Come forth and step into our time machine to the future of email marketing and Marketing Automation with our 8th annual review of all email marketing trends and predictions.
When we want to future-proofing your digital marketing strategy, it is important to understand where we are and anticipate where email marketing is moving. Especially where these changes impact the day-to-day business.
What does 2019 and beyond hold in store for the inbox? What tactics and best practices you need to start using? And way email marketers deal with the ever evolving marketing landscape? What about those pesky customers, leads, subscribers and their behavior?
Note: The overview is “Trendslated” – Translating the trends and predictions spotted by experts inside and outside the email marketing automation industry. Capture the essence, summarize in different words and an observation and joke here and there all for your trends overview reading pleasure.
So let’s jump in and see what email industry today has to say about email marketing automation tomorrow…
– your host, Jordie van Rijn
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.”
The No Bullsh*t 2019 Email Marketing Predictions
Kickbox asked 6 email experts to weigh in on expected changes and new opportunities in email marketing – while cutting the male cow excrement. Here is their view on email marketing trends and how they can help your email marketing strategy.
- 2019 Will Be the Year of Customer Experience Email Marketing
Kath Pay: Marketers will begin to carry the same principles that make the lifecycle messages work i.e: helpfulness, personalised and customer-focused, into their regular Business As Usual / promotional emails.
This is called Customer Experience Email Marketing. Consumers expect brands to deliver upon the original promise they signed up to when they subscribed to your email program.
- Predictive Automation For the Win
Dennis Dayman: With massive amounts of data collected, increasing use of automation systems and automated emails are to expect. But instead of a strategy of email programs to look back to that data, it will be about what they will NEED and want to buy next.
If presented right, predictive email it is not creepy. No one gets creeped out when Amazon suggests something based on your purchases and profile.
- Brand Authenticity & Customer-Centric Marketing Will Shine
Andy Shore: With lower entry barriers for marketing automation and email marketing tools, more and more companies will use them.
When creating an automation, it’s important to look at it from your subscriber’s point of view. Make sure that the sequence serves their needs and the sales will follow.
A customer-centric approach is a part of your email marketing strategy, but it needs a to be paired with other emails that show brand authenticity and care about your relationship with your subscribers.
For instance ask if the email content appeals to them or what new products or services they might want. Put a face to your brand and give it some personality.
- AI: New Marketing Opportunities But Low Adoption
Anthony Chiulli: AI will continue to grow in all aspects of email. AI will go on to provide new ways for email marketers to increase the scale, creation, personalization, and delivery of emails in 2019. Expect email marketing AI push the boundaries of automation. But adoption will remain low because of relative complexity of implementing and managing it.
- Big Privacy thing, Automation Consolidation & Smarter Marketers
Ryan Phelan: Privacy will be the big thing. It all comes down to how marketers use and protect personal data that allows to deliver better messaging to customers.
In the marketing automation space, we will see more consolidation. One concern is the degradation of core marketing automation software offerings after acquisitions.
Marketers will keep getting smarter because the industry is flush with additional technologies to jumpstart the continuing need for relevance.
- Email Gets R.E.S.P.E.C.T, but does it?
Jen Capstraw: Yes: Email is getting newfound respect, which will continue into 2019 and beyond. The tech industry is getting more serious about the email game because CMOs are recognizing it’s essential to holistic strategies and the all-important LTV (lifetime value) metric.
This move toward LifeTimeValue as the ultimate KPI means the focus on short-term conversions is waning.
No: Email is still getting small slivers of marketing budgets, despite the incredible ROI of email. Some are even dropping low engaged subscribers from their list to save money. Like clipping coupons to buy a Maserati. Wanna drive a Maserati? Gotta make mo money—not save a few pennies.
In the words of Stewart Brand, “The fast-moving trends get most of the attention. The slow-moving trends have most of the power.” To read the all-full-no-bull post, head over to Kickbox here.
These 14 Email Marketing Automation Trends will Power 2019
With a real email marketing automation machine, what fuels the work-horse? Well, that is not really what marketing automation trends do of course, but still. Nicole Malczan over at Engagebay listed the following power trends.
The Personal Touch Reigns Supreme
Automation can figure out the “right time” for our messages. No need to cherry-pick every hot lead, or categorize them by hand. Software can do that job for us.
