I wonder if we really do we really need more new types of technology like the conclusion suggests.

Getting the big picture for the future of email

big picture future email
A great marketer is able to look past the short-term to see the bigger picture and possibilities for the future. Go beyond just sending another email campaign – it is elemental! So Ryan Phelan takes a look at how the elements of email marketing can help get your program in shape for the future at Marketingland.

The future of email is like Minority Report and then up a notch. Focus on email as a data-rich environment. That email compatible data is everywhere in online experiences.

big picture future email

But how to get better results next year? A marketer should draw their attention to the optimization elements in this table, and in particular the audience elements (blue) and the experimental elements (purple).

If marketers want to experiment with artificial intelligence (AI on the chart), propensity models are already here, so you can already experiment with how your marketing will look like in the future (in a small way) today. Or experiment with voice activation (Voi on the chart).

Data can help us get closer to consumer intent. Relate data to audience elements and you will see how email draws you closer to your customers.

3 steps to plan for the future of email marketing

Here’s what you can do to move your email program and build a roadmap to improve your business and email program. Strategy before tactics!

1. Find your gap out of all the elements of email on the chart

Look at the chart and check which elements that will move the needle are missing from your email strategy. These are the gaps you need to fill. Maybe you aren’t looking at customer preferences or intentions in delivering messages.

2. Create the strategic path forward

Create a strategic plan to execute on your email marketing with strategies (the “why”) and tactics (the “how”) to drive your program. Use data in automations and rules for how to treat all of your customers.

Consider elements that you are missing from your current email program. Create a plan for attacking each element. How does that affect your short term campaigns or 2020 planning?

3. Get up to light speed and sponge up new knowledge

Make sure you’re up to (light)speed for next year, especially in the newer experimental parts and trends of marketing. Don’t wait to start learning, go out now and learn what works and what doesn’t. There’s so much we might misunderstand on “buzzing” new marketing elements or don’t know yet about them.

It is important to keep on developing and experimenting with new marketing tactics, some of these will become the mainstay for marketing in the near future.

Top email design trends to look for in 2020

email design trends 2020

Sherry at BEE shared her top 6 email design trends to look for in 2020. By analysing the email design trends from 2019 you can get a jump start in 2020 and focus on crafting an email design strategy that will help you see more results from your email marketing efforts.

1. Video in Email

Video content is only becoming more popular, well – at least the video trend is growing as more content is being shared on social networks being “rich media”. (do people still say “rich media?”). Up to the point that people posting content on Linkedin for instance, they’ll add a video of them scrolling through their ebook or blog post with overlaying headlines and subtitles. What a Wild World man!

Embedding the actual video content into your email design is tricky business, most email clients (outlook, etc) don’t support it – the next best thing being to use animated gifs to reach a similar effect and get people to click through.

2. User generated Content, very trendy

Did we mention User generated Content (UGC) is very trendy in email marketing? One application is to iinclude five-star reviews you’ve gotten, boosting some social proof in your abandoned cart emails. Or, source photos and images from real customers. A tactic to source photos, for example is to create your own hashtag and encourage customers to share photos on social.

3. Animation with CSS and APNG images

Animation, email animation, gotta love it. In the list of top email design trends, GIF’s and CSS animation are at the top to get people’s attention. It can be fun and create a different experience.

Remember, less is more or, alternatively, more is more when it comes to animations in email.

Newer is to use APNG images instead of GIF’s. APNG files are like animated GIFs, but allowing 24-bit colors and alpha transparency. Just note that they aren’t completely supported everywhere (yet). Gmail and some versions of Outlook will show only the first frame.

4. Email interactivity and the one question feedback survey

Focus on creating interactive email experiences. Interactive emails are a bit different than your traditional emails, as they let your subscribers engage with you right in the email.

An example comes from fret, that lets you use a carousel type “click to change” buttons to change the flavor in their email. The animations aren’t GIFs—they’re actually built with CSS animated sprites (with fallback).
Interactive emails are also a way to get feedback from your customers.

