You’ve seen them… “Top email trends for 2016”, “Where is email headed in the year to come?” “2016 email marketing predictions”.
In an effort to makes sense of it all I compiled hundreds of prophecies, from nearly as many pundits, and broke down their predictions into 12 categories.
As you see in the chart below I ranked each category by how often the prediction occurred. I then pulled together the most common threads within each category and mashed up the predictions into a consensus of my own.
Most agree that consumers are becoming smarter than ever and marketers will rise to the occasion to satisfy their needs. Specifically, 2016 will finally be the era of the hyper-targeted personalized messaging that will be relevant around platform, location, and product. Emails and websites alike will be customized with dynamic content derived from data-driven decision making based on the individual as brand and direct marketing converge to create a unique experience for each consumer. In other words, communicate with your customer with a high degree of relevancy and contextual material, minus the creepiness, or risk being ex-communicated forever.
For the complex B2B customer sell, where long sales cycles, high dollar amounts/sale and many people involved in the buyer side of the equation, account-based marketing will take center stage.
Emails and ESPs
According to all of our pundits, not only is email alive it’s in a renaissance. What’s more, emails will no longer need to be coded and are infinitely configurable and controllable with templated drag and drop technology that anybody can use. Emails will be succinct with just the right amount of personalization and dynamic content tailored to the viewer.
You will be able to purchase product direct from your interactive emails and be delighted with the improved quality of the messaging. All email styles will render properly in Gmail and Outlook will shrink in market share.
As for Email Service Providers (ESPs) there will be further consolidation in the ESP market and we can expect the pace of M&A activity to quicken with at least one major ESP being acquired and lots of smaller companies being gobbled up.
From the moment your customer first signs up for communications, the well thought out welcome series will begin to fire and with every visit to your website, mobile app or social page, you will send the well targeted, relevant message through the appropriate channel all the while enriching your dynamic segments with the new data.
When your customer is out shopping, that ibeacon will trigger, sending unique coupon codes tailored for perfect tracking and customer conversion. Social and automation will combine in new ways and as the shopper hops in their connected car, your systems triggers posts to Facebook about their great bargains and turns up the heat at home through IoT, it all becomes a seamless customer experience.
Content is still king in 2016. Interactive, embedded and animated content are set to drive increased engagement for the year. The most mentioned form for content for this year is video. A picture is worth a thousand words so video has that in spades. The challenge will be to use the medium for engagement that is contextual to your brand and not just to show another cat video, unless of course you’re selling cat food. The increased use of live video also gets a mention.
According to some pundits, Social media is set to take over or at least gain more recognition. Buy buttons will become more prevalent. The focus of the day will be advocate marketing. This will occur in both employee advocacy for your company and brand advocacy through loyal consumers and social influencers.
Mobile usage will continue to rise and the mobile experience will become more consistent across email, web and social. This will be facilitated by Google app indexing, responsive and adaptive design. Searchable deep links will take you right where you want to be in the app. Within apps themselves you will see more cross-app navigation options.
And don’t forget to design your campaigns to include the Apple and Fitbit watches. It looks like they are here to stay and will continue to evolve to other untethered devices.
2016 is proclaimed to be the year of artificial intelligence and the rise of the machines. At the very least harnessing of unstructured data will continue to drive marketing decisions and asset allocation across various channels. We will also gain greater control of omni-channel touchpoints that will drive the hyper targeting a messages mentioned in segmentation.
Lightbox sign-up forms will dominate as the method for gaining new subscribers, but be sure to tinker with timing and subscriber psychology in your call to action to get the most qualified contacts and optimized conversion rate. In 2016 marketers will ask for only the minimum amount of information (email) to keep the friction down.
Ad blocking as announced by Apple will drive efforts to refine target segments, message relevance and contextual format. Consumers want to be spoken to in a way that matters. So if you’re going to serve up ads make them as native and un-intrusive as possible.
The introduction of Google audiences and Facebook custom/lookalike audiences will deliver ads to recipients based more on behavior than demographics. ESPs are already creating tighter integrations around dynamic customer lists and automatic feeds to custom/lookalike ad platforms.
Go responsive, secure and load quick or go home. Lack of these features is certain death as more and more consumers search mobile so being mobile relevant is an absolute necessity in this age of retreating attention spans. If you do show in search but can’t load with speed you’ll be dropped as quick as if you were never on the radar.
Data and fraud protection reforms are on the way for 2016. The email industry will see a noticeable shift in privacy and security reforms from both the sender and recipient sides. Websites will continue to move to SSL protection as well.
New Year predictions are a lot like New Year resolutions. Both are made with great optimism and a bold look to the future. Only time will tell what holds true. We’re looking forward to all the possibilities for improvement this year and hope all the predictions crystallize.
Art by Jay Jacobs // Jay Jacobs Art
Words by Gerald Marshall // Email Industries