But we human beings are. Bleep. Not machines, yes? While marketing and email automation runs the program, don’t forget the human touch in the process.
CRO Becomes an Important Metric to Follow for your 2020 agenda
Conversion is cool. Optimized conversion is cooler. A Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) strategy should on every marketer’s agenda. Include email and marketing automation in your 2020 CRO plan. So what makes the future-ism in this? Optimising interactivity, more advanced CRO tools. Virtual reality and augmented reality experiences could be conversion optimised as well. Cool.
Artificial Intelligence Continues to Push the Boundaries
So we need to push back? A trend for automation in email marketing is artificial intelligence. AI is about a lot of things. It really took off in 2017 and hasn’t lost much steam since. AI can be used for boosting collaborations, customer personalization, gaining insights and voice commands. Let say that 2019 will be the year that AI augments automation and becomes a marketer’s best friend. If you look at the AI100 chart below, you’ll see it’s already happening.
Automated Email List Pruning and categorization
Another trend regarding automation in email marketing is automated email list pruning. Think about it as “Set it to forget them. “ 😀 The email marketing software can just as granularly categorize contacts or move them into more general buckets depending on campaign- scope. High qualified and segmented leads could even mean higher conversions and sales.
The Rise of Visual Automation Workflow Builders
Visual automation workflow builders are ideal to keep an overview of your email flows and automations. More email service providers are showing off with those visual automation builders, thus more marketers have access. Just watch how these builders simplify building automated flows. They are drag-and-drop and that saves you time. Can you see the benefits?
Chatbots Are “Okay, Google.”
More and more people invite voice tech such as Google Home and Amazon Alexa into their homes. Will that make people more chatty? 15 percent of consumers relied on a company’s chatbot in 2017. If your website chatbots can hit even some of the potential use cases, then they’re worth having. Now, what do chatbots have to do with email marketing automation? When used to encourage leads to subscribe to your email list. For instance.
Finding more (automated) ways to keep ‘em coming back
New leads, fresh leads, acquisition. Great. But what about the customers that try to run off? Focus on bringing customers back before / after they churn or leave the sales process automation can take some of those tasks.
* Automated Re-engagement campaigns
* Automated cart abandonment email campaigns
* Replenishment emails (to refill their stock)
So we had those for a while, simple versions at least. The step to the future is the intelligence (artificial you ask?) that helps identifying these churn instances, resolve identities and time and optimise them better.
More marketing automation trends can be seen to power 2019.
Think about the unstoppable need for Killer Content, Recommender Blocks that gain Popularity, Transactional Emails – don’t stop sending those and some more best practices for email marketing testing.
Trends to walk the email marketing catwalk in 2019
What is more fashionable than an email marketing catwalk? That is what Amy Attle thought at Communicator. Here are her 5 Haute couture email marketing trends and best practice tips that no one is ashamed to wear.
- Create hyper-segmented email automation campaigns
Normal segmentation won’t cut it any more. Marketers need to hyper-segment your emails. How? One way is through self-selected email automation, where you give subscribers the option to choose the content they receive.
- Surprise personalisation
We want to improve personalisation. So time your email automation to personal events like birthdays. But to really surprise a subscriber, you have to do something more unexpected. Use the first name into the middle of a paragraph for instance. This will make your subscribers feel as though you are speaking to them directly.
- Be Sarah from marketing, not Siri from Apple
Just like you can recognise a specific artist on the radio, your subscribers should be able to recognise your emails even if your branding mysteriously disappeared. Your emails need to be distinctive and resonate with your subscribers. People engage more with other people, so sound like one. Let your personality shine through, for instance by “engaging with your inner teenager and push some slang, Yo.” If that is your audience.
- Gold star for creativity and interactivity
How shall we stand out in the inbox in 2019? Yes you, person in the back? “Be more creative”. Gold star for you. Make sure your campaign is different than expected, and a captivated audience shall befall you. Just watch those click-through rates climb a mountain.
- Don’t use Real Dumbness but Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence is hot. AI can be quite an investment for businesses, but it can pay off, for example use:
- AI to unify information from diverse datasets. The AI tells you what questions you should’ve asked, and provides additional insights to the questions you did ask.
- AI to customise content for individual users, to be relevantissimo to them. A better email marketing experience is what is promised.