Asking for feedback doesn’t have to be pushy, awkward, or unnatural — you can still create beautiful, well-worded emails that your audience wants to read and respond to.

The email innovations consumers are most interested in

In our own Email Addiction research we uncovered the consumers use and attitude about email marketing. Because as an email marketer you want to know views and behaviors of consumers that have the greatest impact on your marketing results.

email marketing innovations

One of the questions goes into the email marketing innovations that consumers are most interested in.

38% wants to see emails that include product ratings. 35% wants offers based on their past purchases. This shows that consumers are looking for qualification and relevance to help the decision to click (and convert).

Surprisingly, the enthusiasm for location based email is also high with 31% seemingly no big concern of brands being too intrusive.

Native video in email, with 14%, is generally not thought of as the killer consumer innovation. Email marketers have been raving about video being the upcoming trend. But according to the popular opinion it is not a winner compared to a good relevant offer with supporting information.

Download the full Email Addiction Report here.

No-Bullshit Email Marketing Strategy Advice for 2020

email marketing strategy advice 2020

Jessica Martinez from KickBox asked 9 email marketing experts to serve up a zero-bullshit buffet of trends, tools and tactics to guide us through 2020. What should strategy-conscious email senders keep top-of-mind?

  1. Plan to develop A Future-Focused Strategy
  2. Your email marketing will never be successful without a future-focused strategy, says Lane Harbin. Don’t waste your your time being overly fixated on email copy and design best practices. Instead give yourself the gift of a solid strategy. Take time to plan out every send so all messages support your email goals and are part of one big, cohesive, brand strategy.

    With a little brainstorming and organization, putting together a marketing calendar can be relatively simple. A tangible plan helps to get the bigger picture, and allows your brand to fill in blanks that would have gone unnoticed before.

  3. Innovate on Interactivity with AMP for Email
  4. Innovative technology like AMP for Email, is about to change the way you engage your audience forever.
    With AMP for Email, your message is now a living, ever-changing experience that encourages the reader to stick around. To come back again and again. To participate.

    Readers can, for instance, do the following, all from inside an email:

    • Book an appointment,
    • RSVP to an event,
    • Sign up for a newsletter,
    • Review your product,
    • Answer a survey or quiz,
    • or view live package shipping updates.

     

    interactive email marketing poll in AMP

    Marketers should explore AMP for email. Play around with it. Get your hands dirty. Marketers who use dynamic and interactive elements will have a leg up in 2020 and beyond.

  5. Sharpen your Segments for a 2020 with razor-relevance
  6. Tink Taylor: Brands that continue to send generic messages that fail to inspire audiences will land themselves in the junk folder or worse. Be smarter with your marketing software and get email recipients to act.

    Here are three data-driven email tactics to refine your messages in 2020:
    1. Nudge and wake up dormant contacts
    2. Engage new customers quickly before they leave
    3. Treat loyal customers differently

    As marketers begin to segment more using customer data, they’ll experience a notable uplift in engagement and conversion.

  7. Milestones and an action plan will get you there
  8. Doug Dennison: Have a clear goal for your email marketing, set incremental milestones, then create an action plan to get you there. Start with the end goal in mind and work backwards all the way back to today. Make it something you can hit, both realistic and actual.

    An example would be; Before the end of Q4 2020, we want to grow our audience to 5,000 subscribers.

    If this is realistic and achievable, great. First job done. Next up, work backwards. It’s important your goal is clear and realistic. That sounds logical, and it is, yet many people fail to plan.

  9. Follow the rules and be Creative
  10. Ryan Vong of DigitalPi: Everyone wants to try new things and break apart from the pack when it comes to strategic email marketing. So, how do you stand out from the crowd in an effective and positive way?

    With a smart, thoughtful, and creative strategy you can do a LOT to make your mark without breaking the new rules of GDPR and CCPA. From ABM and targeted nurture to direct mail tie-in and the trusted lead gen.

    Creativity is the heart of successful email marketing despite regulation and yellow-tape.

