At the back end of last year, Campaign Monitor produced a set of predictions about email marketing trends in 2016. They tapped into the minds of ten industry expects to compile their top predictions for the year ahead.
Enchant CEO & Founder Philip Storey was one of the experts asked to gaze into the future and put forward a key trend that should become evident across the email marketing industry in 2016. Philip’s prediction was around personalisation and the ramping up of this crucial part of customer interaction.
Email still leading the way
Some of the chosen experts picked specific areas of focus and engagement strategies, such as interactive content and kinetic emails, whilst Chad White of Litmus boldly stated that this year could see the “second coming of age” for email marketing – defying the harbingers of doom who have previously declared that email marketing would become marginalised in the wake of the rise of social media and smartphones.
Email marketing remains the top digital marketing channel for business and with the increased focus on automation in brand campaigns, it is a data-rich marketing tool for companies to get almost limitless engagement opportunities to convert goals from targeted interaction with customers. Reading emails is the premier activity for smartphone users and with the increasingly vibrant innovation and design being created by brands for their email marketing content, customers are seeing emails as more than just readable entities, but visual and interactive experiences.
This so-called “second coming” of email marketing is in part down to the increased ability for businesses and brands to build all-encompassing digital marketing suites. Integration is made possible by ESPs and CRM tools that allow brands to reach, target, engage and convert customers with email marketing at the heart of their campaign strategies. Email marketing allows companies to engage with consumers at various touchpoints along their customer lifecycle and can feed into other digital channels.
Customer experience becoming paramount
Good user experience is crucial when it comes to email marketing and Alex Williams of Trendline Interactive predicted that 2016 would be the year that Gmail sort out the issue of their lack of support of CSS for their webmail clients. With the visual experience of email content becoming progressively important, marketers want their emails to reach their customers in the form and quality they intended. It is hoped Gmail can add style support to webmail to bridge the gap and make sure customers can the view the best possible email content, whatever device or platform they are using.
Daniel Codella of ZURB echoed Philip Storey’s thoughts on increased personalisation, driven by more automation. Daniel predicted we’ll see an “ever expanding list of triggers”, which will allow marketers to hyper-target their customers based on their behaviours. Automation must be seen not as a way to increase frequency of interactions but as a tool to give customers relevant content at the right times. Trigger-based campaigns are a key element of automated targeting.
Automation is the future
The email marketing industry is evolving in line with the growing trend for automation and Elliot Ross of Action Rocket said that “email templates will finally offer limitless control” to marketers wanting to create a range of engaging targeted content without building each piece from scratch. Automation is the future and brands need modular templates, which allow them to segment and create targeted content quickly and efficiently.
Philip said of automation in 2016: “Marketers will deliver insanely personalised experiences with automation.”
Consumers no long want generic interaction and offers. They are used to personalisation on social media, so they expect the same of their emails from brands. Marketers are reacting to this expectation and are doing so in more innovative and engaging ways.
Kraig Swensrud from Campaign Monitor agreed that email content design needs to be easier for marketers to create engaging email marketing campaigns. Drag-and-drop technology allows marketers of all levels of experience and expertise to create good content efficiently and easily. This is why Kraig thinks that “the era of coding HTML emails is over”.
Elevating brand experience through enhanced content
The improvement of email template technology matches the growing ambition of brands’ email marketing content, and we are seeing more animation and kinetic emails featuring eye-catching moving images and interactive content. This boosts the potential for better conversion rates and more behavioural data for marketers to use.
Justin Khoo of FreshInbox said of this trend: “Animation will elevate brand experiences.”
The sky is the limit for creativity now that animation and interactive email content is more accessible for marketers and this should drive interaction and engagement levels with customers, as their user experience is being enhanced.
The future is bright for targeted email marketing
It is an exciting time for digital marketers, as increased automation capabilities allow a greater scope of email marketing opportunities for brands, whilst the potential for more visually-rich email content makes marketers more ambitious. The result should be that customers will receive more optimized and relevant content, which should increase ROI.
Jordie van Rijn of Email Vendor Selection claims that “marketers will triumph when automation and email unite”. This phrase is a good way to conclude the largely positive predictions from email marketing experts about the vision of the immediate future of an industry holding its own in an ever-changing digital landscape.
Read Campaign Monitor’s 10 epic email marketing predictions for email marketing here.