- AI to crank up email engagement of audiences. AI emails are more personalised. Find preference trends and predict what customers will want in the future.
Get ahead of the email marketing trends to ensure you see the results you want for your business.
Writing the future: Email Marketing Trends in 2019
With everything digital constantly changing including the humans, the future is more challenging to predict than ever. But we crave innovation, so Adam Ward takes a shot over at Mailingmanager. And “retro” and nostalgia have their place, don’t you love it?
Blurring the personal lines
Personalisation has improved over the past years. Segmentation and targeting are as much a part of this process as custom fields have ever been. 2019 will almost certainly see better use of targeting and segmentation and personalisation together to create that personal experience.
The Visual Prizefight in the inbox
Marketers and thought leaders struggle to agree if the inbox will be more visual or more text-only heavy. The clever technique is to use both types together. Your subscriber opens up a glittery and engaging email. Three days later, they receive a text-only email following up. This might become standard practice.
The nurturing email marketing trend
Each email glows a little brighter now it is in a smaller mailing list. The death of the claustrophobic hard e-sell. Send little “jabs“, non-intrusive emails that keep a business top-of-mind. Building relationships makes for better customer retention.
2019 – year of the story
There has been a lot more intelligent, daring, content lately. More effort is going into that all important brand voice. Humans invented campfires, and
storytelling is back dear friends, and to stay. Expect a rise in the amount of stories you read in your email 2019.
Thank god it’s AI
AI AI is getting smarter, but mostly on the back end of the email marketing campaigns. Software won’t be writing our email marketing campaigns yet. We will be able thank AI for smarter tools, highly responsive templates, and better reporting and use of statistics.
Email marketing trends in 2019 promise to be very interesting, because 2018 was very interesting. The trends are beginning to be defined by humans again, not technology. Creativity and intelligence are making a comeback. Email marketing is putting the fun back in the marketing industry.
The Top 5 Email Trends Shaping the Future of Email Marketing
What are the top five email trends that are shaping email marketing as we speak according to Etan Zeng, hustler-man?
- Email becomes paid media
Email remains free of media cost – but according to Ethan this won’t be the case forever.
ISPs such as Gmail, Outlook and Yahoo! Mail would establish a paid model for advertisers in the long term. Monetisation of the inbox.
I seriously doubt if there will be a (priority) inbox-tax. But advertising certainly. Gmail is already showing ads formatted like email. In the meanwhile use email marketing today before it becomes a marketing expense.
- Imagine the visual Inbox
We’re all visual animals. Visual communication helps us to learn faster and more effectively, Social is becoming more visual. Naturally the traditional email inbox is also growing increasingly visual.
The personal inbox is becoming increasingly personalised, interactive and programmable.
We can then expect this trend to continue growing where inboxes be more visual. Video will become far more prevalent within emails.
- Completely Personalised email combined with real-time Automation
Currently, automation is often focused on a straight funnel approach. Previous action(s) such as purchasing tripwire content or entering a competition triggers the next. There is some personalisation but it’s all very linear.
With the advent of AI and personalised video, we could see real-time experiences take over the nurture flow in a seamless and automated experience. Emails could be sent in normal or video format, dynamically rendered based on location and weather. Discounts and offers would be shown on these completely personalised variables, which in turn increases conversion.
- Your Email Inbox gets an intelligent layer for Voice Platforms
The rise of voice with Google Home, Amazon Alexa and Apple HomePod makes it to the inbox. Emails won’t just be read on the voice platforms of the future. Our emails will have an intelligent layer over them meaning you’ll be able to respond, delete and dynamically sort your emails through voice.
This also sits hand in hand with paid email marketing as a prediction, which could see a centralised demand-side platform for email placements. And real-time-bidding could take place – similar to the Google Display Network for example.
- GDPR and Data Protection
The recent impact of GDPR has been far-reaching. With users that are reluctant to share all their personal details, Customers will grow control over their personal data and email addresses. But if done correctly, the enforcement of the new regulations will help them trust marketing from brands again and build healthy relationships.
Expect stricter data regulation in regions beyond the EU. This will shape the way businesses capture emails leads. Marketers need consent for their data activities and transparency will be a bigger part of the lead capture landscape moving forward.