  11. Tactics, strategy & business goals should all align
  12. Kath Pay: First make sure your tactics are aligned to support your strategy and business goals. 2020 is the year to really focus on testing. Email Marketing has a few features that make it one of the easiest and most cost-effective channels to test: having a unique identifier (the email address); being a powerful push (as opposed to a pull) channel.

More of the no-bullsh*t advice in the full article over at Kickbox.

The next big thing for performance email marketers in 2020

performance email marketing future experts 2020

Sharon Beilis at Ongage doesn’t want anyone to underperform at performance email marketing, and so 10 Experts share what is the next Big Thing in the performance email marketing. Performance marketing is paid for results type of marketing, including affiliate email and people that get a performance bonus (at the end of the year?).

1. High-volume email senders are forced to innovate on email deliverability monitoring

Brian Godiksen: KPIs like email opens and clicks have were always used to understand user engagement and get info on relevance, resonance, and impact of their emails. But the accuracy of traditional KPIs is becoming less reliable, with bot clicks and fake-click activity, and privacy concerns around incoming email. Making it hard to understand deliverability performance.

Also, alternate data for deliverability performance insights (like seed lists and panel data) are becoming less reliable due to recipient-specific filtering and privacy limitations.

This means that companies sending high volumes of email need to use more complex email monitoring to truly understand what is happening.

2. Get mobile right first and capture their palms

Tara Salmon: It’s increasingly harder for businesses to capture people. We aren’t talking about kidnapping, not even just ordinary napping – the exact opposite! Rather the challenge to capture their attention and keep them interested in a mobile-first world.

What do performance email marketers need to be spending more time on in 2020?

Right channel, right time, right mobile This might not look very “2020”, but many campaigns are still single-channel and don’t take advantage of reaching customers immediately in the palm of their hands. The combination of email and text messaging is incredibly effective, but not often used. By combining mobile-friendly emails and text messages, marketers can drive significant uplift in campaign performance.

Some customers will want to engage via text message vs email or vice versa or both or “other”. Capture channel preferences for each customer based on “likeliness to engage” per message type. With the ability to easily deliver truly mobile-first, personalized omni-channel campaigns, make sure you take advantage of both in 2020 for real measurable results.

3. Honeypots, breach points and a way to keep an eye on trouble

Assaf Ben Asher: 2020 will see an all-time high in breach attempts, everyone with an email list needs to prepare.

Companies need to acknowledge that everything is hackable and accessible, not only from hackers but also via neglect, ignored security, faulty integrations, and even simple human errors.
Most organizations don’t know how exposed they are.
If you store your email list somewhere, or with someone, that is a potential breach point.

Firewalls and all the shielded layers out there won’t protect an organization from insider threats, or hackers. There is a need for solutions in the form of honeypots that monitoring and tracking breaches, proprietors, and errors, fast.

Honeypots are seed emails that track misuse of your email list by unauthorized access. Without a doubt, monitoring your email list should be a primary focus in 2020.

4. 2020 is the year of tech-driven email optimization tools

Karen Talavera predicts that 2020 will be the year we see tech-driven email optimization tools accelerate if not become commonplace. We’re on the cusp of an explosion in response-optimization tech. Not only will it become “standard” in ESPs and MAs, but expected.

Performance email marketers will benefit in multiple ways:

  • Optimization tools eliminate guesswork
    Optimization tools aggregate actual (vs. predicted) data and uncover patterns, correlations and relationships that statistically hold up and are scalable.
  • Optimization in “real-time”, saves time
    Rather than running multiple test sends, aggregating results, and then separately deploying the “winner”, email optimization tools can deploy and measure the winning combination and then deploy the “winner” to the remainder of the list all within the same send.
  • Machine learning overcomes human bias. AI-driven systems “see” and learn in ways we cannot or may be blindsided to. Our personal biases or feelings about parts of campaigns are out and choices are wider. approaches we may not believe will work can actually be shown to be successful.

