For the second year, we have collected and curated email marketing predictions. So what’s changed in 2017? Data analysis tops the chart and knocks automation out of the top 4.
The top 4 categories for 2017 are data analysis, emails and ESPs, content and segmentation. This year data analysis includes artificial intelligence and bots with nearly half (15 of 33) of the category predictions dominated by AI and bots. The other big winners this year are email design and improved ESP platforms followed by video in content and AI-assisted segmentation/personalization.
The chart seems to indicate a significant drop in segmentation, automation and social, but the reality is that AI and bots are predicted to redistribute the workload in 2017.
We have summarized the predictions by category here.
Oh data, data, data, there’s so much gold in all this information that’s been piling up and waiting to be used by marketers. Beyond the astute data scientist, much of this data has remained “piled up”. Fear not, for now technology will be doing most of the heavy lift of analyzing data and putting it to work for marketers.
AI will do the analyzing for us and quickly ferret out new marketing opportunities. The agency and brand will have more time to dedicate to the creative process to address these opportunities rather than digging into the numbers.
Predictive analytics performed by AI, our new friend or enemy (depending on who you talk to) will satiate the consumer and reduce churn. Today’s overly complex automation flows could be laid out by AI without the agency or brand having to consider possible overlap. It can all be handled in the background without the need for marketer intervention. We will see many more email & marketing automation companies adding AI to their platforms in 2017.
Bots will be the future of email marketing. Chatbots will bring customer service into the realm of AI and reduce friction in the in-app experience.
Emails and ESPs
Beyond AI, the the single biggest expectation for 2017 lies around improvement in email design. The email production process will be fixed with new email creation tools that lower email development costs. Email service providers (ESPs) will vastly improve their capabilities.
Email will be full of interactivity and design will be modular. They will also be full of images, videos, quizzes, surveys and created by drag and drop. The final product will be delivered personalized and uniquely configured for each recipient. All hail Email!
Ecomm and direct buying from the email will be the focus for 2017.
Video will continue to dominate as the preferred method of content consumed. Video creation is easier than ever to create and provide in a more personalized form across all the social platforms.
Messaging will be much more contextual in nature and allow for hyper-personalization. Predictive analytics will keep content relevant and help large organizations do a much better job of delivering content that converts the best at the same time as satisfying the correct information need of each consumer. No more landing pages where one size fits all.
The seamless of content across channels will continue to be the aspirational goal of marketers.
For written content the struggle will be to be believed. Fact vs fake has taken center stage and will create issues for many marketers. Brands will need to take an active stance in monitoring the media where their ads are placed as fake news continues to pose a threat to brand credibility.
Hyper-personalization is the goal for 2017. One to one marketing will become the new norm. No longer will just an email address be enough for marketing. Algorithms applied to behavior of subscribers will predict what they will do next.
Truly considering mobile, will drive real-time data and location utilization. GPS based SEO will overtake keywords as mobile dominates search. Desktop will continue to fade in favor of mobile ads and web sites will transform from a novelty in B2C to a main staple for all digital advertising.
Mobile payments will come to inboxes. First-Person marketers will focus on wearable devices and marketers will catch up to mobile-first consumers.
There will be a revolution in marketing automation. Intelligent automation will begin to rise over simple personalization and drive a clearer, more personal message with full lifecycle marketing consideration with less crossover of automation streams.
SMS takes a bigger share of the marketing arsenal, but be careful and use sparingly. Yes, text have a very high engagement rate, but if consumers get overwhelmed by brands in this channel, it will become another channel of noise to be ignored.
Independent publisher will have a tough time in the era of walled garden marketing. Social will work to refine ads to the point that it will be difficult to tell ads from viral posts. And in this environment, media agencies will be held accountable for ROI like never before.
The Rise of Madtech (confluence of Marketing, Advertising and Technology) – Expect to see the continued integration of ad tech within the email and marketing automation platforms this year. AI could take the convergence deeper by making programmatic ad buying a breeze.
With the metric issues recently divulged for Facebook ads and the revelation of the Methbot ad fraud network, brands will be extra cautious in how they spend their ad dollars in 2017.
Website branding will pose a major design challenge to industry in the fight between user experience and being mobile and desktop friendly. The Cloud will be used more extensively to support large bursts of email traffic
Customers will shape the conversation. Email + Socials = A match made in heaven. Social alone may not get the job done, but if you’re doing it right and capturing sign ups to your email list through Social. Social provides the research and peer approval while email will nurture your customers and ultimately convert for the win.
As global cyber security attacks continue to rise, digital marketers will struggle with keeping consumer data safe and private as e-commerce and marketing automation opens new doors for crafty cyber thugs. Global privacy comes to the forefront as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation comes nearer to its full effect date of May 2018.
Curiously, there was only one prediction about list growth and it speaks to the return to the double opt-in and the idea of quality over quantity. I’m all for quality and considering the rise in list bombing this year, I would take it one step further and include Captcha.
All predictions should be taken with a grain of salt as there is always a certain amount of self-interest and company focus involved and of course they are just that, predictions! Nonetheless, 2017 looks to be an exciting year for email and marketing automation.
About the Author:Gerald Marshall is Head of Operation at Email Industries.