Deliverability changes that will lead to 2019 excitement
2018 was a turning point in the email world. Was it? Well.. some things did happen. The guys and gals at Ongage wondered: ”What was the most significant change in email marketing that should make mailers excited about 2019?” Hmmm interesting question.
Domain reputation will be a bigger factor for deliverability
Nick Shafer from Mailgun notes that Email reputation systems at ISPs have been getting better, and they aren’t looking at just IPs anymore. Domain reputation will be a bigger factor to decide who’s making it to the inbox. That should be something marketers look forward to.
Domain reputation can help you stand out from the pack by sending messages that are fully authenticated with DKIM, SPF, and DMARC. Especially coming off the migration of the mail systems for Microsoft’s freemail services and AOL and Verizon that caused a lot of throttling issues and sending delays.
Getting to the inbox more… if
Josh Nason, Senior Email Deliverability Consultant from Oracle Dyn adds: Emailers can be excited about getting to the inbox more… if they remove unengaged users and send overall better content. Now most companies have been scared into reviewing their database practices. GDPR was big enough to have the question “Are you GDPR compliant?” asked of every email provider at some point in 2018. The key to a better program isn’t to send more, it’s to send more strategically.
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.
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.
Email Marketing Trends for 2019 – boost your email strategy
Bea Redondo Tejedor from Mailjet, in her article likes to focus on how you’re going to boost your email strategy in 2019.
You might already be stepping on the email marketing gas pedal, some things will be recognizable. But fighting for the user’s attention gets harder in 2019. So the trends to effective marketing are:
- Targeting contacts with relevant messages, think segmentation, advanced personalization and automating those messages – so they not be anything but reeeeleeevant.
- Attractive interactive designs, so start coding those responsive interactive, mobile first emails.
- Effective brand storytelling that humanizes the company for a winning email marketing strategy. Creating an emotional connection, share your values and tell your story.
- The data protection laws will be key in internal ways companies operate. ePrivacy will add to email as a strategic marketing channel. Not kidding research tells us it is true.
- The trend towards distributed teams, and bigger marketing departments and external agencies, means companies need to find tools for team email collaboration.
Full story? Here at Mailjet.
6 Digital Marketing Trends for 2019 (that will influence your email and B2B marketing)
2018 has been the year where Marketing automation moved from utopia to reality. Marketers have thoughts on the possibilities of data and the endlessness of it all. Meanwhile the experts at Apsis office ponder about all the digital 2019 marketing trends. Embrace yourself and brace for their 2019 predictions.
- Put your omni-channel quest on hold for qualitative progression
Niklas Jakobsson says: Eager B2B marketers will start looking for new and exciting opportunities to climb the evolutionary ladder of data-driven marketing. When marketing automation hits mainstream, Omni-channel marketing is the natural next quest. But wait, first do some qualitative progression and get the foundation of marketing automation and truly earn your ticket for a seat on the hype-train.
- Flow Down; B2B is Back to Basics
Marketing automation has swooned the digital marketing world. Don’t dive head first into advanced automation flows. “Flow down” and walk before you leap. B2B might mean Back the basics. Nail your welcome flows, and ensure that you start right before progressing to next step nurturing.
- Don’t Forget Your Salesforce and internalize the Marketing automation Mantra
Internal communications has a substantial impact on the external results. Apparently the marketing and sales people at Apsis dreams about qualitative leads and streamlined marketing and sales processes at night. That sounds a bit overly involved guys. Still, a good idea to internalise the marketing automation mantra and deliver the right upcoming lead generating/ nurturing campaigns information, to the right salesperson, at the right time.
- 2019 the Year of Transparency and Trust
GDPR arrived and we need to work hard for the data. But not the one-way-flow-of-input-for businesses-to-increase-revenue-in-the-name-of-marketing-and-selling kind. Triple E (E-commerce Expert Extraordinaire) Sofie Bjerkefeldt says: Rather, trust is earned, so focus on building authentic and strong customer relationships. It will earn you the PII (Personal Identifiable Information) you need to personalise.
- Maximize your data to make one size fit
Without a cookie-cutter formula, and a one-size-fits-all mode of successful communications. What can we do? View the uniqueness of the customer as an opportunity – not a burden. It brings a way to sharpen segmentation and relevance. Marketers need to identitfy consumers regardless of the device or channel. That require smart technology to put all that data together, such as a customer data platform (CDP).