We can also see tech-driven optimization in audience targeting and segmentation. Propensity-to-purchase or likelihood-to-engage models already exist, they just aren’t always in the email equation yet, or sit outside the ESP.

Personalization and customized content (aka assembling dynamic creative on the fly, subscriber-by-subscriber, from a library of components) is another area to expect greater AI-driven optimization.

What are other trends to look for as a performance marketer? Think about things like BIMI and Dmarc, CCPA, AMP for Email, and stricter data privacy laws. You can read more about the performance marketing email in the full article.

Experts Prediction on the future of email marketing in 2020

big picture future email
“What is the Future of Email Marketing in 2020?” Great question. Unboundb2b asked 13 experts and their answer spells “dramatic change”. Changes in personalization, automation, interactivity, consistency, and more.

Here a selection of the predictions contributors:

1. Email and Messaging platforms unite

Ian Brodie sees the early stages of convergence between email and messaging platforms. Messenger bot platforms like Manychat are duplicating the functionality of email marketing automation tools and vice versa and expect similar on platforms like WhatsApp. These marketing tools are bound to converge.

2. We will need to relearn how to do mass mailing

With GDPR – individuals have the right NOT be targeted solely based on automated processing significantly affects him or her as well as the right to have those decisions explained– it will begin to make an impact and will tip the balance back in favor of marketing to personas rather than individuals.

Dela Quist believes that in 2020 (Email) Marketers have to (re)learn how to market traditionally, based on Reach and Frequency rather than using algorithms to target people based on their previous behavior.

3. AMP it up with AMP for Email

Sam Hurley mentions a new development in the email marketing world that adds a fancy layer of interactivity to subscriber communications. AMP for Email / Gmail.

6 email marketing trends shape software industry

Businesses can encourage engagement by offering audiences the ability to explore and penetrate content right inside their inbox. Less friction, more instant interaction a huge potential for in-email purchases from in 2020 onwards.B2C eCommerce brands will experiment first and gain best results from this strategy.

4. Rich snippets are on the horizon of email

Justina Bakutyei says email clients will start incorporating rich snippets in their inboxes. The premise that your email campaign – no matter how awesome it is – still depends on one line of tekst, doesn’t cut it. Even search ads include rich snippets. A next step for email.

5. Short and direct video content

The future of email marketing in 2020 is all about video content that speaks directly to the recipient according to Jon Bradshaw. Personalization with short video messages that talk to them directly based on the data you have about them.

6. Email will be more chat-like, shorter, more interactive

Email marketing will be more chat-like– shorter snippets, dynamically triggered by interaction. Messages have short videos and humor, just like communication between close friends, according to Dennis Yu.

The communication mega trend is shifting from books to videos and from desktop to mobile and chat replacing more of email communication like on-demand video (social, Netflix) is displacing broadcast TV.

Email can’t be seen as a separate channel. Email is one of the many channels that customers can engage on.. Shift your marketing from being channel-silo dependent to being topically focused– by area of expertise and customer journey. That means each of your people must learn all the channels, instead of having one tool specialist per channel.

That is a look at the fate of email marketing! More of the trendy predictions and their view on email marketing trends and patterns can be found in the article at unboundb2b.

The latest Gartner Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing and Advertising

Gartner hype cycle digital marketing
Technological changes can spark innovation in marketing. So to keep up, we need to look at the state of marketing technology. The analysts at Gartner review digital technology innovations in their Garner Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing and Advertising. These Hype Cycles are made to help companies that are considering to invest in (new) marketing technology in the upcoming year(s).

According to Gartner, event-triggered and real-time marketing are considered the technologies that will have the biggest impact on marketing activities in the next five years. Marketers must be able to use predictive analytics, automation and more to deliver personalized communication.
Marketers looking to invest in martech should focus on these six in particular, according to Gartner.

1. Customer Data Platforms

The interest in CDPs, or Customer Data platforms, remains exceptionally high. A centralized data repository, directly accessible and usable for marketers a powerful promise. However, many companies do confuse CDPs with their CRM and other technologies as they partially provide similar pieces (but aren’t the same).

