For years now, many have claimed that email marketing is dead. The most common criticisms I’ve encountered call email an overly saturated and outdated channel, predict that new tools will completely replace email, and assume this medium will soon see a fallout because younger generations are no longer using it.
Fortunately for digital marketers, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Despite these doomsday articles and blog posts, email still proves to be the most effective marketing channel and one of the best tools for attracting, nurturing, and retaining customers.
Yes, many companies are replacing email with instant messaging tools like Slack or Skype for their internal communications. And yes, younger generations are now connecting with companies via social or text. However, email continues to be one of the top ways to connect with your audience, from both a B2B and B2C perspective.
Over 126 trillion emails are expected to be sent daily by 2022. Email is much more likely to outlive other marketing channels, including social media platforms (yes, like Facebook and Twitter) and traditional forms of advertising. In fact, a recent study by Litmus found that industry experts have the most faith in email, believing it has the highest potential among any other channel to still exist 10 years from now.
So, now that we know email is here to stay, let’s explore some of the biggest potential advances coming to email in the future and how they will keep email at the top of the list of the most effective and profitable marketing channels.
AI will play an even bigger role
Ever find yourself looking online at a product you didn’t know existed, but now realize you want (or even need)? That’s AI. It analyzes your shopping and browsing history on sites like Amazon to recommend additional or similar products you might like.
Over the last couple years, we’ve seen a big uptick in artificial intelligence tools aimed at improving and even automating various elements of email marketing. Machine learning is expected to really hits its stride in the next several years. We’ve already seen the beginning of this in the form of predictive analytics and other data practices that are taking advantage of machine learning to uncover patterns and buyer intent signals from complex data sets.
AI is known for collecting, analyzing, and taking targeted action on huge amounts of data, so marketers should expect similar results for their email marketing efforts. Split-second, data-based insights will enable laser-focused targeting, optimized personalization of content based on digital behavior, and a consistent experience across all channels — all leading to a huge increase in the ROI and effectiveness of email marketing.
The multiplying effect of email on other marketing channels
In this day and age, we all know that executing campaigns centered around the customer experience is critical. When used strategically, email can be the main driver in delivering that cohesive customer experience. However, email must be integrated with your other channels in order to bolster their effectiveness and provide a consistent, continuous customer experience.
For example, say a potential buyer receives an email with a particular offer or messaging. They may ignore the email initially, but take notice after seeing the same offer on your website or social media channels. This is your classic attribution scenario where the second or third touch is what drives the conversion. This is also simply another reminder of how email can support the success of other channels.
This integrated, cross-channel experience will exist on a greater scale and with much more complexity in the future. We’ve seen the use of email addresses for retargeting on social media and creating unique web experiences, but behavioral data from email interactions has the power to increase personalization even more. How an individual engages with an email can influence precisely how other channels approach that same individual — positioning touches from other channels outside of email to be more effective and successful.
Making conversions even more seamless
Most emails you send to the people in your database include some kind of CTA. What’s the point of a marketing email if you’re not trying to get someone to sign up for a webinar, download a digital piece of content, or promote a product or service?
Traditionally, email has been a one-way delivery system that has required anyone interested in your offer to click a link, which then opens up a landing page in a web browser. Not a big deal, but there’s still a small amount of friction here. What if an email recipient could submit a form or make a purchase from right within the email?
As ESPs continue to evolve, so will the ability to interact with our subscribers — without the need for them to leave their inbox. Emails will no longer consist of solely an image and text, but other functionalities that make opening up an email fun and unpredictable. Opening an email may soon be like opening an app, where recipients can interact with a brand or company in real time, take instant advantage of offers, and more.
Here to stay
Email is very much alive and has a prosperous future. The way email marketing looks today may evolve, but this marketing channel will continue to be around for a long time. And with the amount of technological advances on the horizon, email will continue to be the most effective and highest-yielding channel we have.
Need some help building a best-in-class email marketing program that takes full advantage of your marketing automation platform’s capabilities? Or just need some assistance with day-to-day campaign operations? Our industry-certified campaign experts can serve as a flexible extension of your team to help you with as much or as little as you need.
As Digital Marketing Specialist, Justin Chormicle supports many of the marketing channels and demand generation strategies that DemandGen leverages. He is passionate about enabling fellow marketers with the support and knowledge they need to get started on their digital marketing journey.