- Privacy Shield Might Dampen Your Data Processing
The Legal Counsel with a large “L”, Sahar Torabi, Warns us. The EU-U.S. Privacy Shield might fall short of the GDPR requirement of “adequate level of protection”. That has the potential of suspending data transfers to and from the U.S. Try to foresee the unforeseeable and be proactive with your data privacy strategies.
You can read the full article here.
3 Mega-Trends Shaping the Future of Email Marketing industry
The three mega-trends Jason Rodgriguez from Litmus wanted to share, as they kept coming up in presentations at their events. They believe these trends will be instrumental in shaping the future of work in the email industry.
- Mega Email Marketing Trend 1: Collaboration
Email design systems is a way open the door for cross team collaboration. Email marketers are working with larger teams and with more departments. Hardest is getting alignment and buy-in. Some practical tips is to kick off projects with a clear agenda, set expectations, and creating more human connections with teammate in the coming year.
The email marketing collaboration trend creates a need for better communication between colleagues, departments, tools, and organizations. It can be a lot to manage. An email playbook is handy, a guide to what’s possible in your email marketing program.
- Mega Email Marketing Trend 2: Design systems and modularity
A design system creates a complete system of code, documentation, guidelines, and resources for creating nearly any type of email a sender requires. This improves email consistency, and lets teams scale their email production.
Modular design takes each element of your email campaign and makes them into modules (components) to re-use and quickly build a new email. Modular design can massively increase efficiency.
- Mega Email Marketing Trend 3: Email and omni-channel marketing
One of the most important trends we saw this year: Email marketing’s role in broader marketing strategies. All marketers should recognise the role of email in successful omni-channel marketing programs. One tip is to repurpose content from other channels in email, with the challenge to align teams across those channels, and keep it all user-focused.
The Year in Email 2018
While most thought leaders are busy making predictions (ahum), Anthony Chiulli of 250OK likes to learn from the past to positively impact the future. Good point. Let’s try if we can summarize the email year 2018 in 18 sentences?
Email Legislation, Security, and Privacy
- The GDPR, European privacy regulation dramatically changing how personal data is collected, stored, and used, finally became enforceable on May 25th, 2018.
- June brought us the CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act ) which will take effect in January 2020.
- All federal entities using .gov domains to have a DMARC p=reject policy in place came due on October 16.
- In July Wall Street journal published a piece on the scraping email content and inbox behavior of millions of Gmail, Microsoft, and Yahoo users, and unveiling the significant privacy violations.
- In October Google API user data policy changes were announced to prevent scraping and help protect its users – email panel dependant vendor people were like “Oh shit”.
Industry Acquisitions, Consolidations, and Changes
- The marketing technology industry saw a steady flow of mergers and acquisitions this past year, with more than $40 billion dollars exchanging hands.
- Purchase including Adobe’s acquisition of Marketo , Cheetah Digital acquiring Stellar Loyalty, Salesforce adding Rebel to their Marketing Cloud business, SendGrid acquired by Twilio.
- In june Emma and Delivra joined the Campaign Monitor umbrella, and in september Trendline Interactive acquired Inbox Pros.
Mailbox Provider News
- Mailbox provider changes and announcements kept marketers and deliverability professionals on their toes all year.
- The most notable mailbox providers undergoing significant changes in 2018 were OATH (Yahoo, AOL, and Verizon mail) and Gmail.
- In April, “the new Gmail” redesign introduced users to features created to increase productivity and security.
- Inbox by Gmail “waved” (remember Google Wave anyone?) goobye in September
- Late November Gmail introduced email annotations for the promotions tab, making it easy for brands to highlight key information like deals, expiration dates, and promo codes with images to their promotional emails.
- Microsoft announced a new Outlook.com experience to help users more easily identify and interact with brands’ emails in their inbox.
Email’s Growth and Vitality
- Email adoption continued to climb in 2018, with the number of email users worldwide eclipsing 3.8 billion, up more than 100 million users year-over-year.
- Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI) is getting here, a visual indicator in email boasting both marketing and security benefits.
- Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP for Email) aims to create more engaging and interactive experiences with email.
And one extra for 2019:
- If this past year was any sign of the potential future of email, I am ambitious about the opportunities for email in 2019!
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. 2018 edition, 2017 edition, 2016 edition, 2015 edition, 2014 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.