In the last years a variety of CDP vendors has entered the market or embraced the term. In a seemingly saturated market, vendors attempt to differentiate based on additional features like rule-based attribution, final-mile campaign execution, customer journey building, testing and optimization, and web personalization. This differentiation play can be seen as a sign of overlap with other mature marketing technologies.
Gartner HypeCycle Digital Marketing Advertising Hype Cycle

2. AI for Marketing

In two years, AI for marketing has climbed and reached the Peak of Inflated Expectations. But don’t expect the hype around AI to fade for a while, AI enthusiasm is on timeline of 20 years before it will hit the plateau.

Marketers use the term AI to be describe a plethora of smart functions that hold the power to drive a real shift across the marketing technology ecosystem, transforming marketing. Examples include automated content tagging and real-time personalization.

A Gartner 2018 survey revealed that 11% of marketing technology executives said AI is the top technology that will have the most impact on their marketing efforts in the next five years.

3. Real-time Marketing

Technology is paving the way for a combo of on-demand and always-on marketing. (Making it always-on-demand?) Search and social let consumers share, compare and rate experiences while they are happening. Customer behavior and expectations are always real-time.

Brands are using a range of technology to realize real-time marketing like behavioral analytics and marketing automation. While event-triggered marketing and personalization serves up the right offer at the right time based on customer behavior like site visits or responding to other types of messaging.

Most real-time marketing use cases focus on demand generation, advertising, promotion, sales and service. According to Gartner many multichannel marketers struggle for relevance in core customer engagement moments yet lack a clear business case for real-time engagement. Marketers must revitalize their processes for data gathering, analysis and activation to “become real-time”.

4. Conversational marketing

Conversational marketing technology allows companies and customers to “ have human like conversations” at scale. Most common use of conversational marketing is the chatbot. Yet conversational marketing has a wider reach:

  • Smart speakers are becoming the voice of a brand,
  • Increased access for brands in Messaging Apps and with
  • Interactive live site support.

Conversational marketing can be used for B2B and B2C.

In addition, the Gartner HypeCycle analysts guide marketers to continue to monitor and be aware of other technologies such as Blockchain for advertising and multitouch attribution, which are high impact and moving forward. Follow the Hype in the article here.

The Evolving Future of Marketing Automation in the days to come

evolution future marketing automation
You have heard about Marketing automation (I hope!) and all of the benefits of what Marketing automation can bring. But the details might be a bit… undefined? What are the concrete benefits of Marketing automation today and tomorrow? An article at CustomerThink lists six MA trends you can expect to see today and in the near future:

1. It is predicted that predictive Lead Scoring will be more popular

You must have seen some swearing marketers by now… Swearing by predictive lead scoring in their CRM software platforms, that is!

Modern lead scoring boosts conversion rates by targeting the most qualified leads in the CRM database. Tools are more refined than ever and businesses are getting a hang of it by improving their scoring models as well. Less false leads: more businesses using modern-day predictive lead scoring techniques within their respective CRM platforms.

2. Chatbots are no longer optional

Marketers often still see chatbots as an optional part of marketing automation.
Now this will likely change very soon, as chat-botting brands dwarf non-chatty companies in engagement. And it is true, conversational marketing (chatbots) are a part of automation that is predicted to be one of the biggest Marketing Automation trends, together with Personalization and AI.

Chatbots assists companies in several ways like answering questions that leads ask outside regular business hours. Or chatbots nurturing cystomers. As some research illustrates that consumers like chatting as a way to communicate with brands.

3. More jobs will require Marketing Automation skills

A growing number of businesses rely on Marketing Automation. The consumer journey is not just happening in one single channel and campaigns are cross-channel as well. Marketing automation tools are more affordable these days.

Hence, there will be more jobs that ask for Marketing Automation skills. A smart career move for marketeers is to invest in their Marketing automation knowledge.

4. Generic content will become practically invisible

Marketing Automation and CRM helps organizations with the creation of relevant content. Hopefully keeping (potential) customers interested during each stage in the buying process.

Some companies will be excellent in the personalized content game, implying that brands that distribute generic content will fall short. Customers will be bored with generic blah blah and get fed-up. Search engines will prefer the specific over generic. So brands need to step up and provide the best answers to the questions their audience has or live in the shadow of content champions.

5. Marketers must remain updated with email automation to find optimal ROIs

According to the Marketing & Marketing Automation Excellence 2018 report, only 5% marketers considered themselves experts in email automation. Most brands admit they only use a limited number of features of their MA software suites.

Email marketing is a crucial functionality. One of the ways that businesses can boost the ROI of their email marketing efforts is using automatic / triggered campaigns. For example triggers like a form submit, the end of a tech support phone call, or abandoned shopping cart mails.

The Year in Email 2019

Email marketing year in review

Never a dull moment in email. Anthony Chiulli from 250ok takes a look back at 2019’s most important moments in email. As 2019 starting to become once upon a time, is a great time to review what happened. Let’s try if we can summarize the email year 2019 in 19 points.

Email Laws, Security, and Privacy

  1. The first GDPR fines were issued; for example Google for $57 million and hotel giant Marriott for $123 million this summer.
  2. The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), a bill similar to the GDPR, will be going into effect on January 1, 2020.
  3. The new email protocol, Authenticated Received Chain (ARC), was published in July to improve anti-spoofing detection and plug DMARC.

New Email Features and Trends

  1. Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI) is hot, the new standard allows brands to display their logo when sending authenticated email.
  2. Gmail officially announced AMP for Email support in March and it became generally available to all Gmail domains on July 2.
  3. Many ESPs have announced support for creating dynamic AMP-powered emails this year.
  4. In October the 250ok crew launched their Google Postmaster Tools (GPT) integration, to aggregate and pass all the Gmail deliverability signals into one overview.
  5. Yahoo released new features to improve accessibility of email and Microsoft’s Cortana is now able to screen-read email messages.

The Market of MarTech changes

Lots of acquisitions and mergers going on:

  1. Upland Software bought Adestra for $56 million
  2. Campaign Monitor purchased both LiveClicker and Sailthru in January,
  3. Twilio acquisition of SendGrid, valued at $3 billion in February.
  4. MailGun brought in MailJet in October, but not changing their names to MailFighterJet just yet.
  5. IBM sold Watson Marketing Campaign to private equity firm Centerbridge Partners, who started a new brand with it called Accoustic.
  6. Two major deliverability platforms were purchased, Return Path by Validity and eDataSource by SparkPost.

Mailbox Provider News

  1. Google released the newly redesigned Gmail mobile app.
  2. Google began enforcing its updated data policy in January, where email panel dependant vendor people were like “Oh shit, they actually did it”.
  3. Gmail added some TensorFlow, the open-source machine learning framework now blocks around 100 million extra spam messages daily.
  4. Google finally closed the box on their email app Inbox by Gmail on April 2.
  5. Verizon Media, owner of Yahoo and AOL mail added one-click unsubscribe in February

And one extra for 2020:

  1. If this past year was any sign of the future of email, 2020 will be one for the books!

You can read the full article here at 250ok.

Back to the Future of email marketing and marketing automation

What is actually interesting about the Future of Email Marketing and Marketing Automation is that some of the trends we could see glimpses of in earlier years are deepening and becoming reality.

Part is technology driven, part is creativity, part is changing consumer behavior and the last part is “Why don’t you just start doing the best-practices”.

As any philosopher, time traveler, or science fiction aficionado will say, nothing as hard to predict as the future. I think among the digital marketing world, we see ever changes, while email marketing has celebrated her 40th birthday, we are just getting started.

The best predictions come from having a great knowledge of the past. Here are the “future of email marketing” overviews of the last five years. 2019 edition, 2018 edition, 2017 edition, 2016 edition, 2015 edition.

PS: As more and more future of email marketing articles are published, I’ll be updating this post to include all the trends. If you have any additions, comments, questions or just like to say “HI”, post a comment below.